FORM, CONTENT OR STYLE

In a recent article on “Gli Stati Generali”, an Italian project that combines professional and participatory journalism, the critic and design expert Chiara Alessi talks about form and content. Although the title is promising, “Honey, we have lost the form (and it is a problem of content)”, Chiara explains the problem in a short text, so short that she is not able to express any concept if not a superficial and confusing analysis.

Chiara wants to baptize the past decade, characterized by multidisciplinarity and contamination. Those projects lack a definite or characterizing form, therefore Chiara decides to use the word Amorphism. The definition is correct if described as: “the condition of the amorphous, as not chosen, does not lead to the non-form – but to an uncontrolled, suffered form, neglected to such an extent that we do not even have a name to define it.“ BUT Chiara goes on: “ I am interested in reminding you that the form (even the most perverse and disturbing in some cases), the stronger it is, the more it wins, if the political results were not enough (MH? She refers to the elections for the European Parliament and the rise of Lega and Movimento 5 Stelle in Italy, I suppose), it would be enough to look at your Instagram profiles to confirm it: we need a style (??), in which we can recognize ourselves or from which we can distance ourselves or even in which we do not recognize ourselves at all.”

Instagram? So do we need a new style or a new form? Is recognizing ourselves in a style enough to define a new type of form and design? Is it not a matter of content? That term only mentioned in the title?

Let’s have look at this project. There is no need to mention the company to understand who we are talking about. Quoting the brand: “For the first time (??), a series of storage furniture in which the vintage aesthetic of the Scandinavian sideboard is corrupted by crazy and over-the-top graphics of the magazine, it is the ideal product for giving a contemporary twist to even the most traditional spaces.”

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Many words for very simple pieces of furniture characterized by prints, a product worthy of a fashion house or an upholsterer. The brand “dressed the furniture”. This is a styling exercise, as the Substantial Chair by Alexander Schul or Ma’or by Alexandre Boucher or the tables of the Ikon Kobenhaven brand.

Well-known objects of the past, revisited, slightly modified to be sold as one’s own. When design becomes a styling exercise, it lacks content. What is the added value given by the company or the designer?

To summarize, in my opinion we are in a dark era of design if we are not able to recognize the projects with content from the research project created for Instagram, or from already-seen furnishing collections sold at a higher price than the others – mainly due to the griffe. The global crisis, the shift from the product-driven economy to the service-driven one, the advent of social media and the violent, almost invasive aesthetic, these are just some of the many factors that have contributed to the lost of valid contents in the design projects – not every project, of course. Going back to Chiara’s article and to the discussion about form, content and style, we do not need a style in which we can recognize or not, we need a greater critical spirit, in order to give content to the projects, in relation to the context in which they are designed, and therefore in a clear and recognizable form. Amorphism or not, we need real projects and maybe multidisciplinarity and contamination can be a way, if mediated by the designers.

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