Walter Karp’s “A Fascination with the Commonplace” (August/September issue) was of particular interest to me as I, too, collect the commonplace. The guidelines I use in my acquisitions are not unlike those of Margaret Woodbury Strong, except that my objects must be not only commonplace but useless as well.
In this era of functionalism. almost every object is built to accomplish a useful purpose, at times regardless of its aesthetic appearance. My collection of objects is not burdened by a social conscience and it repulses the idea that items must be useful. To paraphrase Descartes, “It is. therefore it is.”
Deep bas-relief plates in which food remains stuck that can only be removed with a one-lined fork represent reigning examples of some of my more glorious commonplace. In that league, too. are three-inch-tall Kiffel Towers that have views of lhe Luxembourg Gardens hanging on medallions between the arches. This laller ilem is very scarce, as most Eiffel Towers have thermometers down the side, rendering them useful.
To find the useless among the useful is difficult indeed. But fortunately such places as Hong Kong, C’apri, and Taiwan seem to flourish financially on items nobody needs.