ThEsis prep: precedent studies

Within the thesis I have set up for myself a conceptual framework to work within using three things: aesthetics, curation, and modes of facilitation.  The thesis explores the roles of each at the scale of the architectural discipline and at the scale of the individual designer and what he or she produces.  

1) Aesthetics - For the sake of my thesis can be defined as the appearance of things and are created using form, scale, proportion, and material (color, texture, weight). The aesthetics of a designed subject can be interpreted by an audience using culturally constructed knowledge, academic studies, contextual inferences, or capitalistic marketing ploys.

2) Curation - Is done with self-awareness, or not, but is the choosing of one thing over another because of the aesthetics of that thing and what can be "read" into that choice.

3) Modes of Facilitation - How and through what means a lifestyle is presented to and adopted by an individual.
4) Lifestyle - The cumulative world of objects and actions of an individual that reflects their values and beliefs.Sometimes lifestyles and reality are in conflict.Many times the lifestyle is aspirational and is actively curated.

(In Short: Aesthetics + Curation +  Modes of Facilitation = Lifestyle)

The work began by analyzing three precedents that I found had strong influences of aesthetics, curation, and facilitation.  By studying what structures these frameworks I was able to learn what was important and identified how they eventually culminated into what I’ve identified as the “lifestyle.”  Each one presented something that was vital - in the Pastoral Ideal it is the reproduced image, in the Eames vs. Levittown it is the product, and in the example of Marfa, Texas it is the place.  These are the things that embody the potency of the lifestyle.

The Pastoral Ideal  --->  Image

Kinfolk magazine, familiar with it?  If not click here.  And then here.  What I find so intriguing about the magazine is how a design aesthetic got adopted as a lifestyle.  I decided to call this aesthetic, The Pastoral Ideal, because it's centered around a bucolic and natural, seemingly more simple and slow way of life.  There are two ironies in this aesthetic though.  The first is that everything, EVERYTHING, has been precisely curated to give this appearance and the second is that it's a lifestyle aesthetic that is based off the agrarian past, a life that I must stress was neither simple, easy, always beautiful, and never curated.  So this really bothered me but even more it fascinated me.  

Eames vs. Levittown  --->  Product

Having reached a period of greater industrialization and manufacturing (thank you WWII) architects and designers began adopting these new techniques, which allowed the masses greater access to high-quality design.  Both the houses of Levittown and the Eames lounger were products of this new opportunity, except one is regarded with disdain and the other fetches thousands of dollars on luxury auction websites.  

From Juliet Schor's The Overpsent American

[ p. 61 ] The Cost of Status: “Another way to think about the costs of status is to consider product we do not purchase, for status reasons.  Aluminum siding is an excellent insulator, never needs painting, and is extremely durable, thereby saving homeowners many thousands of dollars.  Why don’t more people use it?  A common explanation is that it’s “unaesthetic.”  But what does this mean?  Our sense of the “aesthetic” is drenched in class associations. How about the warehouse, which went from being “unaesthetic” to a fashionable dwelling? The real problem with aluminum siding is not that it’s objectively ugly, but that it has a decidedly low-class image.  As a consequence, millions of people won’t use it, saying they think it’s ugly.  Indeed, it is proscribed in many middle- and upper-middle-income communities, a testament to the need to keep up the class image.  The proliferation of such “taste codes” and restrictions indicates a whole realm of social costs paid to the god of positional consumption.”

Eames Lounger = Decidedly high class in today's society (but not so high as to seem unapproachable!)

Levittown - Decidedly low class and left to its own devices.

Marfa, Texas  --->  Place

The power of place is illustrated nicely with the use of Marfa, Texas.  It's a large scale example of how aesthetics (of a place) leads to curation (of an experience) which ultimately culminates in a lifestyle.  Donald Judd moves from NYC to now-where Texas (I've been there, really it is NO WHERE) to make art.  More artist join him and soon do art-viewers.  The aesthetic of the desert is cool, Marfa is isolated so it's also a bit eccentric and rugged.  People like that, it makes them feel bohemian.  Soon music festivals and food trucks arrive in town.  Hotels are established.  Liz Lambert and Lake|Flato meet and make great stuff happen (really, they both do great work).  They decide that they can make great stuff happen in other Texas cities borrowing from the same Marfa aesthetic and vibe.  Then Beyoncé.  Yup she goes to Marfa and takes an iconic jumping photo in front of the Prada "store."  Cue the hoards of devoted bees swarming the city and the "store."  And around and around we go!

I was right on the money: The Design-Savy Texas Hotelier Who's Making the Desert A Destination

Discursive Images