Judd and the importance of reasonableness, usefulness and scale

‘Donald Judd once described being asked to design a coffee table. His plan was to adapt an existing art piece — a rectangular volume with a recessed upper surface. In the event the process of modification proved a failure, debasing the original and resulting in a flawed table that he later discarded. Judd used the story to illustrate the fundamental difference between art and architecture. There is no point in trying to adapt a work of art into a piece of furniture, he says, however close the forms might appear, because each springs from a different set of concerns and addresses a separate set of purposes: “The art of a chair is not its resemblance to art, but is partly its reasonableness, usefulness and scale as a chair... The art in art is partly the assertion of someone’s interest regardless of other considerations. A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself”.’

From an essay on design by Alison Morris
Republished in John Pawson 1995-2022, El Croquis

Available to purchase at elcroquis.es


John Pawson, Richard Davies, Fi McGhee