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By design

I stare at the quote above and remind myself that while I strive to live in the present moment, I must learn to ignore the tinnitus, that constant white noise whining in the background. In the quiet moments, when there is time and space to reflect, it  is this white noise that distracts and interferes with stillness, tricking us into believing there is activity when it is self-generated static coming from within our own wiring, a glitch. Fixation on the ringing in our ears or heads can derail any measure of efforts. Like Chinese water torture, it can drive you mad.

The quote comes from a three minute Vimeo clip made about the architectural company, Roman & Williams; Stephen Alesch is a principle in the company. While the quote was likely spoken casually and without much intention, the work of his firm is evidence of  his rebellion.  There is intentional effort to create evocative spaces that mute the static of modern living. Their rooms and buildings are meant to trigger and incubate the senses, to tune out the shrill squealing noise of the external world and invite each of us into ourselves. And it is this process to which I am completely captivated. Stephen Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, performed by the Grand Valley Orchestra is one movement of music capable of creating this space for me. This morning I stumbled upon an new piece of music. The debut recording of Victorie is wonderful. In the photo of the women in the group, they sit drinking tea. There is a plate of blood oranges on the table. It is in exactly that minute detail that I am drawn. The blood orange is a remarkable and surprising thing. You slice into an orange expecting the ordinary. Instead you get the plump, glistening, crimson fibrils.  How truly magical and for what possible reason would there be a need for blood oranges? It is the sheer whimsy of creative design. Somewhere in the flourish of the Master’s brush strokes or His  thumb pressure on the chromosomes’ replications, we end up with blood oranges.

It is the delight of such things; they blot out the shrill noise of the day. They catch my breath and my mind. I appreciate the pragmatic, even utilitarian. I agree with Alton Brown and his philosophy that you do not need a gadget and gizmo for every single task in your kitchen. Just because they make a variety of contraptions, it is often better to work with less. This a great philosophy for living at large and not just the kitchen. But….design trumps utility just by its sheer beauty or whimsy, especially if it is just as functional.

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