Recently, I came across a design office that advocates “designing for imperfection”. That seems sympathetic and seamlessly fits in with the Zeitgeist. After all, grittiness, unfinishedness and imperfection are in fashion. And not so much for circular reasons, but mainly as a ‘style’. In its most basic form, this shows itself in the global plague of ‘NYC-style’ coffee shops with obligatory crumbled stucco, exposed bricks and apparently hip recycled furniture that in reality involves quite a lot of Thai labor.
Imperfection also manifests itself in gnawed ‘pixelated’ building volumes and more generally in the Dutch quality of construction finishing. This is often characterized by moderate and even half-damaged results that clients too often settle for too easily. Where is that building that handles materials intelligently and with high efficiency, that is perfectly detailed, adaptive in design and that takes full advantage of state-of-the-art technology? Other than in the construction branch, there are few industries in which quality can be handled with such sloppiness. Cars, telephones, cameras: they are available in all price ranges, but without exception perfectly produced and functioning.
In this imperfect construction world, I long for people who strive for perfection without compromise. In the documentary film ‘Fucking Perfect’, top chef Sergio Herman almost self-destructively strives for perfect meals and dishes. Obviously with craftsmanship and the best products, but also continuously exploring the limits of innovative cooking methods and surprising taste combinations. The basis is a steady kitchen team of ambitious men and women who learn and practice the profession with great commitment.
Compared to this, the construction industry closer resembles the culinary experience at the average beach pavilion, that more or less always offers the same burger and chicken satay-with-fries menus. Which moreover are always served late by uninterested day laborers. Also, you can just hope you don’t catch an intestinal infection.
Ronald Schleurholts, architect partner cepezed
Cobouw, March 13th 2019