last friday started in new york city the yearly procession of those with little to say and ample stage time to proclaim it. that’s right, the international contemporary furniture fair is back within the grasp of those looking for cheap swill and rotation moulding to spill it over. now, don’t get me wrong, i find nothing dishonorable in setting up a design wares market in every corner of the world where each and every individual with ideas, regardless of color, creed or liquor sponsorship can rightly present them to an over-enthusiastic and willful audience in order to make a living. but that is rarely what happens at these things… take it from someone who has consistently thrown one of the most attended events of the week in the past, believed his own hype but been so repelled by it so violently in the past 2 years that he preferred to stay away. and he, i mean me. our last attempt was, in my opinion, the clearest, and certainly most disgusting, of all in trying to articulate our distaste for all things ephemeral and unneeded presented at the fair. also, for all itinerant sponsor-drinking people who do nothing but interni party hop and notice none of the displayed efforts. every year evolves, in my not-so-humble opinion, in the wrong direction and keeps furthering no other agenda than that of increased consumption, something we are given little reasonable excuse to engage in. other than pure weakness for all that is beautiful, cool as defined by others and status-enhancing that is. so as hard as you may be looking for my expanding gut within the folds of overcrowded “design spaces” in the hopes of punching me in the face, no such opportunity will come your way i’m afraid as i am neither throwing a bash nor attending others’. my apologies in advance for your loss…
inasmuch as you’ve already gotten my acerbic point of view on, ahem, the state of design last year at this opportune time and since said state has not changed an iota, i won’t repeat myself and instead apply my award-winning wit to another aspect of what is happening this and every such week: the coverage.
let me start by appointing myself and theapt.com as a lowly limb in the body i am about to flagellate because i am as much as fault as any design commentator of the day… i want to address the pundits, the fans, the observers, the assigned anchormen and women who crowd the air and microwaves with unconsidered banter, misplaced adoration and borrowed vocabulary. this is my plea to you, and it is a rather simple one:
please do a better job…
whoever you are, blog writer with a million hits a month or magazine columnist with an international readership, please do not feel obliged to report, hashtag, post or over-sensationalize that cactus chair just because it is there. please don’t tumbl, flickr, yfrog or twitpic that accordion lamp just because everybody else tagged it as “favorite” yesterday. please don’t tell me, again tonight, that you can’t wait for the vitra, kartell, moss or designboom party just because your name’s on a list of some sort and you’re totally meeting everybody there. fact is, most of what you’re blurrycaming today will be on top of tomorrow’s pile of the forgotten, unfit for your house, or mine. and you know it. but just because technology has made it so easy to document, and easy for us to feel important doing so since we hence believe ourselves “part of something,” we are unable to edit. which i understand, just follow me on twitter and marvel at my absolute inability to apply my own advice. but i feel stronger about my industry that i do about my lifecasting, and that is because, the less we edit our vision of it, the less it serves the world of taste it is, i suppose, our full intention to better. the more we use vocabulary whose consequences we do not care about, the more harmful the result. when you leave the hallowed yet deformed halls of the jacob javitz center, please don’t tell me you are inspired… by what? whom? how?! educate me! i have marathoned through those aisles for 10 years now and never found anything inspiring! unless we disagree on the definition. unless it inspires not to do. i may be able to understand one’s ability to find interest in a designer’s slightly new way of crafting a supposedly ironic ceramic milk carton but come on, inspiring? i think not.
all i am asking is for said narrators to mind their words and reports. i would like to see critical eyes looking at this and other fairs without any of the obvious cheerleading which dumbs down conversation to insignificant admiration of whatever has made it to the booths. we owe it to ourselves not to applaud the merely there but the extraordinary, whatever that may mean for us. it is all too seemingly clear that many, under the cozy protection of “reportage,” use their power and audience to fill digital and paper columns with shrill assertions as to an object’s worth to simply make an act of presence on whatever medium they have chosen. our opinions are louder when few and far between. our words hit stronger when labored over patiently. our readers are thankful when we deliver on our promises of artful judgment. which cannot be fulfilled when i see 10 tweets about this shit! not that our industry, as every one, couldn’t use the support of its pundits but i fear that we might create a monster, based merely on unremarkable yet loud achievements, control over which will quickly be lost forever. i don’t want to name names here but you know who you are karim rashid. don’t do it for me, do it for the kids who will eventually ask you why their house is so full of crap perhaps only worthy of junk shooting into a spewing underwater oil leak precipitated by greedy corporations and their under-zealous regulators in a naive attempt to stop the very raw material used to manufacture said crap. i, for one, want to stop complaining about how filled with shit my house is, based in large part to my unflinching obedience to you curators of design. you, we, have a responsibility to our audience to do a better job of now considering our field mature enough for some more stringent editing. it’s ok, it will only encourage the unchosen to do better themselves. it’s ok, especially if we are deserving of the hits, the RTs, the interviews. it’s ok not to give whatever this might be, any publicity. these are objects of mass consumption, not golden idols to worship; let’s put them, and ourselves, in their place.
i do not think it too much or arrogant to be asked to do the job we are so lucky to have created out of thin air, precisely. as we do not answer to anyone, so must we to ourselves. i will attempt to live by my own words and i would love to hear from you, my dear colleagues, about how this request shall be answered. have a less-than-designed week!