Eavesdropping Media

Month: November, 2011

“Modern” Minimalist design – be gone

Please don’t hate me, ye “modern” interior designers. But I ask, why do you continue to promote these perfectly clean, minimal spaces, free of everything that is human or that suggests a familiar space? Has this not been rehashed in every which way already?

It very simply doesn’t do it for me.

Don’t get me wrong I appreciate simple-living. And I believe that the minimal pieces made in the 60s and 70s are truly inspired, but their contemporary counterparts are deeply inferior.  These “modern” minimalistic pieces don’t last, they get dirty easily, and due to their often inferior material make-up inevitably become highly unaesthetic within a couple years (think every sagging IKEA bookshelf). So though the style is supposed to promote a minimalist or simple life style, free of clutter, it is actually a push towards higher consumption. These pieces can often only used on the short-term, thus resulting in more world clutter.

Unfortunately this style is consistently popular year to year. And these modular furniture stores keep popping up all over the place (ex. this Berlin manufacturer). Due to its simplicity, minimal design is a great way for manufacturers to save money. Plain white boards are so easy to press into a mold, and to replicate. The durability and longevity of the materials do not factor in to the companies’ cost calculations. And unfortunately these qualities don’t seem to factor in to those of the buyers either

But I say Minimalism – Be Gone! or at least be modified. I am tired of white surfaces. These spaces make me feel like I am in a clinic. This is not the sensation I want for a living room, nor an office.

Luckily, a few sources suggest tastes are sort of moving away from this. Think of the landhaus (country style) revival from a few years ago, or the current return to textures and natural surfaces. I have on occasion picked up a copy of the Barcelona magazine Apartemento – which, though a tad on the pretentious side, does very nicely capture real inside spaces, homes and offices in use. I got quite a bit of inspiration from their 4th issue when putting together my house.

I realize this rant against minimalism and (not so subtly) IKEA thinking in furniture is looking kinda righteous. But I will explain in a later post a bit more about where this comes from. Obviously furniture won’t change the world. But it is a little piece of the pattern of consumption that I think could use some deconstructing.


A unique subject, a beautiful book

I have been raving about this for a least a year, but I figured I would write it down here for good measure. I read this last winter, and I have this amazing memory of a cold winters evening, leaning on my couch, listening to the B side of the second record of Joanna Newsom’s superb “Have one on me” and reading this book about Cleopatra.

Now yes, perhaps she is in herself an almost iconic cliche due to her fame, references and re-inventions. But put that aside and take a look at this book.

For those who don’t know me well, I am a history buff, and am specifically interested in classic history. And a big fan of the series Rome to boot! I really appreciated their portrayal of the last egyptian pharaoh even if the series has some serious historic inaccuracies.

This book definitely clears a lot of that up, and Susan Shiffs description of Alexandria in the first century BC is great. But obviously the main focus of the book, as its title suggests, is the mighty lady herself. Brilliant and cunning, she seems to have had excessive dignity and poise, but more so in life than in death. Her iconic image as passed down the centuries often takes the form of (in the worst case) whore queen, or (in the best) roman concubine. It reveals the age old, and still virulent, fear of women in power. As a result, we have the myth of cleopatra as malicious promiscuous destroyer of men and empires.

The book provides us with a little look behind the curtain of that myth.

Take a read, let me know!

Play by play politics

I have to admit I have never been seriously interested in Canadian politics – it may be the politeness, or the fact that canadian political stories are often eclipsed in energy and drama by those coming from south of the border (at least in my news sources)

As a result my knowledge of the American system and issues seems to far surpass that of my own country’s. But with the oil sands project pushing the countries environmental agenda into the abyss, and this crazy new crime bill modeled after texas’s, I have definitely realized that this in not something to ignore. So I am happy to have found the open parliament web site, documenting play by play speeches and all votes. This is awesome!

There is an American equivalent. Both are being run non-profit, and non-partisan.

I have looked around for a German version, but have not yet found a true equivalent.

What about your country?

will we “solve” the environment issue?

Read this article “Climate change: there is no plan B” in the Guardian a couple of days ago, and it is still with me.

I have the feeling I need to do something, but I feel, as do many concerned citizens of the world, completely paralyzed. As one famous folk singer once sang “we just sit on our hands and quietly contemplate” *

And unfortunately it doesn’t feel like we have time to waste.

It comes down to this: do we trust in the nature of Humankind to come through at the last minute? Or do we trust in the nature of Humankind to ignore the problem until it negatively effects each of us personally?

the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Either way shit is gonna change, and the lifestyles we have known will be forever altered.

We have 2 choices, we either get on it ourselves, or the change will simply wash over us. or wash us away


*the linked version of this song is not the best, the album version sounds much better, but this one has the words for any non-native readers