Well worn

frauThere is one aspect of modernity which bothers me a bit: nothing ages anymore. Many of the objects we use are simply not designed to age well. Computers, phones, appliances are built to be Forever new until they break: there’s no such thing as a well worn iPhone. Clothing has also undergone a revolution (which started with the Stone Washing process, I believe): it’s very rare today to buy a piece of clothing that needs to be worn for a while, before it becomes right – that is, well worn. I remember when jeans used to come in just one flavour: stiff. They needed about three months not to hurt, and about a year to start to look right. But then they still had a few years of life, and beauty, as well worn jeans. Ikea (and Ikea/like) furniture is never built to age well: they sell furniture, why would they? They design it to be quickly replaced by new, shiny, non-aging stuff. Unfortunately, the only things that age well now are very expensive (like the armchair portrayed above), and often unique. Owning a unique object has become a very rare, and generally overlooked, experience. And then there’s people; when I was a kid I used to think that old folks were the most beautiful. I loved their white hair, their wrinkles, the way they dressed. Now I’m surrounded by old people that want to look young: fillers, hair dyes, at the gym every day, to fit into those teenage clothing and look a few weeks younger (but much worse, in my eyes). Old isn’t gold anymore, apparently.

Why am I so fond of well worn things (which include clothing, furniture, musical instruments, fabric in general, wooden or stone objects, etc.)? I like the way they look, but the real reason is that they’re extremely tactile. Touching them is a very amazing way to discover their features, their properties. This is true of a sculpture, as well as an anvil (yup, I own two) or an armchair. Wearing a well worn coat* is not just comfortable and nice to the touch. It feels like my favourite guitar, or my favourite wrinkle, which runs vertical on one side of my face, a bit like a scar. Or like my very well worn jeans felt when I was 20. Mine.

*A rare experience in 2018: either you buy an expensive one and wear it down yourself, or you’re lucky and find it second hand. All the new stuff won’t last 3 winters.