New Design Magazines: Bad Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal

I got a new batch of design magazines lately, and oh boy are they great. I spend lots and lots of money on design magazines, it’s really expensive too because I buy lots of imported Japanese graphics magazines that cost $20 or $25 a pop. I could have bought a lot of hardware for the price of the magazines on my shelf. And when I say new, I mean these just arrived 2 months after release, but are full of tips that will not arrive generally into the western hemisphere for years, Japan is definitely about 3 years ahead of the rest of the world in graphic design, and I’m just 2 or 3 months behind that. I’m definitely not going to tell you the names of the magazines where I find my favorite tips, that’s my secret. But I’m not sure it would do anyone any good to look at them anyway, you have to be pretty fluent to get the details.
But sometimes you get a really great freebie too. I could not believe the free catalog from Design Within Reach. Wow. All your designer furniture fantasies in one catalog. Eames bent wood furniture, including the famous recliner that will probably forevermore be known as the Fraisier Crane chair (no fair, I saw it first). Mies van der Rohe strappy leather minimalist chairs. Breuer chairs in chrome plated steel tubing and thin flat leather planes. Noguchi tables and sofas. Forget the Aeron, I want the Eames Soft Pad Chair, a steal at only $2100. But when I got to this picture of a Le Corbusier armchair, I burst into tears. I saw the Warhol-Basquiat poster hanging on the wall, and I was momentarily overwhelmed by a flood of memories of the times when Warhol and Basquiat died. In both cases, I was inconsolable, and cried and cried for weeks. Darn it, I had to wipe away a tear right now. It seemed that when they died, the universe spoke up and said there’s no place for an artist like them, and maybe not for you either. But I digress.
The le Corbu armchair is an interesting reversal, you are a square peg and the chair is a round hole. It is the embodiment of le Corbu’s eccentric "modulor" scheme of relating architectural scale to the scale of the human body. It’s just like all of le Corbu’s works, an assault on your personal space. It’s too deep and too short, and he made it this way deliberately. You could maybe lie down on it if it were deeper or wider, but every single proportion is made to tell your body one thing: you’re not built to sit in this chair. On the other hand, the severe Bauhaus designs look like a forbidding, angular metal sculpture, but are very comfortable.
While le Corbu was influential, I think he was a major crackpot and megalomaniac. He wanted to do crazy things like level Paris and construct a planned community that was more reminiscient of the Reichsplatz than the City of Lights. Stupid designs like this le Corbu chair were the death of Modernism.

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