New Artisans - can it be Elegant?
Day 6 of Alan Moore's 13 Design Questions
I’m glad I had the weekend to ask this question as it grew from seemingly straightforward to rather profound.
My thesaurus describes elegance as “characterised by refined grace”, from elegans, “fine, choice, tasteful”. I find that’s not enough; too mechanical and clinical. There is something ineffable about elegance, something organic and somehow mobile, with an energy all of its own.
Elegance, for me, is the sweep of a Japanese Calligrapher’s brush or the shape of a Spitfire’s wing, the arc of a fly fishing line expertly cast and the way that the stand of Beech trees at the top of the garden bend in the wind.
Elegance in an artefact is the fingerprint of the essence of the artist who created it and signals the relationship between them. Elegance is intimate. Elegance is evoked, not designed. It can be invited but not instructed.
Elegance cannot be scaled, and I think it is inimitable with constructs such as business plans and scale. Head office is where elegance goes to die.
Elegance has something of the Fairy about it - it can only be named by other fairies, and being named by humans causes it to die.
Writing, painting, sculpture can be elegant, as can a manifesto, something that Yanis Varoufakis describes as:
“…speaking to our heart like a poem…infecting the mind with images and ideas that are dazzlingly new…opening our eyes to the bewildering, disturbing, exciting changes, pregnant with possibility happening around us and making us feel hopelessly inadequate for not having recognised these truths ourselves, and making us recognise ourselves as petty accomplices in maintaining the status quo…”
Perhaps the most important insight has been that I recognise the seeds of all these qualities, waiting to grow and blossom in those I see as New Artisans, whatever their craft. They just need care and attention.
So, yes, I believe New Artisans can be elegant, provided we make room for it and welcome it in.
I’d like New Artisans to be an elegant space, one where we can go for a while to escape the noise, spend time with those we trust, and allow the elegance of our individual ideas and enterprises to be revealed.