dezeen Will Wiles February 2016
Designers will naturally assume, or at least hope, that their work will “spark joy” on some level or other, and be either beautiful or useful if not both. It’s quite right to say that designers should try to make durable and versatile objects out of recyclable materials that users can repair if they wish, but it’s also not terribly helpful, because designers are told that sort of thing all the time.
Indeed, “spark joy” recalls William Morris’s “golden rule”: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Morris said that in 1880, amid a much earlier stuff-panic fuelled by Victorian over-decoration and general aesthetic horror at the vulgar, cluttering implications of mechanical manufacturing.
It’s tempting to imagine that clutter-crazes are a cyclical feature of economic life. Like the proverbial skyscraper index, which discerns signs of recession from the number of “world’s-tallest” towers under construction, we might be able to use “peak stuff” moments to detect an oncoming downturn.