Unostentatious objects

A new digital story featuring everyday objects and the ASPESI Fall-Winter collection – the entire range on Instagram channel @aspesiofficial

 Unostentatious Objects are those we share our space with every day, so taken for granted we hardly notice them at all, they were chosen because they are pleasing, efficient and familiar.  

They’re not bestsellers or iconic products; they’re not even the best currently on the market, or chosen exclusively for their aesthetics or function, but are a perfect balance of both qualities. They are the tools of our daily rituals, with a positive impact on our mood and our life.   

Our relationship with Unostentatious Objects is one that goes beyond their mere usefulness and which lasts over time, during which it changes and alters our habits just as we interpret and invest their function with new meanings.   

This is why you will never find one of the Unostentatious Objects on television or in a sponsored advert – why replace the chair that has moulded exactly to the shape of your bottom, or the spoon that fits so comfortably in your mouth?

Unostentatious Objects are made to last, even to be damaged and then repaired, because they don’t disdain patches and mends, on the contrary, they are enhanced by the passage of time and the use we make of them.   They are, to quote Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa, “Super Normal” objects and “serve to remind us that perhaps cultivating a good, long-lasting relationship is preferable to something new”.

In the digital era, the world becomes information, the object becomes an interface and Unostentatious Objects are the physical interfaces in our daily life. If the digitalization of life is concentrating different functions in ever-smaller, almost invisible objects, Unostentatious Objects are also “resistant objects” which oppose the degenerative aspect of this transformation. Because exactly like our “digital prosthetics”, they are in effect artificial structures that replace, complete or enhance a certain bodily action.

Unostentatious Objects are not conceived to be showy, and even if they are the work of well-known designers, they are at ease among their colleagues, without any kind of complex, adapting well to any situation. How many people are aware that they have a washbasin designed by Gio Ponti, an electricity meter by De Lucchi, a salt shaker by Ettore Sottsass or a stool designed by Alvar Aalto at home? Good design is all around us, and if we no longer notice it, that is because by now it is part of our DNA, and by extension, of the spaces we give shape to, also by way of the choices that define our personality.

The beauty of Unostentatious Objects is not refined, but the natural consequence of a “right” process, where the most logical form is never subordinate to aesthetic qualities, but rather creates them.  

Unostentatious Objects are those to which Bruno Munari would have assigned his “Golden Compass to Unknowns” award, unsigned objects which relegate their designers to the shadows. They are the archetypes of good design, those conceived to stand the test of time.

It is a matter of reversing a paradigm, of changing a point of view, or rather, as maestro of Italian design and ambassador of this trend, Vico Magistretti, would say, of “looking at mundane things with uncustomary eyes”.

"Simplify, simplify!” wrote Thoreau in his notebook, from his seclusion in Walden Woods.

And this is the ethical imperative of Unostentatious Objects – to pursue simplicity, which is not a radical rejection of ornamentation, or a statement of the aesthetics of absence of embellishment.   Simplicity of form is not necessarily the same as simplicity of experience.

In short, good design is unobtrusive, honest and long lasting. In the words of Dieter Rams “Good design is as little design as possible”. Considered the “conscious of Italian design”, Enzo Mari designed simple objects which pleased everyone, including those who made them, and which never went out of fashion.   

The objects that surround us – the Unostentatious Objects – are both teachers and subjects of our study, and they reveal the complex nature of the world to us.

Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture & Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), often invokes the need for education about design: “Design is a force to be reckoned with. Citizens that know how to make good use of design, that have knowledge of it, are going to be able to use that power, also to explain how things should be to politicians, to industrialists, and to all the other sectors”.

Objects represent us, and design increasingly embodies the form of an invisible, widespread “global” project, which conditions our behaviour, shapes our awareness and defines the spaces and times of our existence and our relationships.

The objects that surround us tell of who we are, and define our relationship with “the world that designs us” day by day.

Unostentatious Objects are the protagonists of the Instagram channel @aspesiofficial.