Aging Gloss

This post is made separately by Sjoerd because he had been working together with a different group than the others who run this (quite brilliant) blog. Here he briefly describes the process that the group went through and this post concludes with a reflection on the final object made by the Industrial Design students from Eindhoven.

After we explored the ideas of affect, firstness, secondness and thirdness, at the end of Monday’s workshop the group decided on selection of photographs to examine more closely to get to a concept that would be the core idea of the final object.

Through a closer examination of the photos with the notions of affect, notion and concept in mind; the term ‘Aging Gloss’ came up in one of the group’s examination of a photo of an old bicycle seat. The seat was weathered in a way that it looked used, but instead of it looking ugly, it looked more authentic because of the weathering.

This concept of authenticity through age and use was what the Eindhoven students used as a basis for their design of their final object. The object that they made was made out of candle wax cast in the shape of an electric shaving razor. They poured the wax in different layers so you could see different colours stacked on each other in the form of the razor. They made four different ones, all representing a different stage in the ‘life-cycle’ of the object. The first stage was untouched and there were not many layers really visible. In the second one, the top layer began to come off a little bit and the other underlying layers were visible. The top layer wore off in the places where it was held, so you could see where the person put their hand. In the last stage, there were indents in it, were the user had gripped it for a long time. You could really see the different coloured layers and the shape of the razor had changed a lot because of the obvious grips that were created by just using it.

It showed not only that an object that ages because of use looks really beautiful but also that object and user really can have this intense connection with each other and that it can show in the traces of the object. Especially the last notion was really interesting to me because it seems almost like a symbol of how consumers want to have a closer relation to their objects and that they now are no longer a passive group of people who just take objects and use them, but use them in different ways and attach their own meanings to (cultural) objects. I think the agency of the consumer and of the audience, which to me seems like a relatively recent development, is manifested really well in this object.

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