Bib. Package 10 (22 March)


Armleder, John, Mathieu Copeland, Gustav Metzger, Mai-Thu Perret, and Clive Phillpot, eds. Voids: A Retrospective. Zurich: JRP/Ringier, 2009.

Citation / Annotation:

Fukusawa, Naoto, and Jasper Morrison, Super Normal, ex. cat. (n.p.: Lars Muller, 2006).

Fukusawa, Naoto, and Jasper Morrison, Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary (Zurich: Lars Muller, 2007).

Hille, Thomas R. Inside the Large Small House: The Residential Legacy of William W. Wurster. Ann Arbor: the author, 1994.

Peters, Richard C. “W. W. Wurster.” Journal of Architectural Education 33, no. 2 (November 1979): 36–41.

Naoto Fukusawa and Jasper Morrison’s Super Normal exhibition looks at objects that have settled into themselves to such an extent that they become generic. Shaped as much by the practical necessities of manufacturing as by function and convention, they distil the range of similar objects, but not into the superlative example: on the contrary, they are absolutely commonplace, not becoming essential so much as becoming nothing. Drawing  their examples from across the spectrum of consumer goods, from Dollarama to DWR, Fukusawa and Morrison propose this as an example to follow; the germ cell of the exhibition was an ordinary, somewhat clunky wine glass that Morrison has at home and which inspired his own design of a glass, but the orientation towards the perfectly ordinary is most evident in Fukusawa’s industrial design work.

What Super Normal describes is not so much levelling of things—whether up or down—as a typological blurring in which not only the novelty and extravagance of the self-consciously designed object but also the blunders and indecencies of the ill-considered one melt away, leaving a restful sameness, a sort of adequacy of things that call no attention to themselves, a blissful condition of nothingness in which commodities might somehow go back to just being objects and we might be led away from the perpetual dissatisfaction that characterizes the contemporary form of commodity fetishism in which even the single leftover emotion of “having” identified by Marx has become obsolete, superseded by a perpetually renewed feeling of wanting.

For my purposes—much like the work of the architect William Wurster, who advised architects that “the frame for living is life itself, so do the thing which leaves room for the growth of the occupant without his scraping his knuckles against your arbitrary decisions with each change in his development” (Peters 38), and also commented that “interiors of Douglas fir plywood are more expensive than sheet rock but look cheaper, so we use Douglas fir plywood” (Hille 13)—Super Normal articulates many of the problems I have with design (architectural and graphic), justifies them in some way, and suggests ways towards resolving them.