About the book:
Life in Color is arranged by colour in a rainbow of beauty. Each chapter, devoted to a colour, begins with a short, inspiring essay that explores the qualities, meaning, and symbolism of that colour. Colour chapters include photographs that are predominantly blue, orange, green, yellow, purple and red. Smaller sections present images in silver, brown, black, gold, white, and “unseen colour”—not seen with the naked eye, such as laser, the universe, and microscopic images. Throughout, interesting quotes and surprising short insights in the captions give the reader an entirely new look at the colour in the world around us.
Designers generally do not think to design the “ordinary.” If anything, they live in fear of people saying their designs are “nothing special.” Of course, undeniably, people do have an unconscious everyday sense of “normal,” but rather than try to blend in, the tendency for designers is to try to create “statement” or “stimulation.” So “normal” has come to mean “unstimulating” or “boring” design.
It’s not just designers; people who buy design and clients who commission designers do not see “normal” as a design concept or even entertain the idea of creating a “new normal.” To dare, then, to design something “normal” within this prevailing scheme of design common sense raises the stakes; it makes for a consciously designed normal above-and-beyond normal that what we might call “Super Normal.” Why super? Well, if our sense of normal falls within the realm of non-design, then the unthinkable attempt to undercut all the excesses and bold, brash statements recognised as design must conversely transcend them. “Normal” refers to things as they’ve come to be; thus “Super Normal” is the designing of things just as “normal” as what we’ve come to know, albeit in no way anonymous. There’s a creative intent at work here, even if that intent may be regarded not so much as designing, but simply not going against the inevitable flow of things as they come to be.“Super Normal” is less concerned with designing beauty than seemingly homely but memorable elements of everyday life. Certainly nothing “flash”or “eye-catching”; never contrived, but rather almost “naff” yet somehow appealing. As if, when viewing something with expectations of a new design, our negative first impressions of “nothing much” or “just plain ordinary” shifted to “… but not bad at all.” Overcoming an initial emotional denial, our bodily sensors pick up on an appeal we seem to have known all along and engage us in that strangely familiar attraction. Things that possess a quality to shake us back to our senses are “Super Normal.”
When people hear the word “design,” they think “special”; creating “special” things is what everyone, designers and users alike, assume design is all about. When in fact, both sides are playing out a mutal fantasy far removed from real life. I’d like us to explore whatever we might conceive as Super Normal. I take an interest in collecting such things. I want to share the fun, the pleasure of reconfirming an appeal in things we’d disregarded as “naff.” Not that I propose sticking “Certified Super Normal” product design award labels on things. It’s much more of a quietly seen unseen, a refreshing surprise that awakens the person who had thought of looking for something obviously special in design by instead reconfirming what we already hold important and so perhaps letting us break free of our current design paradigm straitjacket. When I’m true to my feelings, I really “get” Super Normal.
Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary by Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison
Next to the multi-tasking, attention-deficit frenzy of the Web, the printed page is blissfully disconnected. What might have been interpreted as print’s weakness turns out to be a strength: print is serene and meditative in a world where these qualities are ever more scarce.
And if print is cold, it is offset by the warmth of paper. Set against the harsh glare of Vistas and e-books, paper draws you in, each page soaking up and softly reflecting light. That’s why we so often find ourselves printing copies of anything that takes more than a few minutes to read. We shuffle the pages, we feel their weight, we scrawl in their margins, and the paper itself communicates: a deckled edge conveying a certain refinement, the thickness or texture catching our fingers, the turning of a page imparting momentum to the text itself.
“The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal
When the potter Edmund de Waal inherited a collection of Japanese netsuke from his great uncle, the 264 carved toggles – traditionally used to fasten purses to kimonos – opened up a window into the tragic family story of a great European dynasty ripped apart by the turbulent history of the 20th century. Here he tells the stories behind some of the jewels of his collection