Spring-cleaning the shop tonight, I came across a dusty box containing something I didn’t even know I had: The wood blocks from when I was a baby. I remember them very well, having spent hours stacking and arranging and knocking them down.
I don’t recall painting them however. Some other kid must have done that later, perhaps one of my nieces, who apparently was feeling patriotic that day.
I especially remember the arched one, with the little piece that fits into it. I thought this was so very cool. I still do. I love arcs, I use them in my designs all the time.
Which makes me wonder…
I remember reading a biography of C.R. Mackintosh a few years back. The author visited his childhood home, which was nothing more than a dingy gray room in a Glasgow basement, shared with his parents and ten siblings. Featureless and unremarkable was the flat, save for a striking iron fireplace surround. The book (which I can’t seem to find on my shelf and thus all of this is from memory) showed the surround, which was stark and strong, yet elegant and clean in its presence. Its aesthetic pedigree was of the English Arts and Crafts era, yet more organic and graceful. In other words, it was approaching Scottish Art Nouveau, the genre which would later become synonymous with Mackintosh’s name. It was surmised, then, that little Charles, who would have had little else to keep him occupied, might have spent a great deal of time on the floor studying and internalizing the form of this fireplace, and that perhaps this one humble object by an unknown designer accidentally became the inspiration for Mackintosh’s entire body of work.
I thought about this when I found these blocks tonight. I use a lot of arcs in my designs.
p.s. Apparently I also once arranged these blocks into stores that offered ‘Free Cars,’ ‘Free Christmas,’ and ‘Free Cities.’ Looks like my lack of business acumen has early roots as well.