Perhaps the man who managed to stand straight, came out of his cave, found a flint stone and started shaping to make a tool for hunting or carving was the first designer of human race. We do not know his name, identity or ideas, but we are certain that he belonged to a vast number of human beings who have been altering natural substance in order to make objects which can perform particular tasks.
There have been examples of earliest attempts of mankind in making artefacts found at various historic sites across continents, and we know that man tried to create tools, jewellery, utensils, but one is still perplexed about the origin of these objects: About the idea of shaping an object – which is an extension of a man’s body/facilities, and how it came into being. Here one can invoke Plato’s question on the relationship between an idea and object. According to him man could not have build a house, without ever having a concept of the house. And having the notion to house, prior to making one, is impossible because without having a house in reality its idea can not be conceived.
This passage between ideas and their manifestation is actually the history of objects, or the history of design. But more than the relationship between the initial concept and its execution in material, the act of making and manufacturing an item requires a basic understanding – the link between beauty and utility. Because even though we tend to believe that mankind’s earliest creations were more about fulfilling specific needs and tasks, but one is not sure, when the urge to decorate a tool emerged in the depths of a man’s soul or mind. Or was the element of aesthetics included/imbibed with the urge to forge elementary/archaic items?
Questions like these and others are investigated in the present issue of Art Now Pakistan while focusing on the way functionality of form is connected to the appearance of a product object. These queries are associated with the debates of socio-economic, religious and psychological aspects of a society and it’s existences. The connection between beauty and functionality is explored in the In Focus section, especially in the essay by Natasha Jozi, since she has a unique position of working as a practising artist besides being a commentator on the art of our times.
Along with her essay the photo-essay by Nashmia Haroon conveys the invisible line between beauty and usage, when it comes to the realm of urban situation. A similar approach is visible in the Interview of Iram Zia, with her recent works in the area of jewellery design that offer a new reading of the past, or in the Profile of Naiza Khan and Sonya Battla, presenting how the both personalities from two different disciplines work in collaboration and produce images/objects that have multiple and diverse meanings/usage.
In the section of exhibition reviews, book review and news Art Now Pakistan offers a glimpse of present art scenario, but knowing that present can not be mapped without venturing into past – as one can not proceed forward without putting a foot at the back. So the history of design, objects and their creation for fun or function can not be completed without an investigation on/of basic concepts – from here and now.