25 November 2015
Those who know Jasper Morrison are aware that he weighs his words and takes a pragmatic and functionalist approach to his work. So they can imagine what to expect from his latest publication, A Book of Things—an ideal follow-up to Everything but the Walls (2002), also brought out by Lars Müller Publishers—which was presented in advance at the Flos showroom during the last Salone del Mobile in Milan and virtually completed by the exhibition Thingness at Le Grand-Hornu complex in Belgium (which ended last September). Every detail of this elegant but simple clothbound volume tells us something about the British designer: from the format to the drawing of the drinking glass on the cover (it’s the first product he talks about, a symbol of the way he designs) and from the decision to give a lot of space to the images and leave the task of telling the story of the objects to short texts he has written himself to the choice not to have an introductory essay by a critic interpreting his work (but to include instead a long interview granted to Marco Romanelli for Inventario 08, first published in Domus in 1987). Morrison supervises the realization of his projects right to the end, and in every detail. His books are no exception, and neither are his exhibitions: he personally designed the display of the one in Belgium (which will be moving to the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich next February), for which he also wrote the descriptive texts and the essays on design. A Book of Things has many sides: it is a catalogue raisonné, a selection of histories of objects, the account of a creative process and a collection of autobiographical anecdotes. The recurrent keywords are: archetype, comfort, functional, efficient, unpretentious, inexpensive. In its 300 pages Morrison offers a generous explanation of the way he designs, lives and thinks. And reveals without hesitation his sources of inspiration, because the secret of a good design does not lie in the form but in the approach, i.e. in the capacity to put aesthetics at the service of an idea. It is no coincidence that the title of one of Jasper Morrison’s earliest writings was “The Unimportance of Form” (1991).