Design. When it’s good, it cuts through the everyday mundane. It gives us color or something to wonder at and breaks up the workaday world. If life seems in a rut, your vision just many shades of gray, seek out some public art, some creative architecture and enjoy what the human soul is capable of.
Assemble is an architecture and design firm formerly located in East London, an area that is industrial, warehouses, nothing to look at, to draw people there, until Assemble assembled this temporary building on Sugar Street across from their offices. They needed an open collaborative work space and had a 2 year lease on a lot across the street. They built a building that could be disassembled but they wanted a front facade that at least they could enjoy looking at from their office windows. So they took small concrete tiles and dyed them various pastel colors and arranged them like the skin of a tropical fish. Simple right? It became an Instagram sensation with the location geo-tagged and became selfie central.
Granted I’m not a worldly sophisticated man. Just a ‘burb middle-aged man like so many of y’all. But my drab day to day existential existence can be expanded through the many podcasts I listen to. One of my favorites is “99% Invisible” where Roman Mars explores the world of design, the sometimes invisible forces that have a lot of thought and creativity behind them. This episode is called Instant Grammification and is about design that is “Instagram-Ready,” as they explain it… flat textured surfaces with pops of color are perfectly made for the Instagram app. For those that might be living off the grid in the mountains surviving off the land and prepping for the sure to come zombie apocalypse Instagram is a social media app that is designed around the camera photo. Selfie central.
Luis Barragan is an architect from Mexico and is famous for perfectly photographed spaces, bold colors, courtyards with a pink or blue geometric patterns. Granted he was doing his magic long before Instagram was a thought. Perfect for a picture, so much so that one of his roof patios with a white horse behind it takes a fee to take your photo with the backdrop. Instagram spaces is now a thing for designers and architects to feature their latest building with some space that is an perfect backdrop for folks to feature on their Instagram feed. It wasn’t when Barragan was creating his cool. Folks just want that photo… to say they were there. It’s a thing.
So these places are faraway, chances are there are spaces in your hometown, interesting buildings, public art, graffitied walls. Go visit them and take some time to take it in. Go on take a selfie and post that shit to Instagram or Tweet it, Facebook if you must. Or just pick up Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, read it, and open your eyes to design and the marvel of the creativity of the human spirit. Turn off that 24 hour news cycle, stop searching for articles and news stories and posting them to solidify your sense of social justice against whatever side you find yourself on, and just enjoy design.
So you don’t have to visit Samarkand or East London or Mexico City to enjoy design, get back out into the world, wear that mask and seek out design. The tiled floor and coffee bar in the Intelligentsia Coffee house in LA is one such place. It’s a perfect camera shot for Instagram or it’s just a perfect space to exist in.