Archive for December, 2011

Aesthetics and function

December.29. 2011

Driving around Sibu is a nightmare.

Not only are the streets cramped and small, but a number of years back, some politicians got together and decided to make the narrow streets even narrower.

The reason? To beautify the city.

So they hired some town planner and put in all these beautiful sidewalks with green trees lining them. The idea was to turn Sibu into a garden city and streamline traffic flow.

Trouble is, someone forgot the loading trucks.

You see, Sibu shops were built back in the days when goods were delivered by trishaws. They didn’t build alleyways back then wide enough for trucks to pass through.

So when trucks came on the scene, they naturally unloaded their goods in the streets in front.

When their old loading zones were turned into sidewalks because of the new beautification efforts, these enterprising truck drivers  just stopped anywhere they could to unload their wares, resulting in perpetually clogged and sometimes impassable streets.

Where’s the law enforcement in all this? I think they understood the truck drivers’ dilemma so they just turn a blind eye.

Aesthetics and function.

It’s probable those smart city planners never visited Sibu or did not understand that a city must not only be beautiful but it must be functional too.

I’ve seen pictures of beautifully designed interiors with no storage spaces in sight. It’s all very well to live in those nice beautiful spaces but where do I put my junk? By that, I mean my books, of course, and the other necessary paraphernalia of life such as clothes and food.

The common solution in many of those super slick modern homes is to hide these ‘ugly’ items of life. With me, however, out of sight usually means out of mind, so I usually prefer my stuff in plain sight, otherwise I forget about them. Plus, of course, I don’t need the hassle of having to open a closet door every time I needed an item like a book or clothes.

Aesthetics to me must always be based on function.

The beauty of a hand made cleaver lies in its functionality. Without that functionality, it’s just a piece of scrap metal. The beauty of a website is in its functionality, the more functional it is, the more beautiful, that’s why you wouldn’t see a single unnecessary element on my other site.

I bring that focus on functionality into my life too. I make sure everything in my life serves a function.

The reason for this focus on functionality is maintenance. I find that the more stuff I have, the more time I waste maintaining them. Even a little display ornament needs the occasional dusting and cleaning. So I stay away from anything that serves no useful function other than to ‘beautify’ the place.

Coming back to the cramped streets of Sibu, the city planners should have required that all the shops modernize and renovate their back ends to allow access to loading trucks. This way, the streets would be free of loading and unloading trucks, allowing easy access for cars and pedestrians.

But no, these geniuses did what politicians do best, which is to create a mess where there was none, and leave the citizenry (and truck drivers) to deal with it as best as they can.

In a battle between functionality and aesthetics, functionality usually wins, but somehow the inevitable make-shift solutions are never very aesthetic.