230 words from
Arranging Things: A Rhetoric of Object Placement

"This book started out as an attempt to understand what made the arrangements I saw in a San Francisco store, Japonesque, so extraordinary. For years I visited Japonesque and enjoyed the unique arrangements of ceramic, rock, old wood, plant materials plus other sundry and eclectic objects and wondered what it was that gave them their imaginative vitality. Of course I asked the proprietor/arranger (Koichi Hara) how he did what he did. But after a few conversations it became obvious that he was either unable, or unwilling, to articulate his secrets. Conversations with other creators of extraordinary arranging ability (Gary Weiss of IXIA in San Francisco, Len Morgan and Angus Wilke of Cove Landing in New York, Lee Hollingworth of Story in London, and Andreas Geis of Blumenkraft in Vienna) were similarly stimulating but ultimately fruitless at getting to the explicable roots of great arrangement. I pragmatically concluded that there was no algorithm or formula for exceptional arrangement design, yet I suspected that the conceptual principles of superior arrangement must exist or could be manufactured and that I could find them if I just persisted. So I changed my methodology. Instead of relying on arrangement practitioners for insights, I attacked the literature of art, art history, criticism, merchandising display, communication theory, literary theory . . . until I chanced upon rhetoric (see page 24). Anyway, I had my rhetoric epiphany six months after I had commissioned the paintings. . . .”

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