Going for baroque

The essence of baroque art and craft is its complexity. Difficult to create, overloaded with ornamentation, filled with grandeur and color and surprise, the focus is on the effort expended.

And that dramatic display of effort has a place. It communicates a sort of emotional labor, and creates an imbalance of status. You don’t expect a scoop of rice and some dal at a very fancy restaurant, no matter how delicious it is. You paid for the effort, not just the sustenance.

Baroque is often at odds with utility. I don’t want a hammer with a baroque design, I want one that does precisely what I need it to when it comes to driving a nail. On the other hand, much of what we buy and use isn’t about utility at all… it’s an expression of the story we tell ourselves about value, status and our place in the world.

If you’re going to offer something baroque, the key is to go all out. Halfway is worth very little.