On the wall there are dozens of scissors. We’re at the Eames’ Words exhibit at the LA Architecture & Design Museum, a curated riff on quotes from the iconic designers, Charles and Ray Eames. All exhibits focus on the duo’s design philosophy: identify a human need and create just for that, no frills necessary. Hence the scissors: each pair intended for a specific purpose, be it cutting hair, food, plants, or ribbon in ceremonies.
Celebrating the simple is everywhere. It’s not just LA – we’ve seen it in London at the Science Museum’s Hidden Heroes , This is Design at the Design Museum, and even 2011’s Boring Conference. All spotlight everyday things and marvel at the imagination that made them possible. The clothes peg? The ubiquitous biro? Try thinking of something just as elegant, just as basic, just so equally suited to one singular task that nothing else could possibly replace.
So what’s going on? Either we’ve run out of things to talk about, or it’s part of a movement against the chaos of modern life. In a world with more stuff and invention than ever before we need to remember where it all came from. As technology makes the impossible possible it’s just too easy to create the show without the know. But every great innovation – no matter how snazzy – stems from one simple insight and one simple solution. And with a media buzz that never stops it’s refreshing to step back, slow down, and appreciate the simple things. When it’s the exception, simple becomes beautiful.
So next time you pick up the humble clothes peg, do with it what you like, just don’t take it for granted.