I suppose it’s appropriate to start this blog with a post about how and why Sonorous Design began. It started with a need I felt after visiting Asia and later, Europe.
In much of the world outside North America, the experience of beautiful art and architecture is part of everyday life. This is largely because, in the “Old World,” so much of this is left over from the past. It is hard to walk through the inner cities of Europe or Asia without seeing evidence of times when our worldview was much more poetic than it is today. Cathedrals or temples, old parks and statuary, old homes and even government buildings demonstrate a commitment to beauty that, in my opinion, puts much of the art and architecture of 20th Century North America to shame.
This is not to say that this is only thanks to times past. While living and travelling in much of Europe, I saw many modern public projects and consumer choices that expressed a continuing commitment to aesthetic quality. For example, I remember a parkade that blended in so well with its surroundings that it was hard to notice, even though it was in the middle of town. Once I did see the parkade for what it was, I still appreciated how nice it looked.
It was my time living in Europe that taught me how vital beautiful surroundings are to individual and social well being. For me, there was a richness, a flavour to life lived there—another dimension to experience. Objects of beauty and meaning weren’t just tucked away in galleries and museums; they were part of everyday life. And what I noticed about the most compelling art and architecture was that, paradoxically, it seemed charged with meaning, even though the meaning wasn’t clear to me.
This was the double hook that got me. Hook One: Beauty isn’t just a nice option: in an increasingly crowded world it is vital to well being. Hook Two: Objects can deepen our enjoyment of our surroundings by suggesting a connection with something meaningful and beautiful that is beyond our normal day-to-day thought and experience—like a suggestion of another dimension.
Ever since I came back from Europe, I’ve missed the presence of this crucial element. Yes, we do have beautiful art and architecture, but there isn’t so much of it around that we’re tripping over or bumping into it. So I kept looking for beauty in my surroundings, usually without finding it.
Pursuing my interest in cultural history helped fill this void, but I moved from that to designing and building things in wood when the timber-framing bug bit me. Then came my work in decorative concrete, which offered so many design possibilities that it began stimulating one idea after another. I found that combinations of simple shapes, colours, and materials could create pieces that were not only beautiful but that also evoked qualities of nature or past cultural styles. This association with larger expressions of beauty gave pieces a quality of depth and much more resonance or presence than something that just “looks nice.”
Pleased with my own work, I continued making pieces for myself for a few years. Eventually, the repeated “Wow” responses of people who happened to see my work made me realise that my designs were fulfilling much the same need in others as they were in me.
This was the beginning of Sonorous Design. Essentially, this endeavour is my personal response to banality. It is characterised by quality of design, careful craftsmanship, and real materials. In short, authenticity.
That’s why I do this. It allows me not only to express my values in my work but to also share those values with others.
Besides the need won’t leave me alone. So I might as well give in to it.