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Social Disease

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned an essay I was writing on Ruskin and Morris in relation to Industry, Mass-production and it implications on the craftsmen. Well after a few emails I’ve decided to throw up some sections of it. Enjoy.

The Social Disease – tyranny over the worker:

In today’s age we can and have designed, constructed and utilised technologies, materials and methods with the predicted out come of reduced labour (in cost and energy), faster output and cheaper materials. All of which is designed to make life of everyday citizens better, giving those less wealthy a greater lifestyle, one of proposed comforts and perceived necessities. However in doing this workers have been made just that – workers; starved of creativity and individualism which has been depicted as ‘The Great Crime’[1] against humanity.

These developments lead to the introduction of the machine age and subsequently industrialisation, which came about due to the greed of capitalism and consumers. In order to produce items at a much faster rate a system of divided labour was introduced which consisted of the item being broken down into parts, tasks simplified into production fazes, resulting in the division of labour. This created a faster, cleaner way to produce elements. It meant, however, that workers were repetitively undertaking one task. Whilst this course of action enabled parts to be produced more rapidly subsequently dropping the overall cost of the product, there was and is no design or creativity for the workers. This results in little or no sense of work satisfaction.[2] Workers became so consumed with a single monotonous task that it is said to have consequently resulted in so little “intelligence… left in a man [that there] is not enough to make a pin, or a nail, but exhausts itself in making the point of a pin or the head of a nail.”[3]

Whilst the gains are monetary for the manufacturer, thus understandable for their desire for such production methods, I find it hard to understand how the consumer and production worker stand to gain. John Ruskin explained how the consumer’s and factory worker’s convince themselves of the benefit of this system through a symptom coined as the ‘social disease’. This social disease is a vicious cycle of (as stated earlier) proposed comforts and perceived necessities.

 

Starved of creativity and satisfaction in their work factory employees began to “look to wealth as the only means of pleasure.”[4] It is here that the cycle completes itself.

The idea, where wealth brings happiness, can be seen in the time of 1860 through the commissioning of William Morris’s first house. Morris saw that there was this desire to build something out of one material in the attempt to disguise it as another, demonstrating the social discourse of the day. Even though the public and those whom owned the houses could tell that it was a fake façade, designed to give the illusion of wealth (and therefore happiness), those with the opportunity still chose to utilise the embellishment.

For the rich the objects (of true art or value) were and are largely a show of wealth and social status, portraying an idea of joy and grandeur; a life which those less fortunate dreamed of. With the development of materials and technologies the poorer classes could afford imitation pieces to give a false illusion of wealth[5]. The imitation pieces “sense of beauty…had not entirely disappeared [however it is important to note that]…people called those things beautiful which seemed to them proper to their social situation.”[6] Hence the social discourse. People perceive wealth and social standing as the only means to gain happiness. Not through creativity or understanding of art. John Ruskin and William Morris sore that the “nature of the disease threatening early industrial Britain (as D.H. Lawrence described it: ‘The great crime which the moneyed classes and promoters of industry committed in palmy Victorian days’) was the condemning of the workers…”[7]

 

 

It is through viewing the lack of pleasure in the society and understanding its cause those like John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-1896) set forth to educate the public in the tyranny of Industrialisation.

 


[1] {Gerard, 1988 #2} (D.H. Lawrence. Nottingham and the mining countryside, in phoenix, Heinemann, 1936, p.138.) , p. 2

[2] As workers don’t follow an object through its entire creation they have very little connection to the finished product.

[3] {Ruskin, 1977 #1}, p. 23

[4] {Ruskin, 1977 #1}, p.20

[5] The poorer classes, whom used to be the creators, were now reduced to buying imitation art to find happiness as they couldn’t afford to compete against mass-production in large industry, resulting in the loss of creativity and joy.

[6] {Clutton-Brock #3}, p.61

[7] {Gerard, 1988 #2} (D.H. Lawrence. Nottingham and the mining countryside, in phoenix, Heinemann, 1936, p.138.) , p. 2

Procrastination Chart

Thought this was fantastic!!

Procrastination Chart

procrastination flow chart

procrastination flow chart

Chair Inspirations

Whilst I’ve been researching and making my chairs for a commission some blogs have been useful and inspirational to my work and perhaps to the way in which I will undertake future work.

Check these blogs out:

 Chairs Notes

Jack Baumgartner

TurboCAD V’s FormZ

 

Why haven’t I posted anything for so long?? Well I have a new toy which is taking up all my ‘free’ time: TurboCad, Professional 15!!!!!

 

Part of the Design Arts course at my university is to teach students FormZ. This is a great program for 3d work but is very poor in 2d. Trying to convert a drawing from 3d to 2d is a nightmare and the 2d program is frustrating and not up to scratch.

My new found enthusiasm for TurboCad has come about due to the fact that as a woodworker it might be nice to model your work in 3d but it’s a waste of time as it takes many hours and, as stated above, to try then to convert the object to a plan, elevation and side elevation or just a projection drawing with the correct lines (that is hidden lines etc) is just plain ridiculous.

I’m rather happy doing technical drawings of my furniture by the good old method of pencil and paper; however my hopeful future employer told me that if I could learn and bring ‘CAD‘ into his workshop I would be a highly valued employee which would also give me more reason to state my desires to be considered part of their design team as well as a maker.

 

Anyway enough reasoning to the coming’s by the program and more on why I love it so much.

TurboCad comes with three manuals. (This is a large part as to why I’m telling you all about this program as you will all be able to learn it with ease – even those whom class themselves computer illiterate) One manual is of course the everyday ‘this button does this’ manual which is extremely thick and daunting. The wonderful thing about this program is that it comes with two other program manuals known as ‘Training Guide’s’. There step by step introductory and advanced training programs, not only telling you what each application or button does and it actually gives you step by step lessons to complete! ‘CAD‘ also has a powerful 3d aspect to its program and from what I’ve seen so far FormZ had better improve it’s 2d program otherwise there out of league.

 

In essence, if you want to have some creative fun, advance your practice, allow you to easily engage with industry and nut out those hard angles and mathematical or general design problems with ease, I strongly suggest you invest in a copy.

 

I’ve added some of my FormZ designs and models to show you and when I’ve designed some stuff if TurboCad I’ll post some images from that program as well.

William Morris

“Everything made by man’s hand has a form, which must
be either beautiful or ugly; beautiful if in accord with nature, ugly if it thwarts her”. William Morris

Commissioned Chairs

Thought i’d put up some images of the scale models I have been making for a commission.

I Upon completion of the two scale 1:10 models I placed them at the corresponding table model. It was clear straight away that there were dimension issues. The chairs seemed too big for the table. As an old country chair perhaps the size would have been ok, however in a modern environment against that table it did not sit well.

The table is quite large so the chairs needed to be adapted to sit in harmony with the table. I hoped to overcome this issue by reducing the chair size attempting to maintain its proportions. From here my colleague designing the table and I decided to produce larger scale (1:75) models. This was in the hope of clarifying the proportion issues.

From this model I realised that by removing the splay from the seat to reduce the size of the chair and reduce the complication of the joinery the chair lost its finesse.  It resulted in the chair looking bulky and bland, loosing its flow and invitation. (The photo is quite flattering though)

Thus there is much more designing required so enough blabber, it’s back to the drawing board.