Honest Design

November 5th, 2010

Following my interview with Jason Wismar (see 10/15 post), a discussion about ‘honest’ design and architecture arose. I was first introduced to this idea last spring during my time abroad in Copenhagen. There, I learned about the traditions of Danish architects and furniture designers from the Danes themselves. So what does the idea of honesty in design entail and why did so many mid-century Danish designers employ honest techniques?

Honesty means that the structure of the building, chair, etc. is openly displayed in its design. Instead of hiding joinery, it is celebrated and becomes part of the appeal of the end product. Honesty can also pertain to materials. Instead of staining wood to disguise its natural hue or hiding evidence of a secondary structural material, natural conditions and inner structures are revealed. There are no questions of  How does this go together? or I wonder what is behind here. No wondering necessary! Just as people like to know what goes into their food, they like to know what goes into their built environment. Danish designers have established a tradition of employing these techniques, as they ultimately combine to create designs that are full of integrity, with an honest display of craftsmanship and materials.

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