The Week of July 22nd - July 28th


Words according to Thomas, Co-Founder, Jack of all Trades, and Creative and Visual Director of Raven Vanguard


We dedicate this Weekly Once-over to the perceptions of Gia M and Lacy C


Does Beauty Still Matter?

I know that it used to matter to most people profoundly; at least in centuries past, it did. But does it matter now? In any form? Or to anyone? Well, that is to anyone other than Brooke, Dakota, and me. Thankfully, we also know that beauty matters very much to both Gia and Lacy. But does it matter to you, do you desire it in your life?

Why have most designers, architects, and even most artists, succumb to the infinite trap of utilitarianism, commonality, and minimalism? In other words, promoting the spread of uninviting monotony. As to why this is the case, I have never been able to articulate an answer that makes complete sense entirely.

For me, I have never understood the satisfaction that many people implausibly find in merely being unexceptional. Fuck ordinary; that’s not my thing, and it will never be Raven Vanguard’s thing.

And even though the reasons why society covets being average might be somewhat incomprehensible, I do know when it first started to happen – January 1933. Yes, in part, the downward trajectory of innovative and radical artistic creativity began with Hitler’s rise to power as German Chancellor and the coinciding fall of Germany’s Weimar Republic (history seems to have long forgotten that Berlin was at the worldwide pinnacle of artistic freedom and creativity in the Interwar years). The why it happened is much more complicated, but the aesthetic undoing of which I speak is undoubtedly rooted in the events surrounding World War II and its cataclysmic aftermath.

World War II changed humankind forever and did so in a spiritually apocalyptic sense. It also frightfully changed the world in geopolitical, technological, economic, fiscal, psychological, theological, and moral terms. Even though World War II didn’t officially begin until Hitler invaded Poland in September of 1939, and formally ended with the Potsdam Conference in 1945, in reality, this was no ordinary six-year war. The devastation wrought by World War II exceeds the boundaries of its historical timeline and indeed extends from 1933 through to the conclusion of the Cold War in 1991.

The point of this Once-over is not to condemn every genuine attempt to express the idea of reductivism or minimalism in design. Simplicity and function for the sake of function have their time and place. I also don’t fully denounce the oversimplified notion of form following function. We appreciate a well-executed minimal aesthetic provided it doesn’t entirely forsake or censure beauty and ornamentation — case in point, the wonderful Necessary Objects collection by the design duo Brave Matter -

This sentiment brings me to the point of this Once-over finally – beauty seems to have wholly slipped from our collective consciousness.  

Whether beauty has been erased permanently, or has merely been temporarily forgotten and patiently awaiting resurrection is the puzzle we are grappling with in our day-to-day existence. To me, beauty in all of its sensory forms makes it much easier to deal with the trials and tribulations of daily living. Surrounding myself with beauty makes it easier to manage just about everything. To my dismay, functionality, in the post World War II context, seems to have purposefully eradicated aesthetics from the conversation altogether.

Please do not construe this Once-over as our attempt to define the parameters of beauty. Beauty is boundless, and beauty is not a universal concept. Beauty, in some instances, is unquestionably objective; but, by and large, beauty is, as it should be, subjective, meaning to the senses of the beholder.

The point of today’s Once-over is to encourage you to surround yourselves with beauty in all of its variant forms. We do and are bountiful because of it.