January 22, 2008

Thoughts on originality, by Koen De Winter

Many people, both on the active and on the consuming side of the design community, share a restless fascination for "originality". This fascination is more than the usual form of design entertainment provided by design magazines and exhibitions. For nearly a century, originality has been closely linked to creativity. It is often seen as the inevitable result of that creative process. As in other creative activities like writing, composing and sometimes cooking, it has also become the ultimate criteria for the use of creativity in the development of products. There is little doubt about the fact that even in Western culture this longing for originality is a relatively recent phenomena. Tracing its origins is a task for social anthropologists and not the purpose of this essay. One constructive hypothesis is that the willingness of the modern movement to establish new standards and break with the past "at any cost", has not only generated new standards but also a new vocabulary in which "new", "original" and "innovative" have been redefined. Instead of defining the character of an object, they started to define original as a quality. To some extend art historians have re-written Western European art history in function of the innovative role different artist played in their times, but there is not much evidence that this was indeed the real motivation at the time.
Skill and craftsmanship, mastering perspective and depth, conformity to the requests of the patron and professional competitiveness were more important motivations than the search of originality. Even in the early XXth century originality did not play a role in the relationship between Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso when they both were the pillars under the cubist movement. In fact their collages and paintings of that period are almost identical...... HERE MORE

Posted by faraz at January 22, 2008 11:39 PM