The primitive hut, as depicted in Abbe Laugier’s Essai sur ‘architecture, c. 1755. As described by Laugier, BALI HOME PLANS humans recreated the accidental comforts of found covered space as the motives behind the first building. Though fanciful, these motives are not far from the true impetus that led humans to create inside space of all the design disciplines. If, as in Fletcher’s famous formulation, architecture is the “mother of all arts, then the interior is surely the father of all design.
Reclaiming the Past
We cannot label the first humans, in the act of design, as being unaware of their motives. This all-too-common outlook has been deemed a logical fallacy by advocates of so-called folk or vernacular design. Thomas Hubka, who has argued folk architecture’s significance as the underpinning for design practice, writes that the popularity of “primitive design in the 1960s (the decade that produced Bernard Rudofsky’s famous Architecture without Architects) failed to attribute design motives to nonprofessional designers, delimiting “the real accomplishments of vernacular builders by ascribing to their designs and buildings misconceptions about their purpose and method, such as the exaggerated notion of intuitive (divine?) methodologies amounting to mystical causation.26
The origin of design that is proposed here draws upon both myth and fact, but does not claim to evoke some mystical era, when design operated under a different, unconscious logic. Rather, it asserts that the primal drive for security and comfort led people to consciously create the means to better the conditions of their existence. Design was born as an act of common sense, then grew into a skilled craft and ultimately became a specialized profession. But design, the term that applies to all of these examples, is simply a process that describes how the human mind identifies and solves problems in a way that satisfies us functionally, psychologically, and aesthetically. Design has been there, it was just that no one spoke its name. Born well before its emergence as a professional practice during the past two centuries, design is, and will always be, intrinsic to human nature.
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