When understanding a design brings a new appreciation

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Edward, Feb 25, 2021.

  1. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Did you ever find yourself suddenly appreciating a classic/ vintage design that you'd never cared for aesthetically after discovering a practical advantage or its design purpose?

    I used to not much care for harness boots. Didn't like the harness in particular - I remember back in the 90s when I had a pair of cowboy boots buying ones with a removeable strap / harness, as I thought the built-in harness ones looked naff, like they were an imitation - you know, like those awful things you see on many leather briefcases these days that look like buckles til you get up close and then the buckle is a fake front for a push stud / clip / magnet / whatever? Of course, I later discovered the true design purpose (at least historically) as to why they are there. I also have come to appreciate the design more recently as a potentially easier on/off without (un)fastening buckles - attractive from pov of Winter air travel (in warm weather I wear penny loafers) or anywhere else when it's cold but security might want my boots to come off, and it's much easier if that's a quick off and fast back on...

    I've noticed this with a lot of other vintage things as well where I came to a whole new appreciation of the design after seeing the utility anew.

    Anyone else have this experience?
     
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  2. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Not exactly a design, not even a product. At school, our English studies were split into two; English Language & English Literature. The latter was the study of the classics. Could I get my head around Shakespeare? Dull as ditchwater. Fortunately for me we had an excellent English master, he arranged for his class to attend Othello at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was an afternoon performance, but the play was still very well attended, almost a full house.

    At the end of the play, after the audience had all left, my classmates and I, were ushered down to the front two rows. Once there, the cast returned to the stage, still in character, and held a question/answer session for about an hour with their young audience. It was amazing, the scales just lifted from my eyes, from that day on I read as much of The Bard as I could, those actors were brilliant, but the highest praise must go to our English teacher, Mr. McCardle, he has my appreciative thanks.
     
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  3. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    ^^^
    A wonderful story. I envy you this reach inside the Bard courtesy your master, cast and crew.

    My English master was Brother Sloan, an unkindly boor but perceptive and possessed of an innate
    cruelty I too often found within the Christian Brothers of Ireland; however, after lectures turned to Shakespeare,
    I must admit that Sloan correctly and without doubt cast Romeo Montague in "love with love,"
    not Juliet Capulet. I always look between the Bard's line of prose to discern his truth, and not merely
    settle for the extraordinary beauty of his prose.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  4. Haversack

    Haversack One Too Many

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    I came to appreciate the practicality of knee-breeches some years back when stationed in Franconia. While there, I noted that almost all foresters, fishermen, and not a few farmers wore leather or woolen knee breeches as part of their every-day working dress. Also, my landlord being a Jager/Hunter, introduced me to that particular culture and I eventually acquired a pair of woolen knee-breeches and a couple of pair of long woolen hose myself. What I found was that if one is living and working outdoors in the field and forest, it is your lower legs that get most of the mud and damp. Since cut-and-sewn clothes there have traditionally been comparatively expensive, knee-breeches made a deal of economic sense. I surmise the reason for their disappearance from common wear was due to the increasing urbanization of the population, (particularly the upper classes), and industrialization making mass-produced cloth cheaper. Both of these began to bear in the last quarter of the 18th C. (about the same time when knee-breeches fell out of fashion).
     
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  5. A mortar and pestle. Many years ago one of our cats required a medication that came only in pill form, but she couldn't swallow it because she was a tiny thing and the pills provided were too large for her throat. So I obtained a mortar and pestle set produced for use rather than decoration, and was impressed by how simple and elegant the design is. Crushing the pills into powder (so they could be sprinkled over our cat's food) was so effortless that I immediately understood why the design hasn't changed over time.
     
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  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Bavaria is extraordinarily beautiful and its history replete with significance past and present.
    I also noted knee breeches, leather wear and woolens but I was more intrigued by jackets, long coats.
    The use of leather in German tailoring, luggage has always sparked my interest. Now, the area wines
    are more my focus.
     
  7. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "Walking shoes."

    s-l400.jpg

    When I was young we called these "Girl Scout shoes," because they were sold as such in the official Girl Scout uniform catalog. When I was very young, I had to wear heavy orthopedic shoes because my feet were not quite up to standards, so as I got older I began to resent any kind of a shoe that looked heavy and substantial, and "Girl Scout shoes" were something I never wanted to wear.

    But then I grew up and I got older, and I got heavier, and one day I realized the shoes I was wearing just didn't cut it anymore, and I got a pair of "Girl Scout shoes," with the solid leather upper and the broad heel and the built-in arch support, and I have worn out at least nine pairs in the years since. You can't get them new anymore, since the factory closed down about ten years ago, and I'm constantly trawling eBay for NOS pairs in the colors and size I need. They aren't "cute shoes" by any stretch of the imagination, but when you're old and carrying fifty pounds more than you did thirty years ago, and you're on your feet a lot, and you need a lot more support than you get from a pair of overpriced Mickey Mouse sneakers, the humble "Girl Scout Shoe" has a lot to recommend it.
     
  8. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    Watch pockets on blue jeans.

    It’s curious that the manufacturers still include the watch picket, seeing how so few people use pocket watches anymore (if it’s as many as one person in a thousand I’d be surprised), and that including it comes at some expense.

    Have there ever been mass-produced blue jeans with the watch pocket on the left, to better accommodate the southpaws?
     
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  9. As a pocket watch carrier myself, I appreciate the pocket, though I suspect that it's often included just for aesthetics, not functionality these days. It's simply become part of the design.

    And now that you mention it, I don't believe I've ever seen that pocket on the left.
     
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  10. I can't recall ever having owned a pocket watch, but while I was a smoker I used that pocket to police my cigarette butts after I had extinguished them--put 'em out, stuff 'em in the pocket, then dispose of them properly the next time I encountered a trash can. Worked out nicely.
     
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  11. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    ^^^^^
    In my smoking days I field stripped the butts and stuffed the filters in my left rear pocket (my wallet resides in the right pocket). Litter annoys me no end, and I suffered no illusions about cigarette butts being litter. But I’m sure I must’ve smelled like an ashtray, no matter how oblivious to it I must have been.

    I’ve owned a couple of cheap pocket watches, but I don’t recall ever putting one in the watch pocket on my jeans.

    I wear a Mido wristwatch. It’s probably a few years older than me. Few people wear wristwatches anymore, leastwise wristwatches that only tell the time. I see people wearing Apple Watches occasionally, but not large numbers of people. I get the sense that the product is not a huge success.
     
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  12. It seems those of us who pre-date cell phones still wear wristwatches, while the "kids" whip out their phones when you ask if they have the time. In that sense I suppose cell phones could be considered as modern pocket watches, but I still find wristwatches far more convenient. Timex for me, by the way, for at least the last 50 years. They're inexpensive, do the job of telling time just as well as any other time piece, and they're easy to replace when they finally implode.
     
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  13. The geodesic dome & the buckyball both by Buckminster Fuller from a structural engineering point of view, then an architectural one.

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  14. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    I once had an office next door to a business called Horological Services, a one-man (since deceased) operation. George repaired super high-end watches. He said that his was a dying trade. The quartz-crystal movement in a $15 watch you could buy at the drugstore around the corner was the same one found in a $5,000 Movado, he said. And it keeps better time than anything he had in his vault. (He and I were both cigarette smokers back then, so I’d bop over to his place to fire one up.)

    My old Mido runs maybe four minutes fast over a 24 hour period. Your Timex keeps better time, I’m sure.
     
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  15. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    You know when sometimes, a word is on the tip of your tongue, but your memory cells refuse to play ball? Trying to explain the design of The Eden Project to my young Godson. Could I remember the definition, geodesic dome? I could not. It's a bit late to text him now but it will keep until the morning.
    Eden Project.jpg
    The Eden Project.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
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  16. dlite90

    dlite90 Familiar Face

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    Yes, 100% for henleys. I never liked them until I realized I could unbutton the collar to let out body heat while I’m cycling. It’s easy to get soaked in sweat while cycling in cold weather if you wear the wrong thing. So henleys are common for cyclists.
    I wear an off-white/unbleached white Henley under my leather jackets for an accurate vintage look. Never get 2 buttons, only 3 or 4.
     

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  17. There is a gentleman like that here in town. He opens his shop on days he feels like it, closes when he feels like it, hasn’t answered his phone in 40 years, and will get to your repair when he gets to it. But he is the go to guy for any serious watch repair. He’s told me more than once he’s tried to get younger folks interested in learning the trade, even approach the local community colleges and technical schools about him teaching classes, but no one is interested. The idea of a device that just tells time is just not on the radar for most younger folks these days. It’s a shame, because when he’s gone, that’ll be the end of that.
     
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  18. There's a watch shop here that was owned and operated by a very nice older gent who knew his way around the inside of a watch. I'd stop by if the battery in my watch died and needed to be replaced or if I got a new watch with an "expansion" band that needed to have a section removed to make it fit better, not because I couldn't do it but because I liked bringing a little work to him so he could keep the doors open. I say "was owned and operated" because the last time I was there a younger man was running the place. He said the older gent who normally ran the place was his grandfather, and that he (grandfather) had passed away. He said he would be keeping the shop open as long as it was still feasible to do so, hoping he would convince his grandfather's customers that he knew what he was doing as well. The shop is still open but I haven't had a reason to visit so I don't know who's in charge now; I hope it's the grandson, keeping the family tradition/business going.
     
  19. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    It's sad how we're now seeing certain things dying out, such as watch repair places. I suppose watch repair will always exist as a skill, but (much like serious pipe tobacconists or off-mainstream vinyl record shops) it'll gradually all go online, or perhaps become manufacturer-specific as watches become more and more a luxury product.

    An in-character Q&A sounds fantastic fun!

    A sharp observation. Shakespeare was much more of a cynic than many realise; Romeo was in love with teenage infatuation; Anthony and Cleopatra were each in love with themselves.

    During the Gaeilc revival period in Ireland in the late nineteenth / early twentieth century, there were those who sought a specific 'Irish national dress'. Ireland of course by that point had largely shared fashion with England for so long that there wasn't really anything suitable - at least post 1600. As no less than Patrick Pearse noted, had the Irish dressed in the clothing of their ancestors from that era, it would have looked like they'd forgotten their trousers when they went out... Pearse and some others favoured 'borrowing' the kilt (one of the origins of the Irish saffron or tweed, single-colour kilts), but others opted for knee britches or plus fours as a point of distinction from the English trouser. Ultimately neither caught on, though doubtless this sort of thinking in part influenced the jumbling into Irishness of the kilt among other Scottish traditions presented as "Irish" by the New World diaspora.

    These have a certain design appeal, imo - much nicer than women's shoes from the 60s-70s here in the UK. People think the 70s invented ugliness, but fi you see some of the shoes that were fashionable for women in sixties Britain....!

    There's a lot to be said for comfort in a shoe. With taking the dog out three or four times a day now, I tend to keep my boots on all day; decent boots that are still comfortable after twelve hours are a wonderful thing.

    Sort of thing I've often wondered as a southpaw myself.

    I suspect the simple answer is that, unless someone somewhere had a pair bespoke made, it's highly unlikely, given that pocket watches gave way to the wrist watch long before being left-handed was entirely socially acceptable. At least here in the UK, there are still some of us Generation X who at one time and another encountered hostility to being allowed to use our left hand to write in school; my paternal grandfather (born 1914, from memory) was probably the last generation of our family to have encountered them as a norm, and he had it beaten into him in school to write with his right hand. Even by the time he died in June 1980, while he could as a result write equally well with both hands, he habitually lifted a pen and wrote with his right hand first, despite doing absolutely everything else with his left.

    The other thing on this side of the Atlantic of course is that jeans really only became mainstream post-war, in my understanding, by which point of course the wristwatch had taken over.
     
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  20. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    I notice this with my undergraduates. Some years ago I purposely chose to switch to a mechanical watch, even given the greater accuracy of quartz. I have a fair few now, none of any great value. I do need to clear most of them out. My daily wearer until ten months ago was an Invicta Submarineralike. I'm at a point now where I'd like, perhaps as a 50th present to myself in a few years' time, to put some money into a couple of really decent watches, and stick to just those. I have my eye on an automatic movement Hamilton Ventura, and a Rado Captain Cook divers watch (in the early-60s smaller bod version). I'd also adore a Tudor Black Bay 58, though I'd probably seek to go second hand on that one as new they are significant money. Watches I could wear regularly for the rest of my life.

    I do have a couple of nice pocket watches, but I tend to wear them much less often, usually with white tie or mornig dress / stroller.

    A pin went on my Invicta about ten months ago so I've been unable to wear it since (being on lockdown pretty much for a year now). Surrounded by timing devices and of course my phone, but I badly miss wearing a watch daily. Particularly liked the Submariner style as I love switching out the nylon Nato straps.


    My favourite ~Winter undershirt is a Darcy Henley. For years once I was old enough to 'control' my own clothing. I wore printed band t-shirts under a shirt in the Winter for warmth. When I hit my early 30s, around the same time as I discovered TFL, I felt I needed to grow beyond that. I was coming into a stage of no longer wearing printed Ts at all, and I instead picked up a few plain white undershirts. Somewhere on here I picked up the notion of wearing an undershirt in Summer as well, and that has been my habit ever since. I've rather come to like the look of the 'vests' now that I once saw as something I was made to wear as a kid... There's a nice, appreciable loucheness to wearing an undershirt-t-shirt around the house as an outer layer at the weekend.... makes me think of Raul Julia in Addams Family Values ...
     
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