Design as Social Comment (or) Fractured Fairy Tales

I love this chair by Scott Jarvie.

Paddle Chair, Scott Jarvie

Still, with the notable exception of “one cut” I just don’t freakin’ get the remainder of his work, especially in light of his “clutch chair” which makes a “comment on our disposable culture.” (see excerpt below)



Made from 10,000 drinking straws, the Clutch Chair is an exploratory research piece that passes comment on our disposable culture. The development process of this piece also informed that of the Clutch Light, both of which were developed from an observation of the structural characteristics of trees.
This piece was selected by Zaha Hadid as her Curators Choice at Noise Festeval 2008

Huh? Really? Jarvie wants to comment upon our disposable culture? Can’t you just say it looks cool? Why do you have to bring a cultural criticism into it that is not reflected in the rest of your work? If you are serious about the comment:

1. We “get” sustainability.Your audience has understood the concept since we were in kindergarden. As children of the industrialized western world born after 1970 it has been omnipresent.

2. We get psuedo-sustainability. Your audience doesn’t require a comment made of plastic drinking straws. What we require is an eco-alternate widely available with which we can hydrate our Mississippy cup quaffing young ‘uns. (Pasta straws, anyone?)

3. We are neither ignorant nor are we idiots. Make alternatives to destructive consumption accessible to  the working classes and we will lap them up. The right thing appeals! We are constrained but our (resonable) alternatives, just like everybody else!

And, for the gallery, I’m not a Nantucket-summer diva, just an independent snot. Solutions to our eco-crisis should be distributed along the same channels as the rest of our products, cultural values and ideas. This is not a matter of us-v-them, it is a matter of accessibility. If you are not willing to provide solutions to the problems of mass consumption, why are you commenting? Who are you, Noam Chompsky? We get it already.

Did I mention that I love this chair?

Paddle Chair, Scott Jarvie


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Posted in Amusement, Course Related, Design Theory, Editorial, Visual Concepts