The recent trends for minimalism, anti-clutter and practical living mean that we are increasingly surrounded by stripped-down spaces where everything has a vital purpose. So why do we still feel the urge to celebrate the purely ornamental?
If you saw this years Oscar-winning film Parasite, you’ll remember how a useless lump of rock on a plinth took a starring role. This was a scholar’s rock – a naturally occurring stone that is mounted and set on a table to be contemplated. It has no use at all apart from the ornamental, although the film showed how hard you can hit someone over the head with it.
Lots of us have something like this, an item that serves no purpose but which just pleases our soul. Clutter guru Marie Kondo would say that it “sparks joy”, but being useless, she’d probably bin it anyway.
But surely bringing pleasure is one of the most important uses that anything can have? Many of the best things in life, from poetry to paintings, fine wine to wonderful music, serve no purpose and are perfectly unnecessary – but imagine how poor life would be without them!
In fact, there’s a good argument that it’s an appreciation of the unnecessary that marks us out as humans. For millennia, humans have stopped working to survive and enjoyed the simple pleasures of art and music.
Here on Lanzarote, your home is a place where you can indulge any aesthetic whim you wish. This is the only Canary Island to have been defined by art, and a place where you can be bold and surround yourself with beauty.
If you doubt it, drive out to Tahiche roundabout and look at the recently re-erected Phobos sculpture by César Manrique as it whirls in the alisio wind and gleams and flashes silver in the sun. It’s completely useless. But isn’t it magnificent ?