A Hidden History Of Comfort?

Let it be known: if you missed the Bouroullec lecture tonight you probably missed one of the best lectures that the GSD has seen in years. Their work synthesizes the "logic of nature," an innate understanding of digital manufacturing, and unabashed cheekiness into objects of extreme aesthetic refinement. Not only is the work amazing but, in the tradition of the Eames, the documentation of the work is equally gorgeous (and telling).

According to Erwan, we are taught in a general sense how to appreciate things from an aesthetic point of view but rarely in terms of experience. There is, as he put it, a "hidden history of comfort" which is the accumulated knowledge of what feels good to the body. It occurs to me that there is a similar and equally perplexing hidden history of comfort that defines the most basic aesthetics of a culture like America. Although some countries have a clearly defined self image ranging from the scale of the abstract symbol to the specifics of architecture, America has only the abstract. There are things like the skyline of NYC, the suburban enclave, perhaps even the rowhouses of San Francisco which are somehow American, but they are not America. The comfort-aesthetic of America is a collection of stars and stripes and soaring eagles. Little else holds true as you test it against the far reaches of the country.

Can the term "comfort-aesthetic" replace "populism?" Like a crystal shattered into a hundred 67 pieces, there can be no populism in the age of We The Peoples. If populist desires tend to lean heavily on literalism, perhaps an aesthetics of comfort could be released from the need to be truly literal and instead must be simply comfortable (but not necessarily plush!)

note: I'm going to try not to write like this anymore. It's not productive for me.