Time + Honesty = Texture
I have always been fascinated by old things. Whenever I have the choice between a brand new or used version of something and they both function similarly, I will always opt for the older one. Why I do this is unclear. Is it mere romanticism for bygone days? Sentimentality for an imagined narrative attached to the item? I’ve begun to see something more significant at play.
Everything, with use, begins to take on a telltale array of scratches, scars, smudges, and discoloration. Let’s call this time texture. I think that time texture is an object’s way of telling us that it is reliable. It says, “I have stood the test of time, and will continue to do so.” When we surround ourselves with these time-textured objects, a part of our mind can relax, trust the solidity of our environment, and feel emboldened in the task of creation.
Alternatively, perhaps you have need of something — say, a workbench. You cannot find an old bench with that important time texture, so you decide to make one yourself. You may dash one off in an afternoon and come out with something serviceable, but it probably will not have any great degree of inspirational texture.
If, however, you spend the time to carefully design the bench, purchase just the right materials, then carefully craft every joint, surface, and feature, you will end up with a product that is saturated with thought texture. Thought texture is similar to time texture in that it is very difficult to fake or do quickly, but it does not necessitate the passage of years. Instead, much of that valuable time is invested up front.
Additional to the element of time, which is inherent in both of these sorts of textures, is the quality of honesty. It sounds strange to attribute honesty to an object, but I’ve found this a helpful way to conceive of the built world. Over the life of an object, time texture will almost always reveal what it is made of, and attempts to conceal its underlying nature always strike me as a bit deceptive or disingenuous. Likewise, thought texture arises from a sincere and attentive engagement with the material during the process of creation. Honesty is an integral part of these textures and, like texture itself, is virtually impossible to fake.
There is something incredibly valuable to my creative process in surrounding myself with honest time and thought textures. Items imbued with age and intention convey trustworthiness, and in their presence, I find myself gently reminded to emulate that quality. If I can create work that will age honestly and take on a deep texture over the course of years, I can rest assured that I have done my work well.