Favorite Things

I was asked by FX magazine to name my 4 favorite things. Here they are:

Polly Pocket: Plastic toys which open up, swivel and fold to reveal incredibly intricate, pastel pink and blue landscapes. They have the kind of beauty of Faberge eggs combined with the liberating democrasy of cheapness. If only all design could be so ingenously utopian!

The Crown Jewels: Mysterious, ancient, symbolic and very shiny. Dense with obscure meaning, they show design that is far beyond funtion: swords not for cutting peoples heads off, but representing ideas. And of course that is what design is really about. Functionalism is a refuge for designers who don't understand either themselves or the world that surrounds them.

Tarmac: Invented by accident when a barrel of tar fell of the back of a wagon and was mopped up with ash. Tarmac is practical, mendable, and extendable in that reflects a world where everything breaks, is in the wrong place, and is the wrong size. But it also does other things too: it makes a kind of abstracted ground, like a new crust to the earth. Formed out of the left overs after refining crude oil, there is something cyclic about stuff that was once on the surface being sucked out of the ground and reapplied. The Situationists said that beneath the pavement was the beach. Reality is much more exotic.

Silk Cut Packaging:
In responce to the health warning that fag packets now carry, Silk Cut reworked their package design. The warning is printed on the lower portion of the packet. The size of the warning meant that the logo couldnt fit where it used to go. The proportions of the box left nowhere to go but up. Which leaves the logo sliced in two by the flip top lid. Right in the heart of the badge, a gaping hole opens up. Its dark and deviant, a kind of self mutilation, like Ritchie Manic carving 4 REAL into his arm.

This shift of the logo is one of the neatest, most beautiful, subtle and troubling pieces of 3D design. Its packaging design as cynically ruthless as Damien Hirsts chainsaw, and as clever and nimble as the surgeons scalpel which will one day slice open my chest open in an attempt to save my life.

Posted by sam at May 16, 2004 11:05 PM

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