Excerpt from Gilded Birds:
Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology and the Humanities, on his Arabia soup tureen
GB: Tell me why you chose this.
RS: It gives us a sense of the evolution of a simple craft in Denmark into something that’s more complicated in Finnish design, influenced by the architecture of people like Alvar Aalto. What it is, is the notion that if you take a very simple form, you can find out where the irregularities of that simple form can be expressed in a way which still keep it with a sense of coherence. Alto never worked with rounded forms but that was his idea. So here, what they did was they took the round form, they re-inscribed it as a design and looked for ways to do what Alto did with straight plains to these curved plains. This is not “less is more.” It’s a different way of thinking about economy, about what it’s possible to vary within a coherent whole. So that’s what Arabia was doing for seven or eight years. They were experimenting with how pottery, in both its glazing and its forms, expressed something that the architecture of the time was also doing. It was a break with standardized Modernism. If this pot had been made by the Bauhaus, there would be no handle. You wouldn’t have these wonderful marks in the base. It would be dull. This is my idea of craft.