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Déjà vu

Déjà vu: they are those I find more and more often when I turn over the magazines or I skim the pages of the most important blogs about design and architecture. Maybe it’s because since I read “Architectural memes”: o dell’influenza, dell’eredità e della fretta in architettura. I can’t look at things as usual. In the article some projects are compared and seem they are copying each other, and that is not about architects inspired by “big” ones, but it’s about buildings made by “big” architects like BIG, OMA, MVRDV with similarities quite awkaward. The reason of such likeness is explained applying the fascinating theory of memes, made by Richard Dawkins in 1976 in the book The Selfish Gene. Memes are unities of cultural transmission: as genes, according to Evolutionary Theory, are the basic unities for the transmission of hereditary characters in biology, as memes, in cultural field, transmit certain ideas. Well, the topic is long and complex and I would advise you to read what is already explained in a clear and engaging way by Luca Silenzi and Paolo Bettini.
Instead I would focus on the point that a research about memes is daily made by Fabio Novembre on In his posts they are pick out some juxtapositions between objects, paintings, installations, architectures, illustrations, fashion elements, pieces of art which regain certain concepts. In some cases references are intentional and they have to be seen as explicit interpretations of classics in a modern context. In others cases they are similarities identified only through a personal sensibility, whereas in others cases again, if we exclude that the author tried to be sly, they are ideas that run at the same time into the mind of peple far miles from each other but probably they recieved the same stimulus. Anyway those by Novembre are parallelisms quite soughts if we compare them with memes more popular such as tetris, Rubick’s cube, Voronoi algorithm, chair/table-magazines rack, hook/bookshelf-tree shaped, yin/yang, pacman, calla, puzzle, pixel, woven straight lines (nest effect or Shanghai), devil ray and much more. Maybe a good advise is to check the originality of a project paying particolar attentino to memes. If it’s true that in Postmodern everything is already be seen, done, said and, as Italo Calvino said, what remains to us is a combinatorial game of elements from the repertory of history, decontextualization and the possibility to link new meanings to things, it is also true that the meaning of design is innovation. It’s not to be original at all costs but to bring new values to things around us and maybe the economic global crisis can help in this sense promoting a “natural selection” that give sense to objects.

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