A Work of Great Beauty: Mohawk Maker Quarterly #10
John Keats said “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” but so often beauty gets a bad rap, notes Thomas D. O’Connor, Jr., in the editor’s letter of the glorious Mohawk Maker Quarterly #10. “To call something ‘beautiful’ is to suggest it is pretty on the outside, but otherwise unsubstantial, hollow.”
Yet, he continues, “beauty stems not just from outward appearance, but from the substance or story that lies beneath. Let’s consider beauty on a deeper level — and harness the connection between meaning and beauty to create transformative work.”So in this issue, in which the Mohawk Maker Quarterly enters double digits, beauty is examined without trying to justify it, focusing instead on the emotional, nearly primeval response it can provoke. Not only is this idea deconstructed, so is the magazine itself.The cover of issue #10 is actually a tri-fold pocket folder, die-cut along the top, printed with holographic foil on Strathmore Wove Charcoal Gray. The pattern, inspired by airport carpets, plays on the beguiling idea that beauty can be found in the unlikeliest of places. It unfolds to reveal the five “chapters” of the publication, each an eight-panel “mega-brochure” that unfolds to reveal a spectacular 24″ x 36″ poster.The first chapter is The Call of the Wild, written by Emily Gosling, a study of how some brands not only integrate nature into their storytelling, but help inspire their audiences to love and preserve it. Printed on Mohawk Options Vellum, Crystal White, 70 text.
I love the idea of beauty appearing in surprising places, and Beauty Today, Gone Tomorrow, written by Owen Hopkins, introduced me to one such architectural movement: Brutalism. After years of being reviled, this controversial concrete style is once again fashionable. The rough texture of Strathmore Grandee, Ultimate White, 80 text, brings the medium to gritty life. The next section, Anti, an Essay Collection examines design rebels on Mohawk Via Smooth, Light Green, 70 text. The Shock of the New, the Yawn of the Old, written by John Dugan, pays homage to those innovators who redefine what beauty is across time and space, from Marcel DuChamp to John Galliano — and how they find their inspiration. Another essay, Good Food for All, written by Bryn Mooth, looks at the practice of top chefs opening quick-and-casual restaurants. The Burden of Beauty, written by Dora Drimalas takes a look at the nonlinear creative path behind the creation of beauty.
Reading Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Richard Dick Hebdige in college was, for me, a vital understanding of how trends and movements appear and grow, as well as reflect the underpinnings of those that shape them. It looked at the origins of punk, and this section unfolds to start where the book left off, looking at how punk has reinvented itself and evolved to stay potent and relevant.The next section contains Searching for Serendipity, written by Patrick Sisson. As design thinking turns creativity into just another word for corporate innovation, it’s important to remember the true value of chasing beauty for beauty’s sake. Putting that idea into practice is The Tiles That Bind, written by Jordin Kushins.For the past three decades, Fireclay Tile has pushed the potential of the durable clay, but also molded itself into another model of beauty: the best practices on how to not just be professionally successful, but maintain a steadfast commitment to the well-being of its employees. Printed on Mohawk Loop Smooth, Restful Blue, 70 text.
Finally, The Movement: Elevate the Everyday rounds out the issue. I loveSuit Yourself, written by Jessie Kuhn. Itprofile the Sapeurs of the Congo, suave gentlemen who elevate the everyday when they step out onto the streets in their sartorial best. These fabulous makers are also featured: Eric Cahan, Photographer, Brooklyn, New York; Sightglass Coffee, Coffee Roasters/Shop, San Francisco, California; Ode to Things, Product Designers/Shop, New Hampshire; Agostino Iacurci, Fine artist, Rome, Italy; Klaus Kemp, Scientist/Algae Compositions, Somerset, England; and Gravel and Gold, Retail/Curation, San Francisco, CA. Printed on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell, Soft White 70 text.