Several years ago I sold my rather large collection of red transferware, and cleansed the house of most of the odd bits of toile: it was pretty clear that my husband hated these romantic patterns–particularly in red. I think most men share his opinion. I miss the dishes more than the textiles, and have been looking for ways to sneak a few transfer pieces back into our home. Two versions of modern transferware on the market right now might be just creative enough to overcome their toileness:
The first set of dishes–the result of a rather stealth collaboration between Target and the modernist manufacturers Blu Dot–are so subtle I think they could make it into my cupboards unnoticed. Both of these collections are charming, I think, because they are flawed by design, achieving difference (and whimsy) through apparent “defects”. It occurred to me that only in our modern industrial age could you possibly have such a design concept as deliberately imperfect: the standards of pre-industrial craftsmanship would simply not allow it. Then I thought (and read) about the traditional Japanese philosophy and aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which embraces the incomplete and imperfect as a way to grasp simple beauty and transience: yet another cultural distinction between east and west. In the first half of the twentieth century, similar values were embraced by artisans of the Arts & Crafts movement, who were trying not only to revive craftsmanship but also differentiate their products from those that were mass-produced. Skip forward a century or so, and differentiation through mass production seems to be the aim of some industrial designers.
While exploring the art of imperfection a bit further, I came across this perfectly-matched (at least to me!) pair of objects of flawed beauty, one the result of the passage of time, the other deliberately modern. Bear in mind that as I am writing this, I am staring at a large crack on my bedroom wall, a flaw that always reappears no matter how many times we reapply plaster. I’m searching for an empty gilt frame–and trying to have an optimistic outlook!