(Meat-)Balls of steel

I went to the Meat Ball Shop in Williamsburg the other day. The place is full of scrappy chic looks and hack inspiration as well as great food…My favorite hack are the vintage kitchen utensils hung on the wall by the entrance. Against the white wall background they appear as cooler than cool sculptures. The D.I.Y implication is to stash up on cool looking old tools to create your own cool still life – why not in the kitchen?!

(ps. My visit inspired a short essay on the industrial aestetic – scroll down if interested ds.)

Skateboard menu.

Yay! – Choc-Chip and cranberry ice cream sandwich.

The power of the industrial aesthetic in a post-industrial world

The hard-core industrial aesthetic has many hard-core fans. The impact and staying power of the trend has made me wonder what sets it apart. It strikes me as ironic, that the items from factories, and an era where muscle power reigned over brain power, now fill our favorite pastime haunts given that the industrial look has been adopted by a multitude of shops and restaurants, often at the ”hip” end of the spectrum. Thinking of this huge trend, I came back to a quote I read a few days ago, which seemed very on-the-spot:

The future of making is in hacking the post-industrial milieu

Sitting in the buzzing Meat Ball shop in hipster-haven Williamsburg I find my self sitting in the eye of the creative destruction of the industrial era. The franchise restaurant has three venues in NYC and has a rough industrial wibe to it. The place ooze with a sentimental vintage aesthetic, stemming from the 19th century portraits and other memorabilia from by-gone eras. Decorative vintage tools are hung as wall decor, gracefully smiling (yet shaking its head) at the new generation, just like a silver haired grandma to her grand kids.

Yet, in spite of the chorus of nods to the past, there´s evidently room for new ideas, with most prominent innovative feature being applied logics of ”user-generated-content” as guests are provided with non-permanent ink markers to tick the boxes of the plastic menus, indicating the desired customizations of the trademark meat ball dish. The combination is refreshing.

The skinny hipster limbs, further enhanced revealed by skinny jeans and tight fitting leather jackets, reveal bodies that has never felt the ache of the demands of hard body labor. Au contraire, the suffering du jour is diametrically different one. Today, our bodies seem to ache from the assymmetric relation between brain power and muscle power.

Coming back to my initial question on the popularity of industrial ”looks”. I find the whole range of popular cultural expression seems to be trying to deal with the trauma of lost industrial identity. We´re clinging on to our past, yet feel somewhat disconnected – we don´t understand the usages of the vintage tools hanging on the wall. In a way, just like we can´t seem to grasp the dimensions of the stories told by smiling silver haired grand mothers.

My hope is that in time, we´re transitioning from favoring mere industrial ”looks”, to understanding the usages of the tools hanging on the wall, just as I hope we will grasp the dimentions of the stories of  our silver haired grand mothers. I hope we will get a more symmetrical relation between muscle power and brain power in the line of our everyday work. I hope we don´t lose touch with the inherent power of our hands, that´s why I so firmly believe in the powers of everyday hacking.


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