Recently, while watching the live stream of the TEDx Houston conference (I had hoped to catch my friend Brene Brown but she had already done her talk) I came across the architect Dan Phillips. If you haven’t heard of him already, you can fall in love with him in the above video.
He makes the most extraordinary and artful homes out of repurposed materials (stuff headed for the landfill, burn pile or salvage) He can make cathedral ceilings out of discarded picture frame corners, floors out of old wine corks and walls out of shattered mirrors. He also insists that the family he builds a home for helps in the actual construction process. I love that beauty and artistry are not sacrificed at all in this process, but imperfections are highlighted and celebrated.
One of the things he said in his talk that I can’t get out of my mind is this: (I’m paraphrasing) “If you have one cracked tile, it’s a flaw. If you have several pieces of cracked tile, you have a pattern.”
This thought/principle about design makes me exceedingly happy.
It also reminds me of something I (think) I read in Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. She said, (Again paraphrasing) In one particular culture (India?) they intentionally build a flaw into the design of every building they construct. This honors the imperfections of humanity.
Perfect is something we often strive for, but in the end it is hardly more beautiful or wonderful than the imperfect way of real. The gaps in the front teeth, the vulnerable and tender heart that feels hurt, the way that Ben calls blimps “plumps” and we refuse to correct him.
Think of all the ways you love the imperfections today. Maybe not in yourself (that’s the graduate level seminar) but perhaps in others, in your home, in the artful world around you.