Coming soon: The Pathos of Things
This is a newsletter about design, though from a slightly different angle. I focus on the spaces and objects among which we live, asking why they were created and what they reveal about the modern world.
Why do some big fashion brands prefer designing algorithms to clothes? Why has lifestyle become so central to culture? What can we learn about China from its high-speed trains? What does Napoleon’s furniture tell us about the nature of power today? These are the kinds of questions I’ll be answering here.
“The pathos of things” is a Japanese idea referring to the beauty of the impermanent. I believe that the superficial and ephemeral aspects of modern life have, if not beauty, then at least a deeper significance.
Pathos is also a technique of persuasion, involving an appeal to the emotions. This is how designed objects try to influence us, presenting themselves as desirable, useful or inspiring. My aim is to understand this subtle magic, but also to show the motives and intentions behind it.