Saturday, 7 November 2009

Bad design kills - a gnome for the gnomes

I think we have a serious problem on our hands. I predict unrest in monolithic proportions - if the garden gnomes around the world get wind of this.

I am sorry to say this but the garden gnome has been unceremoniously dethroned as the king of all redundant garden objects. I have just found an object that (as hard as it is to believe) is more redundant than the garden gnome!




I have been looking for a sundial to use as a focal point in a garden that we are finishing up, and found that I had 2 choices. The first being unsuitable because of its rustic look, but the second was closer to what I was looking for. Until I looked closer...

It didn't work. It was made for a Northern Hemisphere garden.

The only obvious answer to its source is that it was made here in South Africa. Surely it couldn't be cheaper or at all necessary to import a piece of concrete from somewhere above the equator?

So that means it was intentionally designed that way?

The person who designed this object is fully deserving of all Dwarvish Wrath that will surely come their way. But I really hope the Gnomes don't forget to scorn the people who sell, distribute and buy a piece of rubbish like this.

I surprised myself at the irrational irritation produced during this discovery. But after giving it some more thought, I realised that what really upset me has less to do with sundials and solidarity with gnomes and more to do with lazy, short-sighted, ill thought out or just plain bad design.

To my way of thinking - a man-made object with no function must have an allegorical, or an aesthetic reason for being. This had neither.

Good design has a lot of responsibility resting on its shoulders. I believe good design should make the world a better place to live in. It should make our lives better, easier, more pleasurable, and simpler. It should save us time, or money, or give us more energy. And truly good designs should be able to fulfill many or all of those descriptions at once.

Unfortunately there are too many bad designs out there, and too many people propagating them. To a certain extent nature evolves, we should take a leaf out of her book. We as intelligent beings should be looking to improve our design with every step, and in every aspect of our lives.

And we should shun bad design as if the lives of gnomes depend on it.

9 comments:

susan morrison said...

I'm taking a sustainable design course right now and one of the concepts I've been introduced to is stackable design - the idea that any design element added to the landscape has to perform more than one function. Sounds like the only thing the sundial is doing is adding a non-functioning aesthetic element.

(But it still sounds better than a garden gnome to me.)

Anonymous said...

BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!
Finding quality, (relatively)affordable, appropriate and especially original garden ornaments and/or focal points is a great challenge. And the wide selection of ugly rubbish, from afro-kitch to euro-fuzzy... "irrational irritation" you call it. All that is irrational is that we're still protesting instead of succumbing to the soul-numbing mediocrity of it!

Anonymous said...

PS: left a comment on Blotanical for you ;)

ryan said...

Thinking through the implications of a northern sundial going to the southern hemisphere just made my head explode.
I find myself liking garden gnomes more and more as the years go by. Still don't have one, but at this rate I might have one in about twenty years.

Ross said...

It's surprising how what we sometimes dislike gets turned around - I've found the same with artificial grass, and Crotons.
Yes, I grudgingly admit there is a place for gnomes in the 'whimsy' category of garden objects, but it will be a very surprised gnome that finds me as its owner...

ryan said...

For me instead of garden whimsy, they are more like garden irony. But like I said, I'm still about twenty years away from having one. I think they are more common in the U.K. countries than they are here.

Ross said...

Maybe less iron-y and more concrete-y?

Chookie said...

Ross! That's a terrible pun! Argh, the good old northern hemisphere stuff sent south. It's surprising how many useless astronomy books are sold by bookshops which should know better...

Ross said...

Thanks Chookie - I'll take that as a compliment! I'm sorry to hear that you guys have the same problem on your continent.
It drives me mad to see all the Northern Hemisphere garden advice books sold here in the South Africa!

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