Journey to Novelty // How We Appreciate Ordinary Things

I woke up to every morning and see the same room. At some points, it accumulated my memories, thus growing attachment to the place I’m being. I did this at routine, which I could say my room is ordinary because I saw it just exactly the same everyday. But one day I had to move out to another town. I found something unusual, or perhaps I shall call it new to me. Everything brought new sensation that I’ve never felt before. However then it’s just about time when it all finally turned into something ordinary. As I move out and move out, we could notice a pattern how we always encounter ordinary things then new things then it turned to be ordinary things at the end. Yep, this is what we are going to talk about.

What I’ve talked before is not just related only into our daily scene of life. We might happen to see this when we found something interesting that we never encounter before. This is also applicable into architecture and design. Nonetheless, we have coined a term for that – novelty. If you take a quick look in Google, novelty would means “the quality of being new, original or unusual“. My professor, Hanson E. Kusuma, in his article, wrote that “something could be said as novelty if it is distinguishable from the ordinary.” Yet, we conclude here novelty is relative, depends on someone perception.

Let me talk about that in graphics.OrdinaryLet’s say this box and it’s shadow is your ordinary day. You notice the same pattern: same activities, same route you take, same destination you go into, etc. It goes on into repetition, which you are getting used to every day. If we take our daily campus life as routine, then we are dealing right now with assignments, some friends invite us to hang out the same place, and typical bureaucratic in campus.

NoveltyBut somehow, there’s something different! You probably conscious about the existence of odds – it lead you to take respond. Some say let’s embrace it, while the others might oppose. We name it novelty, as it is a distinct scene from the ordinary pattern. The chances are, there’s this new cute girl come and you click with her. You fall for her as she lightens up your days. You start to go out together and visit new places. Hmm, sounds too good to be true? (Well, I want to take daily office routine as a case and road reparation as it’s novelty but it will not enjoyable though “Ugh, yeah got that this morning”)

Novelty – there’s something new that in turn change the pattern. As you are now going out with this girl, you have to make sure you looks impressive enough for her. Maybe now you get dressed up, looking for the latest man’s fashion trends and join kickstarter to get the latest cool stuffs to show off. You unfold new compulsion out of your convention – some say it getting out of the comfort zone for a change. You used to dress in Nike, but now your choice is Lacoste.

New OrdinaryBut then hey, why it suddenly gets boring? Purchasing fancy shoes initially sounds pleasing but now it’s dull. Visiting the park with this cute girl become tedious. The new cute girl now turn into former cute girl – she doesn’t get as interesting as before. You possibly said, “She’s not that cute though”. That’s just about the moment you realize how things have lost it’s novelty. Young grows old, future turns into past.

Should we blame the situation? Shall we do some revolution? Register an id on Tinder? Don’t be extreme. The point is we will never appreciate novelty if ordinary doesn’t exist at first. Borrowing a statement from an architecture book (Pfeifer and Brauneck, 2008) “The principle of repetition therefore also stands for continuity, reliability, stability and homogeneity – attributes that definitely carry positive denotation“. It is then continued by “When we think of music, the importance of repetition to reveal coherence becomes apparent“. You never notice a reff part in music if the whole part of the music is flashy. There need to be a certain repetitive composition to bring you aware “oh yeah, that’s it. That’s about it!”

RevivalBut of course we have to move into advance. We might consider reflecting, taking some elements of the past. Alright, let’s wear a Lacoste shirt, but with Nike pants. Change the way we look again but considering the classic looks we used to had. But perhaps there would be slight modification into it – it won’t be totally the same. We revive some elements but blend it with contemporary notion. The cute girl (oh yeah, we don’t forget about her), now we not only appreciate solely it’s cuteness, we found that ‘oh’ – her personality is interesting too. Wow, she is cute and delicate as well! And after a long harsh winter, spring comes again. Your heart flatter again. Yeah, there’s always something to discover.

Walking on the Novelty via Ordinary

I don’t know how I ended up writing a love story about a cute girl, arousal of conflicts when things get boring and finally find way back into love. But this simple matter actually defines what we face in architecture and design – particularly I want to talk about this topic. The battle of modern and post modern in our contemporary world.

When we build our new classic at the early 20th century – the modern architecture in clean cut and straight lines – it creates new standard as it emerges as a movement. Post modern comes along with deconstruction of old mindset, tried to rejuvenate discourses in architecture and design. But then people criticize post-modern, some say it’s ignorant and neglect functions, main purposes of doing a design. Modern architecture got it’s position again, but hey – now it brings new friends such as “sustainable architecture” and “building information modelling”. Building is about function again, but not merely a machine like it used to be. It’s about new vision of anticipating the future.

And so it goes on in a cycle. Now we start to understand why things get ordinary and how we actually should value the existence of ordinary. It paves the way for novelty to comes into. We don’t necessarily to always reject being typical, we are just creating a pre-condition for new emerging ideas. It’s okay to criticize and build arguments, as it is how our world works to inspire minds and alike.

We don’t have to revolutionize everything, just need to be conscious about what should be change and what could be stay the same. Of course, we need to move on to time ahead, then again – by think highly of ordinary things thus we could treasure novelty.


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