Contributor: Dave Irwin

Creative Discipline: Architecture

Location: Brooklyn, New York


Why I Make Sentient Objects

The world is full of things that are down right unnecessary, perhaps burdening our very existence. I for one am someone who enjoys making. One might ask, Why do we need more Stuff? Well, I completely agree-

The world is filled with tons of things, many rendered useless soon after their creation. In fact, this is even more true today than ever before. Growing advances in manufacturing techniques have driven the shear amount of production to an unprecedented level. The social, ethical and economic growth or depletion are in one way or another effected by the production of  Stuff .

What exactly is this Stuff ? They are the things we use each and everyday, from when you wake up in the morning until you go to bed. The average person is surrounded by, naturally, their own Stuff every minute of the day. I argue that there exists things you use every day that you would never associate with a category entitled Stuff . These are the objects we can call Sentient Objects; the objects that we use that are responsive to our emotions and in fact even have their own. For me it is my desk lamp, at over 50 years old it has an amazing way of showing its age. After being re-wired and given a fresh coat of cherry red Rust-O-leum, it has given me more than I could have ever asked. The fact that it’s old balast causes the flourescent bulbs to flicker from time to time only adds to its charm. It get’s better with age. I wonder, is there a way we can make an object today that gets better by tomorrow? Or is it only after decades that we can truly tell which objects still wish to stick around.

As the late comedian, George Carlin once said, ” Life is about getting more Stuff … you get a bigger home– Great ! Room for more Stuff !” This for the most part is entirely all too familiar within society today. What I challenge people to do is to stop and think before consuming Stuff made without purpose, or that is to say; made to be a Chair with a capital ‘ C ‘. Conversely, search for what will stand the test of time and has embedded within it the capacity to make your life better for more than a few months. After all, the objects within our lives are only extensions of our own bodies. They should always make us feel at ease.  Sentient Objects grow with us, because they were designed with an intent. I challenge designers to relieve this world of Stuff, and to fill it with Sentience.


One response to “irwin

  1. I too recall George Carlin’s diatribe on the intrinsic lack of value of accumulating more and more stuff. It is this “stuff” that we need to suppress which is only blocking our pursuit of a more full and connected life. I would in good measure concur with promoting the Sentient approach .

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