Sunday, October 12, 2008
Mantel clock in a space
The word “organic” spikes many images in our minds. We think of growth, plants, life, and never ending curves and tangles that aren’t enclosed in rectilinear cages. At the turn of the 20th century, art nouveau sprang up as a counteraction to the years and years of perfectly angled, straight and boxy forms that made up architecture. No one had ever thought of turning towards nature as a guide. But why not? Nature is a holistic and unified thing- everything in it serves a purpose, and everything thrives off everything else. Without water, plants don’t grow. Without plants, we have no oxygen, nothing for animals to eat. Even humans have a place on the earth, and in nature. The chain goes on and on. What art nouveau aimed for was recreating this unification of each individual part- exterior, interior, and artifact alike.
Let’s take for example, a simple mantel clock, designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich around 1899. The clock as a piece on it’s own has unity which is exemplified in it’s solid, curved, and carved out form, all from the same piece of wood. This being said, it only seems appropriate to place the object in a space that has been “carved out of the same piece of wood.” The art nouveau style is almost alive- crawling and growing- a vine grasping on to everything it can. The mantel clock is a piece of the vine that has formed itself into a space, and into objects in the space. The clock is a living part of the vine, and without it, the vine is missing something. The clock is just as important in this space as the plant like molding, the dining chairs, the table, and the mantel itself.
In comparison to the mantel clock in its space, the table saw and the relationship it has with its surroundings is quite the same. The table saw is one piece in the living thing that is a workshop. Place the table saw somewhere else, and it doesn't seem to mesh. The saw is a component is the workshop as a whole.
In contrast, there is the Patriot radio in its space. Though the space for the patriot radio is holistic, it is made up of different types of objects to create that whole. A more metaphorical example could be a garden of many different flowers vs. a vine that has spread and grown. The patriot radio's environment is unified by each different part coming together to create the whole, whereas the mantel clock and its environment are a single unit that has many parts, and is unified in that way