Purposeful Imperfections Reconfigured in Design

A few years back, I was at a friend's house, he lives in a giant mansion with just about everything you can think of, and we sat at one of his bars, and had a drink and an intellectual conversation about satellite communication and rerouting information to deal with bandwidth issues. And then, our conversation took a turn, and we talked about the beveled glasses we were drinking out of, there were teardrop shaped bubbles within the glass going from larger size to smaller size as they went up the side, several rows around the cylinder all perfectly aligned.

Indeed, it speaks to the innovation of glass makers, and the ingenuity of human artists. However, philosophically it also speaks to the concept of; "purposeful imperfections" in that normally bubbles in glasses and glassware are generally a design flaw and a mistake. But here those mistakes and imperfections were reconfigured into a design. Isn't that interesting when you think about it?

On one hand glass makers work so hard not to have imperfections to keep the integrity and tensile strength of the glass and prevent it from breaking, as glass is already brittle but hard. And yet it mankind's attempt to rid itself of imperfection, there seems to be a love hate relationship here. On one hand we marvel at the imperfections in our world, where everything is slightly different, no two clouds, no two trees, or no two faces on any two humans are the same. That's a good thing right, after all, what would beauty be if everything was the same, how would you know the difference?

It is said that something that makes the face on a human beautiful is its symmetry, as it is something we are drawn to. Perhaps genetically and due to survival of the fittest we are drawn to those humans that look more perfect than others because we feel they will give us the best offspring, and have the fewest flaws. It turns out that that in biology, this is generally correct, that we are looking for exact perfection, and yet, really when it is all said and done - we are looking for the image of perfection without total perfection.

Now then, back to the glass comment, creating planned imperfection in glass is difficult, designing those imperfections into an art form is brilliant. Aligning those imperfections in a new and interesting design is pure genius. And let's not even go into the technical challenges of producing imperfect flaws into a perfect design, controlling the imperfections to produce a new concept, and a new version, or even a new species if you will of glassware in this case.

Okay so, I will leave you with that example, and I hope that you will give some deep meaning it and really think on this at a philosophical level. You may e-mail me if you have any comments, questions, or case studies for my future articles.