Futuristic Remnants of the Past

There’s something very special about the Anthropologie catalog… always. Rebecca Purcell is a free lance home stylist/art director for the catalog and after getting a glimpse of her studio through Where Women Create Magazine I can easily see her influence on the design. Purcell is also responsible for the retail display for A.B.C. Home throughout the 90’s. Given those two positions, you can probably get a strong feeling for her design sensibilities. She is an avid collector of all objects that are authentic, nostalgic and sometimes dusty and broken. These qualities are reflected in her work with layers of texture, whimsy, craft and subtle mysticism. Purcell defines Modernostalgia as a combination of design styles, giving respect to the life an object has lived and reinventing it by bestowing upon it a fresh purpose.

The following is an excerpt from her latest book, Modernostalgia:
‘As a reaction to our increasingly technological world some of us really need a few old, battered bits around. Nostalgia is only a bad thing when it replaces an interest in what is new, with a misguided desire for an over idealized past that never existed. Second, the “weathered look” so associated with a modern nostalgic aesthetic, is part of reality. Weather happens. During the process of participating in life, every object becomes worn in some respect either from handling or environmental conditions. So an older table, darkened by wax, oils and spills, marked with scuffs and dings, referred to by some as having a nostalgic, even sentimental “look”, is simply a table that has participated in life…

Yes, I know that there are far more serious concerns than styles of décor, fashion (or sports!) etc. but there is nothing more important than trying to live in a way that is fulfilling, that cultivates a genuine feeling of generosity and caring. Humans have a deep, and I believe instinctual, urge to not only survive but thrive, and it is abundantly clear that this requires that we allow ourselves to enjoy those things that bring us pleasure and make us feel fulfilled whatever form they take. Simply put: the things that fascinate and interest us are part of why we want to live… For many, a faded velvet box is not just a pretty bit of decor, it is a reminder that what makes something truly beautiful is the life it lived, the richness of its expression, and the evidence of being touched by hands.’ ~Rebecca Purcell (link to her site here, but be forewarned it will dramatically decrease the size of your browser)

This touches upon the subject of our increasingly technological society and it’s effect on our lives, which I’d like to talk about separately. But first, THE FOBOTS! I haven’t had much of an interest in robots in the past, but in the past couple days I’ve come across some genius robotic sculptures. The images below are from the latest Anthropologie catalog…

[side note: found the Fobots here! www.ifobot.com]
There isn’t a ton of information on the Fobots in the catalog, so I have to assume that they are created from an amalgam of parts from old and new sources. Looks like a few flea market finds combined with old and new trinkets, nuts and bolts. If it weren’t for the price tag – $248 – $428 each – I would scoop up every single one. What happened to the whole ‘modernostalgia’ movement for people who can’t splurge on exclusive modern design? I love the idea of representing ‘the future’ through lots of little objects from the past. Robots have been a symbol of all things futuristic for 60 or so years now, which actually makes them pretty retro. Regardless, I think it’s fun to recycle old materials that have had their own long lives, adding layers of history to new art. All this robot talk makes me think of the amazing 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which robotic visitors from outerspace land on Earth and wreak havoc on unsuspecting citizens in their perfect Norman Rockwell setting. View the original trailer on YouTube here.

Along the same art-from-found-objects theme, Ann P. Smith creates beautiful robot sculpture from broken electronics and machine parts. Check out the sweet animated horse on her site and robot postcards on Etsy.

Published by Elizabeth Pizzuti

Design, art, and cats mostly

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