Looking Outward

How do objects inspire intensity and meaning in our lives? In Looking Outward, we contemplate the grounding principle of good design, the relationships we cultivate with the objects we cherish, and the merits of eschewing introspection.

Featured: Kinnow Cuprum Cutlery Set, Kinnow Cutlery Aurum Server Set and AYTM Moon Plate

Featured: Kinnow Cuprum Cutlery Set, Kinnow Cutlery Aurum Server Set and AYTM Moon Plate

 
 

We experience dozens of little interactions in a day and each encounter shapes us. Yet in contemplating what colours our day-to-day or what makes us who we are, we are often preoccupied with people. Could it be that the objects that structure our waking moments also influence the people we become?

Essay Chynna Lao
Art Direction Edana Isobel Jamora
Images Ivy Erlinger
 

Featured: Wingnut and Co. Hakame Vase, Sake cup, Shiro Sake cup, Shiro Sweet Plate, Momo Pink Koudai and Shiro White Kodai

Featured: Wingnut and Co. Hakame Vase, Sake cup, Shiro Sake cup, Shiro Sweet Plate, Momo Pink Koudai and Shiro White Kodai


When we consider the word interaction, we are often reminded of people. We imagine acquaintances happening upon each other at the local supermarket, strangers exchanging pleasantries at a bus terminal, or perhaps lovers reuniting in an airport after a long separation. What springs to mind is a conversation of sorts; be it a heated exchange or a meaningful glance or perhaps even the lack thereof, to interact is often to meet with another, act upon each other in some way, and experience a resulting change.

We experience dozens of little interactions in a day and each encounter shapes us. Yet in contemplating what colours our day-to-day or what makes us who we are, we are often preoccupied with people. Could it be that the objects that structure our waking moments also influence the people we become?

In A Frame of Life, designer Ilse Crawford describes her creative process as focused on “the sensory thing”, on encountering an object as a “thing that touches you.” Rather than a choice between form and function, her emphasis on interior design as a manner of engagement suggests the potential for well-made objects to enhance or make meaningful one’s everyday. Superlative design elevates ordinary experiences by infusing them with ease and elegance. The beauty or poetry of a thing touches us; a well-crafted object is one that stimulates us as physical beings and enables us to better inhabit our mental and physical space.


"Superlative design elevates ordinary experiences by infusing them with ease and elegance. The beauty or poetry of a thing touches us; a well-crafted object is one that stimulates us as physical beings and enables us to better inhabit our mental and physical space."

Featured: AYTM Vivero Steel Watering Can

Featured: AYTM Vivero Steel Watering Can


In an age where products are so often shrouded by brand narratives weaving tales of 'a better you', the value of an object independent of its storyline receives less consideration. Yet in navigating our relationship with our cherished objects, it is undeniable that their value consists not simply of form, function or branding. “Whether you find it or not,” says designer Konstantin Grcic, “the difference between good design and an okay product is somewhere hidden in it a relationship you have with the object.” Like Crawford posits, an object’s value can be found in our subjective experience of it, in the extent that it infuses our lives with ease, intensity and meaning. “Something that touches you, something you relate to, that you identify with. Something subjective. Its character,” says Grcic.

An adage often uttered is that to understand the self, one need only look inward. And while introspection is certainly necessary to achieve a deeper awareness of one’s state of mind, perhaps there is also merit in doing the opposite. Could it be that the narratives that underpin our character are located not merely within but around us, embedded in the minutiae of our daily lives, in the many interactions that make and unmake who we are? And could it be that the objects that we surround ourselves with, that touch us and enable us to live better and with ease – could it be that they too lay a hand in who we become?


"Could it be that the narratives that underpin our character are located not merely within but around us, embedded in the minutiae of our daily lives, in the many interactions that make and unmake who we are?"

 
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