Monday, August 10, 2009

On overdesigning.

Just back from the land of movies and Michael Jackson (so the news goes these days)- namely the eclectic State of California. Growing up in the Midwest, where the weather determines the ability to show skin, I was accustomed to seeing slightly attractive people only during the summer where one could rightly expose bodies without fear of losing a limb to frostbite or the occasional abominable snowman.

With sunshine year round seemingly from God himself (or maybe the devil since it’s so f-ing hot there), California in contrast, was literally brimming with hot bodies and perfect faces of every racial background. It was an Elysium of flawlessness. Perhaps that’s why California is one of the top, if not the top state in the nation for surgeries that turn normal faces into perfectly plastic imitations of humanity. It’s this quest for perfection, a sense of overdesigning something already appealing, that often ends in plain ugly, not only in personal appearance but also architecture.

California’s two main cities San Francisco and L.A. seems to be rife with a mix of architectural styles that run the gamut from Mission, to Victorian, to Modern, to Contemporary, to Classical, all mashed together into one continually renovated whole. You’d think that for a state that’s so concerned about looks, architecture would mirror the Botoxed faces of so many celebrities and at least put up a good front on something old and rotten. Alas, no. Take this example:

Two perfectly handsome houses on the left and right, but what’s that in the middle? Why, it’s an ugly renovation that has no right being there because it’s so hideous that if it were a person I’d do everyone a favor and punch it in the face. Seriously, what were the designers thinking? Clearly, like ill advised plastic surgery, this was an attempt to modernize a perfectly good Victorian home. It looks as though in the midst of this historic block, the designers wanted to piss off every single neighbor and do some sort of homage to a Florida beach house in the MIDDLE OF SAN FRANCISCO. What in context hell?

Future architects and designers, this critic begs you to at least consider the building’s surroundings. At least try to create/renovate something so that it looks like it belongs in the neighborhood and something that looks like it was naturally supposed to be there. Not enough forethought while shooting for a skewed sense of perfection without understanding the surround area will end in visual disaster. Just think of Michael Jackson, the quintessential Californian, as the perfect lesson on how overdesigning turns into ugly.

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