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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yes Is More! A Changing Metaphor For Architecture

Yes Is More is the motto for the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), which follows an evolving series of precedents in mottoes from the last century. A brief evolutionary account will suffice :

Less Is More (Mies van der Rohe)
Less Is A Bore (Robert Venturi)
I'm A Whore (Philip Johnson)
More Is More (Rem Koolhaus)
Yes We Can (Barak Obama)
Yes Is More (BIG)

Each of the above metaphors and metonyms represent the respective Zeitgeist of each. For instance, Modernism was about the paring of ornament and reducing architecture to its most simple and basic austerity. This was seen as progressive as it was a break from past historical precedents which had dominated architecture for centuries. Since less ornament is progressive, and progress is good (more being metaphorical for good), the metaphor Less Is More arises. So Venturi's Less Is A Bore counters this Modernistic rationalism. Subsequently Johnson's I'm A Whore is honors Venturi's Less Is A Bore and breaking from Modernism, while adopting classical forms and shapes. In Johnson's metaphor he is being a whore by "working" (flipping tricks) with multiple architectural styles (clients). More Is More is relaying the honesty of architecture to architecture itself and the designer being conscious of this ontological aspect of design. Rather than allowing less to represent more, more should represent itself. So the more and more we build, the more and more entropy should follow, likewise equilibrium and organization. Progress is progress, and nothing less. Obama's declaration Yes We Can embraces the optimism of the new era, and is, likewise, metaphorical to progress.

BIG's metaphor adopts all the above, being a whore by saying yes to rules, requests, and constraints; being progressive by saying yes and, consequently getting more; being ontological by allowing yes and more to represent each other; yes in embracing optimism; yes in order to not be a bore.

I am curious if we will one day see Yes Is A Bore, or No Is Yes... or even You're A Whore!

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