Monday, June 8, 2009

Me and the letterbox designers

At home the mail arrived in an acoustic series: the gate, postie’s footsteps, then the flap, the fall, the soft sound of displaced air, the flap clicking shut again and the delightful sound of mail hitting the mat…

Here there is only the sound of the postie’s bike. For here we live in the land of the Mail Box.

Mail boxes fascinate me. Because once you get over the idea that there are some that are obviously home made, most are manufactured.

And that means there are people who not only make them for a living, but there must be, somewhere, someone who designs them. And probably runs customer surveys to test the waters about shape and colour and size.

Imagine; a science of mailbox design. A culture of designers. There must be famous mavericks, and outstanding practitioners talked about with hushed reverence or envy whenever two MBD gather. There must be radical designs and clichéd designs, designs that push the envelope so to speak: impractical ones, safe ones, offensive ones…a whole aesthetic of serious concerns wrapped in contingent values for a small group of dedicated professionals whose work and care might appear slightly lunatic to the outside world if it ever stopped to bother about them.

When was the last time you heard a mailbox designer interviewed about his or her views on politics, the economy, the state of the swine flu? Do they have conferences with key note speakers? Do they discuss the implications of new technologies and Globalization. Do they demonize their enemies; fear email and txt messages? Look with evil longing at the computer and imagine sticking one of their uprights though it’s smug shiney email carrying screen

When they go at home at night what do they talk about to their partners? How did they meet them in the first place, what strange opening lines were used to instigate conversations at parties?

Why I have never talked to one? Or met one? Where do they hide?

And what do they dream about? Letterboxes with no angles. No lines curved straight or otherwise…the impossible letter box with no entry and no exit which denies function but retains form? The letter box that creates its own mail? Do they dream of being post, mailed in a box, waiting for the hand of God to read their destinations and send them on their way?

I don’t ask these questions because sometimes Letterbox design seems far more mainstream than the things I do…..but because someone should speculate about them.

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