Making arguments stronger

The only element that I just can’t seem to master is time in sync with my energy levels. I will not even tell you how messed up my schedule is this semester. Anyway, I found this amazing book. It’s called Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski and it’s been published ages ago.. a year before I was born. I’ve only gotten to read (more like devoured) it the past week. It discusses the Onion Theory of (Domestic) Comfort in ten chapters. If it wasn’t recommended by my thesis adviser, I would never have thought of reading this! My only question is: Why isn’t there any update on the topic?

Home A short History of an Idea

He wrote about numerous things and I would just like to present you with three things that struck me:

Architects having a hand on the entire design from exteriors to interiors started happening during the modernist era (in a more holistic way, not just stylistically).

I’ve always thought this was the norm. The continuous development of the profession had its roots in aesthetics and of course, we weren’t alone in this. Necessity is the cause of innovation. The advancement of technologies incorporated in the home was really slow! Unlike how we presently look at the built environment, being a marriage of structural, utilities, and aesthetics wasn’t the case before. It was centered in fashion, style and decoration.

The beginnings of Art Deco was rooted in dance. 

Can I just say that I will always have a special fascination with this era, no matter how badly it was looked at historically. This French style was triggered by the arrival of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1909 in Paris. Just search for Leon Bakst’s sketches of the stage design and costume and you’ll understand why there were peacocks, harem pants, exotic patterns and all these motifs. It’s very inspiring in its detail. No wonder the Parisian public was taken with this look – it’s so mesmerising!

There’s a rift between standardization and leaving room for customization resulting to efficiency.

Just look at the success of IKEA and Generative design (not in this book). See, Le Corbusier had this idea that there’s only one solution and that people needed to adapt to it. I have a problem with this especially with how designers think that what we do is a panacea (a cure-all). I love how the author placed domestic engineers’ process of translating efficiency of a home versus how Le Corbusier sought to make the home “as serviceable as a typewriter”. Why do we place so much importance on “one of the greatest unused buildings ever” aka Villa Savoye as the marker of what good architecture is? Good for whom? Are we designing for our fellow architects or are we designing habitable environments for people?

The more I read, the stronger my ideas connect with one another. It would have been awesome if there was a comparative study with the History of design by Raizman accompanied with the text of Rybczynski (and the illustrations of D.K. Ching)! The democratization of design in today’s world has gone to so many directions. It would have been a challenge to any author trying to aggregate all the information into one cohesive text!

I should start doing my lectures and edit my thesis. I just had to share this!

P.S. It’d be awesome to have this in my personal library. Tell me if you found a copy!

Doing what you love does not make things any easier. You keep at it longer, strive harder because you know why you’re doing it.


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