Disclaimer: I don't think that anymore can posit at the moment that truth and 'the real' as modernism or rationalism [the Italians] would define it, can exist in architecture anymore and hasn't for the past century. It's impossible to be perfectly 'honest' with contemporary methods of design and production. I think Paul Rudolph kind of killed that, and perhaps that's not a bad thing at all.

That said, I think contemporary architecture fluctuates between what I'll call new-futurism [Zaha, Ali Rahim, Evan Douglis], semantic symbology [FAT, well really just FAT, at least in terms of studios that everyone would know], and verisimilitude [Sam Mockbee, Zumthor, at times H&dM].

To shift gears: Both art [as qualified as visual art, music and literature] and design [as qualified as industrial design, and fashion] has been moving away from the new-futurism [techno music/ipads] and by passing semantic symbology [nostalgic Nintendo/Artari aesthetic, neon, etc.] and moving towards a sort of verisimilitude [folk music's resurgence {The National, David Thomas Broughton, Sophie Hunger}]. Industrial design has been moving towards firms [design and production] like Uhuru.

I think at this point, I should define what I mean by 'verisimilitude'. I mean a simulation of the real, a nostalgia for truth. Rawhide boots, folk music, plaid wool shirts,designer axes, bicycling's change from fixed gear to cyclocross, food miles, 16$ cask ale pints unpasteurized, etc.

I think verisimilitude is translating into architecture. Recently we were given an edict by the boss[I'm paraphrasing]: 'No more sexy slick technological spaces. No more glass balustrades. No more touchscreens, no more sterile stainless steel and glass vestibules. Anyone can do sexy and slick, I want to see crafted and real.''

My question to archinect is this: Is this a viable way forward or merely a fad? If the 00's were a decade about technological consumption, will the 10's be a decade of crafted reality? And how does that effect things long term, if at all? Is it possible to combine the lessons from Samuel Mockbee and Zaha Hadid and arrive at a place that is truly sustainable, ethical, and beautiful?

Nov 14, 10 1:06 pm

i still stick to adorno. nice series of manifesto like questions requiring really complicated un-manifesto responses. i will think about a response.
However, seems like market consumption issue is too de-facto in the posit.

Nov 14, 10 1:36 pm  · 

I've been recently dealing with a GC who is contracted for preconstruction services who adds numbers to anything 'he' cannot get at home depot. Whilst it can be frustrating, perhaps it can be expanded to the Mark Wigley idea of 'green grass, white drywall, grey concrete and black asphalt' being the real venue for architectural intervention.

Nov 14, 10 1:52 pm  · 

Right now I am writing this post from a Gregory Ain designed house. +,- 1100 sq. ft. I have been here about a week and so far I have not seen a material you cannot purchase from Home Depot or anything that is fabricated with tools that you cannot purchase there as well. Built 1939.

Nov 14, 10 2:03 pm  · 

That seems like a step in the 'truth' direction... I'm not advocating verisimilitude at all, I think it has value and transience. It's a fad, at the moment.

Are you using cedar or osb? And.... Does it matter to you?

Nov 14, 10 2:20 pm  · 

Interesting thoughts (I did not know this word: Verisimilitude, but I had been thinking similar thoughts. Now I have some reading to do), but I think what HdeM and Zumthor do at times is very different from what Mockbee does in terms of how you are deciding "Verisimilitude", and especially from the other stuff you mentioned. There is no nostalgia for the past in the work of HdeM and Zumthor. Zumthor sometimes takes elements of the past and reconstructs them in his own way. HdeM rarely reference the far past to my memory, while really digging into and building upon art and architectural styles from their youth (minimalism etc.). I cant really place Mockbee in this trend because I'm not intimately familiar with his work, but I definately understand the selection. I would also consider Ai Wei Wei's thoughts and work in this realm. He believes in a sort of "essentialism" to architecture: kind of a beautiful pragmatism (an interesting idea marred by a ridiculous amount of answered questions attached)

I guess I think its a little strange to compare them to the pop cultural driven trend towards nostalgia in consumer goods today. That stuff is marketed to hipsters. Everything you described is purchased by hipsters and yuppie dads/moms. A lot of people have rightly criticized this movement on similar terms to how LEED gets criticized today, as in: a false solution to the problem of overprocessing today. I mean, plaid shirts made in Thailand sold at urban outfitters? 'designer' axes? Organic Bananas? Please.

tldr: Of the top of my head I would classify the products / fashion trends as 'Nostalgic Eclecticism', while Zumthor and HdeM practice 'Swiss Expressionism'. I hate classifying these things, but you asked, and I don't think they are the same.

My suggestion is to make sure that your firm goes towards really awesome Austrian and Swiss contemporary work and away from painfully commercialized false nostalgia.

Nov 14, 10 2:35 pm  · 

Well, truth or not, the space is very sustainable and it functions well. There is no nostalgia about it. It just lives good. It looked different than the neighbors' tract houses then, and it looks better than today's all-glass-vestibuled-contemporary-the-top-of-gluttonous-hill-across, now.
Everything matters and should. I am using what is safe, sustainable, affordable and supports local labor.

Nov 14, 10 2:39 pm  · 

What would it mean to take the most banal, mediocre or dumb things about architecture and make them the most important, avant garde, and interesting? What we took a neo-georgian house and neo-walmartized it? Can one predict and produce something interesting from the banal? What if dark grey asphalt was more interesting than silver stainless steel?

Nov 14, 10 3:18 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

I think one thing here to specify about hipsterism is that initially the hipster and indie movements were born from an anti-consumerist mantra. Albiet, that's a bit misleading since hipsters are

Partially, one facet of hipsterdom is the rejection of pop culture marketing. Older generations tend to forget that anyone born after 1975-1978 has been essentially bred and raised with decepetive, emotionally violent and immersive advertising. In a sense, the children and young adults of today lack a traditional, passed on culture. They are an amalgamation of carefully crafted commercials and ephemeral ideologies.

Hipster irony is professing a love of dubious creations whether it be Hello Kitty, Ninja turtles or Pokemon. In fact, these media creations were and are pretty honest in the fact they are product and marketing vehicles.

However... When it comes to the theft or appropriation of cultural elements, either contemporary or historical, these are carefully chosen because of their limited availability or complexity. Therefore, using such appropriations garuntees that there is a limited window of purity in the object to be enjoyed before said object becomes popularized.

Typically, hipsterism prefers to stayed detached from the marketed reality of the world. Unless of course it us using reality to mock reality. Many people tend to wring their fists at hipsters but hipsters do not become hipsters.

They are cultural zombies. And zombism is a transmitted condition.

Nov 14, 10 4:04 pm  · 

I don't think that 'girls' [women are smarter than men] nor versimilitude consciouosly holds much weight.

Let's move this faster, or risk becoming obsolete.

Nov 14, 10 4:21 pm  · 


Nov 14, 10 6:14 pm  · 

The disclaimer portion of the original post made my head hurt. Luckily rest of it made a lot more sense even if wiki definition of verisimilitude describes something slightly different...

That said, I'm not sure if observations of recent trends in culture, food, technology, music, etc... can be applied to realm of architecture.

If anything, it was architecture that boldly lead other disciplines. Modernists of the 20's and 30's were light years ahead of everyone else. It is architecture that set the stage for everything from modern cinema, post-punk to world-fusion culinary arts.

I don't see architecture leading the way in much of anything these days. Green arch perhaps? Other fields are ahead in environmental game.

15 years ago I would have bet my money on modular architecture as the next big thing. I was clearly very, very wrong. The fact that 'crafted reality' is something to strive for makes me sad in a way.

As Given points out, other industries have figured out that nostalgia sells. Combine that with a political movement that wants to repeal 20th century altogether, and you have a perfect storm. Who are we to decline an opportunity for free lunch?

Architecture as an entity is not moving into any particular direction. If anything, it's expanding into all possible directions at the same time. A better question would be "What is architecture as a profession NOT doing that it should be doing?" And that would require a loaded answer.

Nov 14, 10 6:44 pm  · 

I like this house:

It's by Phillippe Starck, and it's somewhat banal, but just zingy enough. It maybe falls into the same category of work that FAT is doing, I suppose, except it seems to walk this razor-thin line between earnestness and irony. It's charming.

I agree with rusty that architecture won't be leading society in any meaningful way. We're jumping onto the Green train where we can, but not, IMO, combining green design with any social activism that would make it meaningful for anyone beyond the building developer.

I also agree with this statement by rusty: if anything it (architecture) is expanding into all possible directions at the same time. This is, in my mind, to the benefit of the world but not the profession, but I think it's a good dissipation.

Directly to your boss' comment about "real": I do see in many of my clients and friends a desire for local influence: local beers, food, handmade goods, etc. I think it's an acceptance of globlization that also has people asking what is interesting about THIS place that I want to save/enjoy? This is partly why I think UKentucky's College of Design is doing such interesting work - they are focusing on some existing industries and issues in the state and trying to solve the problems and celebrate the uniqueness of those abilities. Ball State is doing this too, on a lesser level - but across Midwestern academia, at least, I'm seeing people interested in finding out what the Midwest has as local industry/talent/resources and exploring it. So maybe "real" can refer to "local"?

Nov 14, 10 11:59 pm  · 

Lord forgive them for they know not what they do

Nov 15, 10 1:04 am  · 
Distant Unicorn

Rereading this-- I think an interesting comparison would be to simulacra and skeuomorphs.

With simulacra (intentional simulations), you have an interesting debate here. With painting in the least, technology has actually been instrumental in creating more perfect simulations. Whether it's using a camera obscura, a projector or even tracing or painting over actual photographs or photographic transfers.

In a sense, simulacra are hyperreal. That is, they take reality and add to that reality through a variety of technological or cultural means.

And with skeuomorphs, like simulacra, tend to depend on a technological factor in recreating a reality. Skeuomorphs are things like dial tones, blue jean rivets, hubcaps, non-functional handles or levels, screw on shutters... et cetera.

In the social sciences-- planning and economics-- this is referred to as 'path dependence.' The concept is that "everything was done for a reason," aka "history matters."

And that's a challenging topic right there. Partly, modernism often failed to gain widespread popularity because of the totalitarian rejection of the past.

Over the years though... modernism seems to have become reality hybridized in many aspects of culture. That perhaps explains the newfound fondness for blending highly-industrial practices with kitschy, folksy ideas-- skyscrapers with hand-scraped wood floors, Amish craftsmen making ultra-modernist furniture and that sort of thing.

Perhaps the ideology behind firms like Uhuru and FAT (and even Philippe Starck) is that we can have new things while also having history matter.

Nov 15, 10 3:37 am  · 
Distant Unicorn

One last thing to add and perhaps it will be hard to answer--

How come computer manufacturers never used wood for casing? (I mean there's the obvious objections of fire hazard and fragility-- but most plastic is neither fireproof nor sturdy.)

Nov 15, 10 3:40 am  · 
Schrödinger's cat

Plastic is cheaper than wood in large-scale production and assembly. While the initial cost of making the forms for injection molding is high, it ends up being cheaper for production just after a few hundred units. If you're only doing a handful of units, then wood would probably be cheaper.

I think that once CNC routers, laser cutters, and 3D printers become more widespread it'll get far easier for small shops and individuals to do small-scale production using more "locally sourced" materials. I also think the the current proliferation of these tools have contributed to this shift from overly smooth rhino'd space stations to algorithmically generated and robot milled textured and tectonic fantasies because we can actually build stuff ourselves now - at least in academia.

The fact that we can now relatively easily recreate piranesi using computer-aided tools is pretty amazing.

I don't know if this shift in how we can use technology is the reason for or simply parallel to the current trend toward a hand-crafted aesthetic - but I think it makes it a little easier because the tools are more accessible.

Nov 15, 10 11:18 am  · 

Upon further reflection: I'm attempting to use the term 'versimilitude' much in the same way one might use it when discussing visual art or film or music or literature. To my mind, versimilitude is the quality of trying to achieve as near as possible 'truth' or 'honesty' whilst fully recognizing and even celebrating that the given medium cannot and will never achieve absolute honesty, reality or truth.

So to use a case study in architectural terms:

Take a piece of interior millwork, rather than using wood veneer to hide the joinery, you'd use solid wood and steel and expose the joinery in a very clear manner. Thus, you're celebrating how the thing is made in a very straightforward manner, whilst recognizing and accepting that the thing is 100% artificial. The work of Jean Prouve or George Nakashima comes to mind.

I don't think it's a quality that is limited by technology or materials and I don't think it has anything to do with nostalgia. I think that both Zaha and H&dM are both technological firms deeply concerned with future systems, but the approach is wildly different. Zaha almost tries consciously to hide how things are made/fabricated, if she could have her way the entire building would be 3d SLS printed. H&dM on the other hand consciously celebrate materiality and fabrication. I guess you could say that Zaha has a 'nostaliga for the future'. While H&dM are concerned with contemporary and contextual material flows and processes.

Nov 15, 10 12:56 pm  · 

DS - ''...razor-thin line between earnestness and irony'' Great line, and I think it describes Starck's work very well.

I would say 'glocal' rather than local [even though I hate that word, it just sounds so pretentious and unclever]. I think the tendency to ascribe value to something simply because it came from within a 200 mile radius is a bit dicey when talking about architecture. I think it's very easy to move from issues of typology to kitsch. I do agree with the food movement though, but food has a minuscule lifespan compared to a building, so moving an orange from Orange County CA to Orange County NY is preposterous, it's less preposterous to move a bit of steel the same distance.

Nov 15, 10 1:05 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

"Plastic is cheaper than wood in large-scale production and assembly. While the initial cost of making the forms for injection molding is high, it ends up being cheaper for production just after a few hundred units. If you're only doing a handful of units, then wood would probably be cheaper."

Cost difference of this magnitude only matters if you are manufacturing dollar store can openers.

When you are selling computers that cost $1000-$3500 (for high-end personal computers), a $60-dollar-at-retail (and this is a pretty generous figure) wood box is almost a non-point in costs.

A better comparison would be to modern electronics versus antique electronics-- bakelite plastic products of many decades ago are entirely more well-designed than many of our current plastic products.

How is it that people completely unfamiliar with plastic at the time could not only product plastic products with superior unibody construction and superior "wood grain simulation"?

Nov 15, 10 1:37 pm  · 

I love [real] wood. I smell another post.

Nov 15, 10 2:11 pm  · 
olaf design ninja

someone said Architecture led the way? Architecture was the last to pick-up on the industrial revolution, that was modernism, industrialized architecture.

if you subscribe to Toffler's waves: 1 - Agricultural, 2 - Industrial, 3 - Information

Industrialized modernized architecture typically starts in history with referencing an electrical fabrick in Berlin...can't remember...then i'd argue industrialized architecture peaked during the international style and we were entering the information age elsewhere...

the future is agricultural-information where machines are the industrial workers.

your Versimlitude, or at least the way you describe it, in short is the future. we will be virtually global and physically local. our minds will be connected with everyone and our senses with the materials around use.

thus - a craft dedicated to atmosphere and materials will emerge and craft will be less expensive, even the middle class will enjoy what usually only the very wealthy do.

Nov 15, 10 9:28 pm  · 

ninjaman: Are you referring to Peter Behrens' work with AEG? He sure inspired lots of influential peeps.

But to say that industrial revolution predates modernist architecture is besides the point. 18th and 19th centuries were chock full of architectural innovations that ran concurrently with industrial discoveries. You may find the aesthetics of 19th century architecture to be vile in modern terms, but technically speaking the century provided as many technical breakthroughs as 20th century did.

"the future is agricultural-information where machines are the industrial workers."

I can't help but feel afraid when you put it in those terms. Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano comes to mind.

"even the middle class will enjoy what usually only the very wealthy do."

I think you just Karl Marx'ed all over yourself :) But seriously, what middle class? Turns out middle class is a transitional concept that has a tendency of going extinct if not aggressively protected. Observe the decreasing power of middle class that has only existed for 50 or so years. Observe centuries of human civilizations with no such thing as middle class.

Nov 15, 10 10:14 pm  · 
olaf design ninja

Continual transition I think would describe the information-agrictulural (infoag) age the best, middle class will remain the transition class and will grow in numbers, remaining rich will be harder and harder with hiring masses of middle class workers and being poor will become a willful decision, an intended avoidance to continual avoidance.

Architecture will be mainly ephermal with the occasional stone to remind us of the past.

Craft and thinking will melt together.

Nov 16, 10 1:51 pm  · 

Aren't we, at least in the US, seeing a growing distance between rich and poor? Not dissipating or coalescing or coagulating?

As to the future, to bring the 'virtually global and physically local' to physical terms, what if there were housing blocks in the interstitial space created by highway interchanges in a symbiotic relationship with a carbon sequestering species such as white oaks? Are we then suggesting that technological innovation such as parametrics [dirty word on Archinect, I know] combined with an astute, apt, and wise engagement with physical material processes equals the future of not only capital A architecture but also subsistence, survival and livlihood for all?

Nov 16, 10 3:12 pm  · 
olaf design ninja

Continual transition I think would describe the information-agrictulural (infoag) age the best, middle class will remain the transition class and will grow in numbers, remaining rich will be harder and harder with hiring masses of middle class workers and being poor will become a willful decision, an intended avoidance to continual avoidance.

Architecture will be mainly ephermal with the occasional stone to remind us of the past.

Craft and thinking will melt together.

Nov 16, 10 5:59 pm  · 
olaf design ninja

Jp funny you say that...that was a competition idea once, ha...what you describe will not be done by what currently is called and trained an architect, it will be AEC firms like URS and AECOM etc...not you Libeskinds and Gehry...the one off project will be done by the Fosters etc...

Nov 16, 10 6:03 pm  · 

ninjaman: the version of the world you describe (infoarg???) sounds unrealistic at best. "Remaining rich will become harder" only makes sense if by rich you mean middle-class. Super rich are still getting super-richer. The fact that you concede that future of architecture belongs to AECOM confirms that.

Do not want.

Nov 16, 10 6:11 pm  · 
olaf design ninja

Rusty infoag already exists man alll over US.
I concede because our leaders are dumbasses and US academic education willnever put architects back in our position of building environment control
Its harder and harder to be rich and known to exist
Coroporations don't count as rich...

Nov 16, 10 6:24 pm  · 

jplourde: please define "contemporary and contextual material flows and processes"?

Nov 16, 10 7:28 pm  · 

ninjaman: "Rusty infoarg already exists man all over US."

Yes, but in limited quantities. Most of the country can still be defined as suburban Walmart wasteland. Nothing agr (or info) about that.

"our leaders are dumbasses and US academic education will never put architects back in our position of building environment control"

We had this control at some point? Blaming the gubbmint or schools is downright silly.

"Its harder and harder to be rich"

Maybe for architects. All statistics point to you being wrong.

Nov 16, 10 8:04 pm  · 
olaf design ninja

context rust, context...i estimated the next wave to be infoag, if it exists in limited quantities all over the US (you're agreeing here) then in the future there is a chance this will be everywhere.

to a certain degree all industry happens in Asia/China...we work in service and information jobs that pay for products to harvest and make us food.

can you send link, can't read it...

statistics...i could make a graph say the opposite with same data, come on man.

and you misqouted me, finish the "its harder and harder to be rich and known to exist" - this means if you're loaded you need to keep it quite.

yes blame the schools with them ignoring skills and practice and mainly the market. i didn't mean government i met the heads of the profession.

Nov 16, 10 9:41 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

I don't think the next wave will be infoag.

I mean, seriously... do you know how hard it is to be a productive member of agriculture?

If farming was such a wildly successful venture (hint... it isn't), why would so many farmers resort to puppy mills, fur farms, genetically-modified organisms, aerial gassing, high levels of antibiotic use, indiscriminate herbicide use and all sorts of varieties of animal abuse from beak clipping to force feeding?

And it doesn't necessarily matter if the farm is big or small-- these acts of desperation are done simple to turn a profit.

There's a USDA document released annually that details the average profit-per-acre-- some states have negative dollar amounts while other states may reach as high as $300 per acre.

Just assuming a $300 per acre figure, you'd need about 170 acres of land to give a small family $50,000 of spending money.

Assuming all land in the lower 48 states is farmable, there's a maximum theoretical limit of 2.1 million families able to make $50,000 of 166 acres of land. That's roughly 7-10 million people in total.


Nov 17, 10 2:05 am  · 

Unicorn, we'll just start growing weed everywhere. The hawk ate all my chickens, but it don't care for my pot plants. That's $200/ounce. Try to crunch them numbers!

ninjaman: I like you enthusiasm about things getting better. In real life they appear to be getting better in some areas and a lot worse in others. I'm afraid it will take an entire generation to go away before we start seing positives across the board. A shame, really.

Nov 17, 10 2:18 am  · 
Distant Unicorn

Well, wholesale... good weed is about $1600-2000 a pound.

The weed market, like the market in general, is a good indicator of risk vs. middle man vs. markup. Weed may change hands 2-to-5 times before it goes from farm-to-bong. Every single hand between there takes out a little cut. However, the bigger the amount you have the greater the risk.

Perhaps this is why most stoners will gladly pay for a heavily marked up product with no provenance-- why take the risk of large fines, jail time or even worse... community service to save $5 bucks a gram.

But I have no problem with outrageous specialty cash crops whether they are greenhouse strawberries, weed, vanilla beans, saffron threads, chili peppers or even free range hawk food.


Back on topic:

@ JP I'm attempting to use the term 'versimilitude' much in the same way one might use it when discussing visual art or film or music or literature. To my mind, versimilitude is the quality of trying to achieve as near as possible 'truth' or 'honesty' whilst fully recognizing and even celebrating that the given medium cannot and will never achieve absolute honesty, reality or truth.

I think we'd have to identify what truth actually is.

Take, for instance, a claim of a wood product being handmade.

What exactly defines handmade? Is it hand-cut boards joined together with hand-sewn joints and handmade nails?

Or can handmade be extended to an idea of "craftiness?" Craftiness being a method where "quality-constructed" products are the end result. Is craftiness historical? Meaning... does handmade or craftiness only apply to specific methodologies from previous eras?

One example that I know of is that the biscuit joint is a relatively modern invention only executable with machine aid. However, the biscuit joint does provide a craftiness-like method of joinery.

Are cabinets that are pre-cut and machined with routers and lasers considered a real craft if the technological process used replicates a previous craft method [dove tails, box joints et cetera]?

I think this line of reasoning can be applied to concrete methods as well. A specific instance would be appreciating the quality and durability of Roman concrete... however, Roman concrete products as as adulterated with fillers, fibers and other stuff as modern concrete is.

So, modern concrete is relatively "truthful" to its historical predecessor.

Nov 17, 10 2:54 am  · 


i can't honestly tell [due to the limitations of text] whether your question was sincere or whether you're just taking the piss. but, as i'm trying to use less jargon in my diction, I'll try and respond earnestly.

Contemporary: Of the now. Not looking to future systems for salvation. Likewise, not thinking that the old ways are somehow better simply because they are old. Trusting to what we can accomplish in the next year, given a little ingenuity, to offer great benefits.

Contextual: Where is the product being manufactured and delivered? How and by whom? It's cheaper [cost effective] to build in certain areas of the States with concrete rather than steel, simply because the GC's, SC's have more knowledge of it. It's cheaper to use terrazzo in the US than anywhere else. It's cheaper to do molded steel in Germany. Not that cost should be the driving factor, but it's one we can all relate to.

Flows: I would define flows as material properties that are outside of human control. For example, to garner steel one might want to introduce an alloy of carbon or manganese or chromium, because those elements like to align with each other. Likewise we never detail aluminum and steel directly together in a faade [without some sort of bufferng agent] because those two don't get along when mixed with moisture.

Processes: I would define processes as operations that are enacted upon materials for specific intentions and uses by human beings. For example, why did we ever want steel? Because iron did not have enough tensile strength to support how we wanted to use it. [Too much dislocation in the iron crystal lattice, too brittle.].

I aplogize for being a bit obtuse, I'll try harder.

Nov 18, 10 3:38 pm  · 


Don't use the '@' as a way of responding, twitter has no versimilitude.

I think the idea of the 'handmade' is a nostalgic idea. What is truly handmade? Does drawing with a mayline and graphite somehow produce better architecture than modeling via rhino or revit? If it did then wouldnt, by the same logic, drawing in the sand be 'better' than the super technological straight edge and pencil?

I think we agree. Using contemporary or future technologies to simply recreate [at a faster rate] the design of the past [based on past processes of making] is not truthful at all. cnc milling a piece of wood to look like something Georgian in the name of expediency is not the same as lasercutting perforations into veneer to bring out it's thiness and make it translucent enough to be used as a soffit panel.

There's a truthfulness to any process and I don't think it has anything at all to do with the method as a nostalgic process at all. In contemporary production, using laser cut perforated metal as a sunscreen is much more honest than using fake-hand hewn wooden louvers.

The trick is merely to not fetishize the methods of the past, simply because they are old, nor to fetishize the methods of the future simply because they are new, but to fully examine the methods of the present, because that's our job. Or should be.

Nov 18, 10 3:57 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

Enzo Mari did a project that addresses this:

I like the tongue-in-cheekness of it. A designer with thousands of successful designs creates a set of instructions, a pile of wood, a box of nails and a hammer to make a DIY-backwoods-meets-Ikea chair... and calls a design.

Nov 18, 10 4:20 pm  · 

I'm maybe gonna throw up.

Then again, if Zumthor called the same thing 'architecture'. ... who knows.

I don't even care anymore, you broke my back.

Nov 18, 10 5:56 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn


Nov 18, 10 7:16 pm  · 

Ugh, and I cared so much about this post! Thanks for pooing on my dreams! BTW that chair is a complete piece of pretentious garbage and I know that you know that I know that you know that I'm effing right! And that even pisses me off more. Wonder if it's possible to feed this stupid thing JB's. Or perhaps just myself and it'll make everything okay.

Nov 19, 10 10:05 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn
Nov 19, 10 10:45 pm  · 


Nov 19, 10 10:46 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

Just going to leave this right here.

Nov 22, 10 11:28 pm  · 
olaf design ninja

so this is like really kitchy Art Noveau?

Nov 23, 10 1:03 am  · 
Distant Unicorn

Kind of.

Art Nouveau is an interesting bridge between classicism and modernism. Facets of Art Nouveau often 'humanized' modernist styles by incorporating organic and or representative forms.

While many works of Art Nouveau were or are highly stylized-- they remained truthful in their representations rather than the abstraction favored by modernism and even Art Deco.

But in terms of verisimilitude and in the different contexts of 'truthfulness,' various objects have varying amounts of 'truths' to them. Art Nouveau-- at least architecturally-- would be difficult to judge. One would have to separate the purely decorative forms from the functional forms. Truthfulness of the forms would dictate they would have to be both decorative and functional. Functional, however, really just means having or serving a function. Architecturally, functional would be a value that is tied more to performance, use et cetera. In a different meaning, functional could also be equated to something that evokes a intelligible idea or thought (like gargoyles).

For instance, the Louis Vuitton bag is historically truthful.

It's early 20th century type face and the use of a [trash] bag is a metaphor to carpetbaggers-- i.e., a bag created by necessity for placing a large amount of one's personal items when relocating. While carpetbaggers no longer exist today, they do have a modern day equivalent being "shopping cart ladies."

While it maybe in poor taste to evoke such an image using patent leather and gold leaf, it does create a discourse on the cultural heritage of the U.S. and to a lesser extent Europe. Despite that carpetbags were a sign of poverty, many carpet bags were often made of quite expensive materials with some being quite well-made.

The tufted pigs on the other hand are representionally truthful since they are pretty accurate representations of what pigs actually look like. Despite, you know, being made of tufted upholstered leather.

The obvious giveaway here was that the design took the time to sculpt the tits of the sow. That suggests that the designers of this particular work took a bit of effort to actually recreate an anatomically-correct pig rather than use the form of the pig simply for decoration.

Essentially, the form used was used truthfully in depicting what an actual pig looks like.

Nov 23, 10 1:45 am  · 

''The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for one false theory to be closer to the truth than another false theory''

Architecture can never be entirely truthful in all its shapes and forms.

However, it can reach a higher level than you've wanted to give it, UG.

I think versimilitude in architecture is about being truthful about how the form is generated. That rules out ZH, PS, FG, DL, NF, and nearly all of the big names.

It leaves those firms who directly relate form and material and all of the ethical consequences.

I'm going to hyphenate it for the sake of expediency. But I have yet to see a firm besides H&dM or PZ actually accomplish 'vm' aka fake truth.


I would, at this point, give a few examples, but I don't want to be too stupidly obvious.

Nov 23, 10 5:57 pm  · 

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