Subscribe Menu

An Ode to the “Thought Object”

Look around in an average home and you'll find certain possessions that complete tasks but aren't created to be aesthetically pleasing: a power strip, a clothes iron, a toothbrush. More abundant are items that have a function but have been articulated by a designer or craftsperson. For instance, a Persian rug, a floral apron, or an elegant brass lamp.

However, one design element that has had its merit consistently questioned is the object that serves no purpose except to please the senses or trigger a memory. Paintings and trophies are two such items.

Very often, from an interior design perspective, if an object doesn't have a practical purpose, it's deemed lesser or frivolous. Home and design shows emphasize enormous collections of figurines, toys, sneakers, and such as a demonstration of poor taste. The notion is seeped into language: for instance, the borrowed French term “bric-à-brac”, defined by Larousse as a “Heap of heterogeneous objects, disparate old things, in poor condition.”

In Estonian, you might have heard antique stores' wares dismissively referred to as tingel-tangel, or kribu-krabu.

In the pursuit of the “clean and modern” ...

Become a subscriber to continue reading!

Every week we bring you news from the community and exclusive columns. We're relying on your support to keep going and invite you to subscribe.

Try the first 8 weeks for $1.

Go to Subscription Plans

Read more