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Comments (13) Posted 12.13.07 | PERMALINK | PRINT

William Drenttel

Taking Things Seriously I




An artichoke sat on our kitchen windowsill for months, some years ago. At first, it was ugly and disgusting and kinda gooey — and guests would say "ick." Then it slowly dried out, changed color, became something else altogether. I've now had it for ten years.

I think it's rather beautiful. I keep trying to use it in a design project, say on the cover of a book. I have photographed it numerous times and created design prototypes featuring this artichoke. They never sell: others do not seem to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of this thing.

Over time it has become more fragile, and I worry that it will break. So it sits, carefully placed, in my bookcase next to some Roman pottery a couple of thousand years older. No one ever touches the older, more fragile pottery, of course. But many pick up my artichoke.

This short essay is excerpted from Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance, a book by Joshua Glenn and Carol Hayes in which they and other writers discuss the importance of objects in their lives. This is the first essay in a series to appear on Design Observer.


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Comments (13)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT COMMENT >>

Oh wow that's pretty nifty. :)
Jenny
12.13.07 at 12:20

Okee-Dokee Artichokee!!!! Ha! Couldn't resist.

VR/
Joe Moran
12.13.07 at 01:06

Beautiful artichoke. It´s sad to think that only few people are visually attached to things, that became beautiful through such hard process, if you take a look at it, it's visual poetry, for sure.
Renato Campana
12.13.07 at 05:52

Hmm, I wonder if there isn't some spray-on sealant that would help to stabilize it. I must admit it is rather attractive, although, as mentioned, I guess there was an "ugly duckling" stage that was not so pleasant.
donebylee
12.13.07 at 06:21

Gawd, all this site does is pimp books anymore.
bob
12.13.07 at 07:27

So, why isn't this on the cover of the book?

I guess then the essay wouldn't make any sense, and so it'd have to be left out, and then people would say "why's there a rotten artichoke on the cover of this book?"
Brian
12.13.07 at 07:48

So why dont you start drying out another? or even a few at once? Maybe even drying them in different ways to get different results.
Tyler B.
12.13.07 at 08:31

wow.
seriously, people kinda take the little things for granted.
-overshadowed by the commercially beautiful things, usually manmade.
juli ah
12.13.07 at 10:22

Nature born with sense of beauty

I do collect dried seeds, leaves, flowers and branches, use them in my design. No matter what form they r, they always tell me their own visual story of their life. I love them much cos they are such naturally wonderful and inspired!
yeoh gh
12.14.07 at 01:26

Fantastic!
John
12.15.07 at 09:28

The dried artichoke has given you pleasure.. as you rejoyce in seeing its growing beauty.
What could be rather fullfilling... even though others don't have the eye to appreciate such natural art, its a spiritual connection not everyone is able to develope.
Mudita
12.15.07 at 10:09

I have so many "potential" projects just laying around my office. bits of paper. sample kits. little tin boxes. my design obsession makes my wife crazy sometimes. i think if i branched into organic elements, i would be crossing the line though, so i'm going to have to stay away from the dried vegetables.
mattienodj
12.17.07 at 10:20

I once received a fortune cookie that I keep with me:

You find beauty in ordinary things. Do not lose this ability.
Nicklaus Deyring
01.10.08 at 04:43


Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William Drenttel is a designer and publisher, and editorial director of Design Observer. He is a partner at Winterhouse, a design consultancy focused on social change, online media and educational institutions, and a senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management.
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DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY William Drenttel

Looking Closer 5
Allworth Press, 2006

Looking Closer 4
Allworth Press, 2002

Looking Closer 2
Allworth Press, 1997

Looking Closer 1
Allworth Press, 1994

More books by contributors >>

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