Friday, June 13, 2014

Adopting the napkin metaphor, and failing

Tamara found a book full of napkin sketches at the National Building Museum in DC a few months ago, Dinner for Architects: A Collection of Napkin Sketches by Winfried Nerdinger, Ingrid Li, and Philip K. Howard. The book has an interesting premise, that of the napkin sketch as a early capture device for architects.
    The sketches themselves range from quick scribbles to more elaborate works of art; they are striking enough to carry the book on their own, with the wattage of the collective reputations behind them.
The book doesn't really satisfy the implicit promise -- that the napkin drawings are actually early idea sketches and offer insight into an achitect's design / mind at an early / informal point. These napkins simply don't seem spontaneous or driven by much passion.

They are more akin to a staged napkin sketch, such as I stumbled upon in The New Everyday View on Ambient Intelligence (by Stefano Marzano & Emile Aarts from the Philips Design group in the Netherlands). This book is full of ideas that Philips Design worked on, one of which shows a gentleman writing a little love note on a napkin (a overly pristine napkin) which transmitted (magically, or so it seems) to a remote display device that projects said love note on the ceiling of a bedroom, hopefully his sweeties' room. The image is contrived and artificial (the idea itself isn't bad, but the presentation kills it).

Both books are predicated on the culturally grounded idea that napkins have something to do with ideas (the architecture book), spontaineity / informality (short love notes written is haste), and communication.

No comments:

Post a Comment