With Halloween just around the bend I’m reminded of one of my favorite haunts (no pun intended) for thinking about design – old graveyards. The monuments in all shapes and sizes are like a lexicon of design, sort of a mini museum without the alarms. My last blog post had a photo of an obelisk shaped town marker in Nantucket which inspired Dave Fisher to send me these obelisk
photos from a nearby cemetery. I had to grin inside at the thought that I’m not the only one strolling through the democracy of the dead, trying to keep my designers eye alive. Dave crafts free form wooden bowls which are featured in the November 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. He commented “To my eye, the most beautiful obelisk in the entire cemetery is the Mathers obelisk. Much of the reason, I believe, has to do with the base (plinth?). The quickening curve of the base roots it firmly to the ground, then leads the eye on a ride up to the obelisk itself. There is still a clear indication of where the obelisk itself begins, but without jarring the eye on the way up. The whole piece is organic, much like a tree rising from the ground. ”
I concur with Dave’s educated eye and would add that several other examples, the Roberts and Packard obelisks, look like they took a standard monument and plopped an obelisk on top of them. Not certain I ever noticed that before until they were side by side with the Mathers example. One is a unified organic composition, the others are just combinations of parts. There’s a powerful lesson illustrated here. How often does a design or a work of art fail because it’s a busy mechanical assemblage of parts rather than an organic flowering? I’m interested in your thoughts as you compare these different interpretations of a design.
George R. Walker