Objects are disappearing. Just as in the nineties non-places ousted places, according to Marc Augé’s perceptive insight, so today non-things, notes the philosopher Byung-chul Han, are supplanting things. The objects we see, act on and manipulate are increasingly virtual apparitions, random clouds of data that aggregate solely for the time needed to embody an image or NFT, and then disappear as soon as something else appears on the screen. This certainly has its own charm, and also allows an unprecedented customization of the user experience. But the increasing evanescence of things is undermining our confidence in reality. The human brain has in fact evolved to “understand” the world through a sensory reading of it, which encounters its “hardest” line of resistance in the solidity of physical perception. Failing this, the proven “resonance” between cognitive functions and the sensory stimuli that act on them is lost, with a consequent increase in cognitive dissonance and therefore psychological instability, which translates into subtle and widespread states of anxiety.
A structural nakedness
In such a context, the effort to identify points of balance to be placed in the everyday landscape takes on an almost therapeutic role, providing a cognitive anchoring function that “holds the line” in the midst of the flows of incorporeal appearances that fluctuate nervously where things once stayed firm. Hence the value for today’s world of a project like Guglielmo Poletti’s To-Tie lamp for Flos, as simple and necessary as the point of equilibrium defined by the laws of physics, whose formal cleanliness, Poletti specifies, “is not simple nudity but structural nudity”, in the sense that the composition derives not from an expressive arbitrariness but from a long process of distillation, begun years earlier with the Equilibrium coffee table, though, continues Poletti, this has only a partial resemblance to To-Tie. “If it is true that there are different ways of putting together a cable and a cylinder, [in the case of the lamp] the light has removed that arbitrariness that was still in the table, since the cable, as well as being structure, has the function of conveying electricity, and the bar, apart from being a joint, is also a handle. There is not a single element out of place, a single component that could have been devised differently.” In this lies the maturity of this latest project compared to his previous youthful work, in this sort of overdetermination of the elements that reinforces, and therefore stabilizes, the structural necessity of the object.
An intimate structural necessity
Almost as if there were no human intention in it (though in fact there is). The philosophy of mathematics has long debated the nature of numbers and other mathematical concepts, whether they are an artificial man-made language (some mathematical concepts seem to be) or a logical structure underlying reality that mathematicians merely discover (other concepts seem to resist any attempt at further reduction). A similar dichotomy can also be found for the object forms modeled on their intimate structural necessity, an approach that from Castiglioni to Mari has always inhabited (but not exhausted) the culture of design.
The truth of the object
Seeking to identify the fundamental topological relationship between simple elements that cannot be further decomposed, such as cable, bar and cylinder, means going in quest of the truth of the object, indicating a possible answer to the question of whether an expressive form that conveys human feelings is truer or a composition defined by deep respect, all the way to the self-denial of the subject, of the will devoid of volition of the object.