“We Orientals tend to seek our satisfactions in whatever surroundings we happen to find ourselves, to content ourselves with things as they are; and so darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce, then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. But the progressive Westerner is determined always to better his lot. From candle to oil lamp, oil lamp to gaslight, gaslight to electric light – his quest for a brighter light never ceases, he spares no pains to eradicate even the minutest shadow”.
In 1933, the Japanese poet Tanizaki published “In Praise of Shadows”, in which, among other things, he exalts the qualities of Asian culture that contrast with the specific features of the Western world and, in particular, highlights interaction with time, the past and limits. For example, in his book he describes how in the Far East metals are fully appreciated only when they begin to tarnish, since the idea of polishing them is almost considered a form of heresy, like removing the patina left by time.
The processes of ageing and transformation are thus considered gifts; traces of time that we have been lucky enough to experience and the hands of people with whom an object has had the good fortune of coming into contact. In recent years, here in the Western world much has been said about “programmed obsolescence”; a “trick” whereby objects are made that already include the seed of their destruction, a system that encourages quick exchange and nourishes perpetual replacement.
Old objects must either be thrown away or polished as if they were new. Here, we deal with “designed consumption” that is very different and for which many designers have nourished a fervent passion and a vivid interest, especially in the contemporary world.
How can we design objects that record the passage of time and of people? How can we convey signs of existence that make objects alive and therefore susceptible to time (and weather), which are normally anonymous in their life cycle? How can we design them for ” serene growth”?
The culture of the transformation of objects over time is also of current interest to companies such as Kristalia, which, having overcome traditional scepticism about certain materials that are particularly sensitive to change (e.g. hide and cement) and giving them value-added quality, firmly believes in the value of industrial products that can become unique objects thanks to wear, the seasons and the hands of those who made and used them.
With such objects, everyone’s time can become a unique experience. Kristalia encourages the inevitable ageing process and enhances it, designing it and envisaging a second life for its products in the hands of those who will use them.
Thus, for Kristalia, a table such as “Boiacca” by Lucidi e Pevere and a chair such as “1085 Edition” by Bartoli Design can become silent ambassadors of not only those who made them but also of the special blend of the best artisan production and industrial precision, one bearing the identification number of the person who created the design project, and the other stamped by hand.
Therefore, they are traces of the past and of the future, since those who use them are part of this experience and add layers of life: over time, the cement of the table will show signs of the presence of those who used it and leather will move and change colour. And this furniture will be just like clothes, objects that are closest to the body of those who use them.