I think I may be something of a jaded person sometimes – no, it’s true, at times I am cricital, skeptical, even cynical, and find that occasions of real inspiration are few and far apart.
But even I get caught up now and then, and it seems this happens often when Bjarke Ingels opens his mouth… so I thought I’d share a few hastily scrawled notes on that, if for no other reason then at least to express my admiration (and hopefully explain what drives it), and also spread the idea of even grumpy old people like myself being happy about something.
Here, enjoy one of his tour-de-forces first, if you haven’t already:
Now, obviously Bjarke is charming and funny and knows how to work both a presentation and an audience, and that is really cool. As lectures on architecture go, in my limited experience with them, this kind of feels like eating ice cream for dinner.
But – and this is what I like – it’s not all ice cream.
By Bjarke’s logic, and to continue with the eating analogy, he believes that, rather than choosing between forcing some politically correct but bland or bad tasting health sludge down your gullet, or opting out of health entirely and just eat the aforementioned ice cream, you should make food that is both nutritious and healthy and provides you with a lovely eating experience of aroma, taste and appearance.
Actually, this is no bad analogy when I think about it, becaus it obviously leads to this question: – the idea of food that is both healthy and delicious has become quite ubiquitous and should not surprise anyone these days, why is it that this trend seems so new and jawdropping when applied to architeture, as Bjarke Ingels does?
Unmodestly, I like to think I’ve thought along these lines for a while, as I’m sure others also have – like, what if one of the powers of design could be to make the things society or the world desperately needs fashionable somehow? Even identifying said things, which are often not what seems most obvious or alluring?
What if we, designers, found other ways of thinking in terms of added value in our work, besides the (let’s face it) old-hat concept of desperately trying to create the “designer classic” of the future?
This is why I like Bjarke and his work so much – because even though you can certainly find flaws in his plans, ideas and projects, you’re still faced with two facts:
1. – that he and his company, notwithstanding the comic book presentations, rap music and humor, are completely serious about their ideals and willing to do a lot of homework to explain how they’re supposed to work, and
2. – when Bjarke speaks of hedonism and having a good experience, having a conscience is an indispensable part of it; you’re not just indulging yourself egoistically. To him, this is a requisite of any project.
It’s important to note that you may disagree with BIG’s way of realising those ideals, and that they may not at all be the only propositions one might come up with.
That said though, I think we should really be happy about this example of how it’s actually possible (in these ways, and so maybe in other ways as well) to be joyous, humorous and playful about using technological power, granted by mankind’s struggle through history towards modern society, in trying to create even greater societies and even better technology.
We should also appreciate the message, built in to the concept of hedonistic sustainability, that you can seek enjoyment while still being a responsible person, and that combining joy and responsibility actually strenghtens both.
Rock on, Bjarke!
Update: – Wired featured a large piece on Bjarke which is now available online, and I’m happy to find that Williams (the piece’s author) seems to harbor the same fascination with some of the same main strokes of mr. BIG’s way as I do.
It makes for a helluvalot more spreading of these generous and necessary ideas that guys like that hook on to them than, well, guys like me. Kudos, sir.