ROBERTO FEO, ROSARIO HURTADO &
Look around. The Emperor is naked... and so are you.
Are you really looking? What do you see?
In his classic work L’amour et l’Occident,
Rougemont wrote that every “erotomaniac” is a mystic
who has not yet discovered that he is one. Surely
by now, perhaps because pleasure is one of the few
unquestionable “realities” that we have left, we are
all erotomaniacs. Are we also mystics then? We may
well be. Let’s suppose your omnipotent and uncompromising
government, with the support and the
cheering of the masses, decides to use the taxes
you pay to finance a golf course that will spoil the
landscape of your childhood, or an airport that will
deafen your ears, or an unwanted war. In this event,
because of this latent mysticism, you might decide
to remove yourself from the world and concentrate
on your inner space: a space that (in principle)
seems unique and controllable. Regardless of the
tons of self-help literature consumed, the inner
space of the 21st century western citizens is more
likely to be found within the walls of their own cave
than in some hidden corner of their soul. This is how
it is and this is how, sooner or later, many will end up
being designers: by force.
A retreat into the private sphere is forced, not only
through frustration with social and political situations,
but by reasons that lie at a subconscious level.
We feel hunted. We know that Big Brother is watching
and, just like the main character in Orwell’s 1984, we
retreat to the only corner where we believe his sight
does not penetrate; where we think there may be a
space we can claim as exclusively ours.
Until recently, there were still such places left
in the outside world. It was enough to travel to India
or to a Pacific island, away from the tourist hubs,
or simply to go for a psychotropic walk around a city
park. Nowadays, however, everything is served up
in a brochure, with its prescribed etiquettes and its
set price. There is nowhere to run. All hideaways are
typified, programmed and standardised. They are not,
and never again will be, your “own” escape.
Why design, then?
In a media-saturated/driven world where everything
is show business, pure image, we turn to
objects as the last reminders of our old concept of
“reality”. Objects comfort us. We tend to think that
the objects we choose for our personal environment
define us, make us different from others: maybe even
unique. The fact is that, far from contributing to this
supposed “uniqueness”, what objects really do is
Despite the current status quo, it should be possible,
given an increased awareness, to develop powers
of control over this environment, and even create
a new one for ourselves; an environment that would
go beyond institutionalised patterns of consumption.
In order to achieve this, it is essential to understand
our surroundings as an amalgam of “objects”,
including everything from language to space, from
history to religion, from the learned prejudices of the
tribe to the political correctness of the last revolutionary
trend. In short, we must recognise that our environment
incorporates every aspect of the physical,
symbolic and psychological world.
For effective control you need real understanding.
When you don’t know what you want, you end up
with a lot you don’t.
Then, adding insult to injury, you pay for it.
Naomi Klein. NO LOGO
Denis de Rougemont. L’amour et l’Occident
George Orwell. 1984