Friday, February 06, 2009

Bad design and why it annoys me.

(For those wondering, I am in the midst of a rather run-of-the-mill emotional crisis and am dug in under my futon, knitting super-bulky yarn and breaking knitting needles. Regular blogging to resume, well, now, I guess.)

I was raised by an eminently practical woman. Feet on the ground, rock-solid common sense. I'm adopted, so I can't say the attitude was hard-wired into my DNA, but whether by natural inclination or thirty-odd years of exposure, I came to share the attitude.

You never pay full price for anything if you can avoid it. (One of the many reasons knitting appeals to me. You CAN save money with it, if you try.)

You don't buy something expensive unless there's a good reason for it. (A $200 leather jacket, maybe. A $200 cotton jacket, why?)

Anything purchased should have a USE. (Furniture, books, hobby items, clothing, kitchen gadgets, doesn't matter.)

Notice that last one? Yeah. I think that one right there is what makes me foam at the mouth when reviewing Vogue Knitting. See, by my view, clothing serves two purposes: It keeps you warm/covered, and it makes you look good. There are lots of ways to accomplish those two goals, some more elaborate than others, but I think we'll all agree that's the real point of clothing.

That's why this:

Offends me more than this:

The yellow one is fucking useless. It doesn't keep you warm (look at those open sleeves flying around; wearing it would be like standing in a wind tunnel), and it sure as hell isn't flattering. Serves no purpose. None.

The purple? Well, it's ugly, but it's warm. If the knitter chose a good color for them, it may be slightly flattering for that reason. So while the design is still pretty crappy (bet it doesn't drape for squat), well, at least there's a purpose there.

Art for art's sake never tripped my trigger. Don't get me wrong, paintings and sculpture are all very well, and certainly take talent to create, and GOOD paintings or sculpture speak to the viewer. But what do they DO? Originally they were there as a form of conspicuous consumption; not terribly valid in my eyes. (Okay. Originally it was the stone age, and we don't really know why. But in the middle ages when painting 'took off' in the western world, it was a way to show you could afford the paint.) Yes, I've got prints hanging on my walls. They cheer up the house, so I guess that's a purpose. But $140 MILLION for a painting that doesn't say much of anything? WHY? I think we're back to showing off. (Incidentally, I don't dislike Pollock, or modern art particularly. His stuff just doesn't speak to me. And I sincerely wonder what it says to others.)

So, where was I going with this. Oh, right. I've got this (belligerent, I admit it), entrenched viewpoint that form follows function, and therefore CLOTHING SHOULD BE USEFUL. Keep you warm, keep you from getting sunburned, keep you from getting arrested, at the least, make you look good. SOMETHING. So I see things like this:

And I get a little insane because I can't see a reason for them existing (they don't suit any of those purposes I listed), let alone PAYING someone to create them. There are so many good-yet-little-known designers out there, producing things that ARE warm and flattering, I sincerely don't understand why the fashion world produces this stuff. They go on and on about design and originality in the Real Fashion World, yet isn't the founding principle of design "form follows function"? What's functional about some of this stuff?

Yeah, I've been at the art history books again. Someone should take them away. That's my deep thought for the day. Such as it is. I'm gonna go crawl under the futon and suck my thumb now.


Barbara said...

I think I'll join you under the futon. It must be the weather changes. It's sunny and warming up but I am in a mood. Durwood has escaped for the day just because I am a cranky bitch. Poor man. Chocolate, anyone?

Emily said...

I'm with you. Art/knitting should serve a purpose & (hopefully) look nice at the same time. The thought of spending all that time making something useless...well, the thing would be unwearable! What's the point of THAT!? Pure misery.

Art on the walls should cheer you up in some way. I prefer handsomely framed fingerpaints by my grandbabies to all else. Colorful, sweet, make me smile. (Actually, I haven't yet framed them...but I plan to.)Or, if you're Wealthy, I guess art on the walls subsidizes the artist: that's OK, I guess. Maybe it's a kind of historical record. But the total uselessness/ugliness of some of these Vogue designs implies, to me, that they'll only be worn by people Wealthy enough to thumb their noses at taste.

Why not just accept VK as a sort of humor magazine?

GrillTech said...

I think some of the fashion items are just a couple of drunk designers seeing who can get the ugliest thing out into the world and trick people into buying it.

Mandy said...

Or, the use could be to entertain the rest of us - sometimes I look at that stuff and I just can't stop laughing, so it did its job and cheered me up. I still go back to giggle at some of the pics at "You Knit What?" when I need a pick-me-up.

Amy Lane said...

Sorry bout the Feb sads... but I do feel you on this. It SHOULD serve some purpose--and resonating with your moods IS a purpose (hence pleasure reading)- "Stretching your perception of function" is just... well, pretensious (how do you SPELL that, anyway!)

Alwen said...

You must go look at these legwarmers:

Or maybe you shouldn't!

Alwen said...

What's that William Morris quote,

"...have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." ?

Of course, beautiful, that's subject to intense debate!

Roxie said...

I'm thinking about other follies of fashion: collars so large that the wearer needed long-handled forks and spoons to eat; shoes with toes so long that they had to be lifted off the ground by a leash around the wearer's knee; skirts so wide that the wearer had to edge sideways through doors and a complicated ranking of ettiquete had to be developed to determine who had precedence over whom in narrow hallways at court; wet muslin in Empire France; mohair dresses in Southern CA. Lord, what fools we mortals be.

NeedleTart said...

Hmmmm....most of the "art" on my walls is something I created with my needle. Some needlepoint, some cross stitch, lots of quilting.In fact, looking around from where I am sitting I can see one "bought" piece of decoration. I never did *get* the later 20th century, clothes, art, or music. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off the see Lucia de Lammamor (speling is optional).

zees5 said...

Hi, your little one is adorable. I have three of those too. I agree with your comments about VK. I often end up buying it for one pattern ): I think their magazine has improved a lot compared to the 80's and 90's but still has a way to go. Figure enhancing knits are what is in yet VK still hasn't figured that out.

Nannette Lapore (sp?)has gorgeous designs, however she seemed to have put the creative side of her brain on hold when she designed for VK. That's too bad because if she had done her job for us then we all could have knit up a nice little $400+ number ourselves ): I guess we have to depend on Annie Modessit or Joan McGowan or...?

Your comments are very funny but the swearing is a little distracting for me and I think you are funnier without it.

Thank you for taking the trouble to review and rant over VK. So many of us appreciate it.

I wholeheartedly agree with your practicality comments too.