Utilitarian Objects: Finding Beauty in the Everyday

How can we appreciate the sculptural qualities of utilitarian objects that we use daily?

What are the design elements that contribute to the aesthetics of everyday objects?


The aesthetics we can find in daily utilitarian objects stem from their design and form. Examples of these include symmetry, color patterns, and embellishments typically seen in objects like pottery.

We often overlook the aesthetics in everyday objects because of their commonness or because we are focused purely on their functional aspects. Still, everything from plastic cutlery to egg cartons incorporates design and, thus inherently, artistry. Utilitarian objects, as they are often called, are designed with not only function in mind but also form.

Take, for instance, pottery, one of humanity's oldest art forms. Pottery serves functional purposes, such as storage or cooking. Yet, at the same time, it is often rendered with aesthetic considerations like symmetry, color patterns, and embellishments that add to their physical attractiveness and artistic value.

Think about a simple ceramic coffee mug. It may have been designed to be symmetrical, with a precisely shaped handle for ease of holding - all elements that could be considered sculptural qualities. Another consideration is how these objects are shaped or formed from various materials.

This idea has its roots in the philosophical concept of hylomorphism, where a substance (like clay or metal) is transformed into an object through the application of shape or form. To appreciate these features, try to observe the objects around you, noting the design choices made in their construction.

Consider the appearance, texture, lines, protrusions, indentations, materials used, and how they feel in your hands as you use them. Not only could you gain a greater appreciation for these everyday items, but you might also begin to understand the subtle, omnipresent role that art plays in daily life.

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