This is a chair that I bought at IKEA. It is made up of a bent beechwood frame and has a clean birch veneer finish with a blazing red cushion cover.
I love reading. I love lounging. My favourite pastime is to be curled up in a very comfortable chair reading the books I love, talking to my husband Sameer who is lounging in another chair nearby. It is a warm winter day. My feet are being warmed by the winter sun and I am snuggled in a cosy shawl or throw. There is also an unlimited supply of Cafe Vanilla Frappucino. And some very good oranges to eat when I am reading.
I have spent most of my afternoons on this chair, reading. I keep the chair in front of the French windows in the apartment. To me the chair has been a place where I have got the inspiration for some of my prints. I have sat there in the chair sketching, working on laptop. I have fallen asleep in the chair, snuggled in the folds of a my favourite red colored throw, with my feet warming in the winter sun.
I have , grudgingly, let my husband sit in that chair. He too enjoys the way he sits nestled in the chair. The gently sloping curve of the chair hugs his back and he is instantly relaxed after a hard day’s work.
Anyone who comes to visit us eyes that chair greedily. They sit in (please note that I am saying in and not on the chair) it on a strictly ‘first come first served’ basis unless I am already in the chair. And even if I do get up to make coffee for all , I come back to find the chair filled with the occupant grinning back at me.
Now that we are moving from Dallas, I have to part with the chair. The sentimentalist in me does not want to give up the chair, even if it has agreed to part with the rest of the furniture. My heart wants to ship it back home with me. But the pragmatist in me knows that it will cost more than double the price my husband paid for it when he bought it for $139. Who do I listen to?
This is not the first time I have been attached so much to inanimate things, objects. I have stubs from a bus ride that Sameer and I took. I have the greeting cards that I have received from friends and family for every birthday, graduation or anniversary. I still have the clothes that I cannot fit into anymore. There is still a hope that I will slim down to my schoolgirl figure and that T-shirt would fit me. I have a box full of keepsakes. There is a blue and yellow colored vase that I have taken with me everywhere that I have gone. I have the Chinese ink pens that were a prized possession during my school days.
And I have since then found out that it is not just me who is attached to objects. In their own ways, for their own reasons people are linked to objects.
Why is it that we become so much attached to objects?
Do we become attached to the objects due to their functionality or the experiences we have had while using those products?
‘Form follows function’ , said Louis Sullivan. This in lay terms means that shape of a building or object should be ascertained on its intended goal. Linking the form and the function seems like a good idea but it provides an incomplete solution. The design of an object is bound by certain constraints not just quantitative but also qualitative. Social expectations plays a very big role in the acceptance of a design. By social acceptance I mean whether the object designed is really necessary, can be really used by the intended user, does it violate any customs or religious traditions, etc.
Apart from the form an function of the object what matters to the user (as indicated in the sentence above) is the emotional and symbolic value of the object. The functionality of the product targets to satisfy the ‘operative’ needs of the user. But the ‘meaning of the object’ targets the socio – cultural aspects. It might lead to a new system of values or a new personality or a new identity. Or it goes beyond style. Emergence of words such as ‘Googling’, or Apple designing products for an iLife, selling or auctioning used merchandise on eBay, having Bose speakers, home theaters, or something as simple as me not letting go of the chair.
Design is ‘making sense of things’. Design is central to the human experience. We ‘make sense of things’. ‘Sense’ being the operative word here. We sense, we feel, we emote.
More to follow.