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Unconsciously satisfying

David Mellor - Pride - flatware

Great design hits you on many lev­els. Design­ers love to talk about clos­ing the door of a BMW. It feels dif­fer­ent. And this feel­ing may not even reg­is­ter in the con­scious mind, but it mat­ters. The feel­ing of solid­i­ty and integri­ty dur­ing that action is unique and last­ing, even though it occu­pies a tiny sliv­er around the expe­ri­ence of dri­ving. You may not con­scious­ly notice it, but your mind reg­is­ters it and you body remem­bers it.I hes­i­tate to admit this in a pub­lic forum, but I don't think I've ever pur­chased a new piece of sil­ver­ware. Our sil­ver­ware draw­er is a hodge­podge of air­line spoons, thrift store forks, garage sale knives, odds and ends of var­i­ous shapes and sizes. But you've got to won­der whether the expe­ri­ence of eat­ing wouldn't be great­ly enhanced — even uncon­scious­ly — by great sil­ver­ware, like the set above by crafts­man David Mel­lor. I saw it yes­ter­day at Heath Ceram­ics in Sausal­i­to, and even a philis­tine like me could tell that it's got some­thing going on. For $160, you can find out for your­self.If you do, lis­ten to your sub­con­scious, and let me know what it says.

music web

Design / The Beatles & collaboration

A lot of col­lab­o­ra­tive work goes on at Coop­er (where I work). Design­ers team up to under­stand a prob­lem, or to envi­sion a bet­ter way of solv­ing it. Some­times, we col­lab­o­rate with clients to fig­ure out what's pos­si­ble and where pos­si­bil­i­ty and desir­abil­i­ty meet. In any case, it's hard to trace back any par­tic­u­lar idea to a par­tic­u­lar per­son or moment; once an idea is out in the world, it gets pushed, pulled, dis­as­sem­bled, reassem­bled, and so on by every­one until it fits. My friends and I used to argue over which Bea­t­le wrote a par­tic­u­lar song — John? Paul? George? In most cas­es, it seems pret­ty clear cut. Cheesy lyrics and a boun­cy rhythm? Paul. More com­pli­cat­ed, lay­ered lyrics with more straight-ahead rock? John. A sitar in the back­ground? George. In some cas­es, how­ev­er, it's much less clear. "With A Lit­tle Help From My Friends," for instance; or, "Got To Get You Into My Life." Both have rec­og­niz­able ear­marks of John and Paul.Are these easy cat­e­go­riza­tions valid in any way? Is there any way of ulti­mate­ly know­ing who wrote what? I didn't think so. Until I Googled "bea­t­les song­writ­ing" and found The Bea­t­les Song­writ­ing and Record­ing Data­base, an obses­sive­ly cat­e­go­rized col­lec­tion quotes about who wrote what, pulled from var­i­ous inter­views con­duct­ed over the last 40 years.For example:

With A Lit­tle Help From My FriendsJOHN 1970: "Paul had the line about 'a lit­tle help from my friends.' He had some kind of struc­ture for it, and we wrote it pret­ty well fifty-fifty from his orig­i­nal idea."JOHN 1980: "That's Paul, with a lit­tle help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine' is mine."PAUL cir­ca-1994: "This was writ­ten out at John's house in Wey­bridge for Ringo… I think that was prob­a­bly the best of our songs that we wrote for Ringo actu­al­ly. I remem­ber gig­gling with John as we wrote the lines, 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine.' It could have been him play­ing with his willie under the cov­ers, or it could have been tak­en on a deep­er lev­el. This is what it meant but it was a nice way to say it– a very non-spe­cif­ic way to say it. I always liked that." 

Espe­cial­ly intrigu­ing: John wrote "And Your Bird Can Sing," which (to me) seems to be the most obvi­ous Paul song ever. Per­haps those ear­marks I dis­cussed ear­li­er are less applic­a­ble than one would expect.