Most Loved...
Posted on: 31/03/2014

Today, I’m kicking off a new regular feature, Most Loved... celebrating design objects, places and buildings that have a special place in my heart. There are no specifics as to what might turn up here. It’s a collection of random musings. Things that have caught my eye, from the mundane to the spectacular.

Over the coming months, there will be an eclectic mix of the personal and the professional from my life along with the occasional foray into the meanderings of my creative mind.

For the first post I have chosen one of those life-changing moments when the simplest of events has a life-long consequence and sets you on a path.

My father was, amongst other things, an historian and we would often walk around cities, where, as a child he would get me to look... really look. “Look up. Look around. See where you are.” he would say. And he meant from a visceral level not just from a geographic perspective. Geographically, he would challenge me to guide him from one point in Leeds, our most familiar city to another by identifying buildings from their lesser seen angles. “Be curious too. Where will this street take us? What’s down here?”

Emotionally I think he wanted me to appreciate where I belonged, as an active decision rather than a simple accident. And that’s the thing with looking. It’s the combination of sight and perception. To see something is a simple biological event. To appreciate it, is to be able to place it in context within time and space. To understand your relationship with another person, separated in time and yet equally connected by a common entity.

It was on one of these walks that I was to experience for the first time, the sheer joy of discovering a gem of an item. One of those often overlooked details that, once seen for what they are, lift the mundane to unimaginable heights. The kind of ‘Lotus in the Mud’ sort of thing. Taking the less trodden route and finding that undiscovered building or, on looking up seeing, for the first time, a detail in a familiar building, previously unnoticed. What was it, on that very first occasion?

It was a railing.

But this was no ordinary railing. This is, in my opinion, a fabulous example of art nouveau. Just off city square in Leeds, it forms the entrance to an office block. It’s swirling, delicate, flowing design still takes my breath away, even today. It does that for no other reason than, it is there. It exists. In these pressured times when we are all so busy, it’s mere existence is an oasis of beauty. I do wonder though, how often it is passed without thought or recognition.

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