Vol. XXIII, Number 2 (November 1912)
Voysey, C. F. A.
The quality of fitness in architecture and furnishings, pp. 174-182 PDF (2.7 MB)
THE QUALITY OF FITNESS IN ARCHITEC- TURE AND FURNISHINGS: BY C. F. A. VOYSEY LI art is the manifestation of thought and feeling, the artistic quality of any object being that in it which stimulates thought and feeling. There must there- fore always be varying degrees of art, from good to bad. According to our moral perceptions, we may arouse painful thoughts and feelings, or pleasant ones. The nobler ideas and emotions manifest the highest arts, quite apart from technical excellence. Every soul that breathes would like, if he could, to arouse in the minds and hearts of others the best impulses and acts. "Our friends are people who see the good in us and who believe in that good." Many will ask, What have such theories to do with architecture? We believe them to be the essential basis of all the arts. An architect may encourage greed or generosity in his client. He can suggest many vices, like deception and pretentious vulgarity, or fan into flame better thoughts and feelings, helping the struggle for good work, honest construction, simple dignity and harmony, repose and reticence. The architect may regard himself as a paid hireling whose first duty is to give his client what he thinks the client wants, never allowing his own conscience to interfere; saying, like a shop- man, that he must meet all tastes; or he may tactfully encourage his client to have his needs supplied on given principles of strict integrity, and arouse in him enthusiasm for honest construction and frank admission of his true status and limitations. He can remind him of reverence which leads to respect for nature and all natural conditions, so blending his building harmoniously with nature, and making it as good as it looks, and not fraudulently in imitation of something better and more magnificent than his means can allow. Better frank simplicity than sham elaboration and pretentiousness. Fitness is a divine law, and by fitness we mean not only material suitability, but moral fitness-that which expresses our best thoughts and feelings and our purest moral sense. We must recoil from all forms of dishonesty. If a client is greedy and wants too much accom- modation for his money, we must refuse to supply it, if it necessitates shoddy building or weak and faulty construction. We must start with the determination to build as well as we can; then will follow such qualities as simplicity and repose, which, if truly loved and sought after, will affect our architecture not only in general design and planning, but in every detail. The proportions of our rooms will suggest repose if we are really striving for it as we design our building, and a peaceful homely effect will be produced by these qualities that will appeal to all in greater or less degree. The desire 174