SIMON YORKE DESIGNS – THE PHILOSOPHY
When Henry T Ford conceived the idea of mass-production, he envisaged a world of plenty, of unlimited resources, wealth, and boundless opportunity to create profit. In time, however, we have witnessed mass-production stimulate mass-consumption to the point where our lives have become dictated to by a world of epic commercialism that has overrun all other meaning.
In our centrally-heated homes we are insulated from the cold, the light, the wind, the rain and much of the feeling of being “alive”. We have become creatures of an unreal, robotic world, denying our true nature, and it seems to be bringing us little other than anguish and confusion. Our modern factories consume resources at one end and produce an endless stream of products at the other – each new product remorselessly designed to allure us with its advertised essentiality – thus perpetuating the whole destructive system. And though we know that this syndrome cannot be sustained we seem largely unable, or unwilling, to face reality and search for a more realistic, satisfying and responsible means of existence.
In this world of mass-manufactured items, all aspiration towards excellence in craftsmanship has been discarded in favour of the predictability of the robot; the desire for quality has given way to the demands of quantity and price, and the quest for profit has consumed almost everything in its wake. It is an evolutionary process that is destroying not only our physical world, but our spiritual wealth also. The emphasis upon science as the sole driving force of our modern society has led to the wholesale abandonment of concern for the nourishment of the inner or spiritual self. The accumulated wisdom of preceding generations has been arrogantly discarded in favour of a blind pursual of an ‘instant science’ which leaves us without beliefs, feelings or understanding.
I have great admiration for the high principles of our forefathers; for their undoubting vision and respect for preceding cultures; for their great cathedrals and works of art, and for their perfectionist attitude. One needs only to examine closely the everyday products of our modern society to conclude that the technological ground we have gained since their time has been largely at the expense of the human satisfaction they seem to have enjoyed. So many of our modern products are unfulfilling in terms of design, manufacture and ownership: they meet daily needs in a perfunctory, businesslike manner, but fail to stimulate our inner sense of beauty, feeling and understanding. In short, they fail to satisfy our true humanity, and accordingly cost us dearly.
Our world is abrim with ordinary products meeting ordinary needs: this is mediocrity, and in my view mediocrity is our greatest sin for it belittles us and our achievements, and discredits our intelligence and greater wisdom. It is my desire to produce only the very best that I am capable of; I aspire towards excellence, for it is my belief that only through such an approach can true meaning be found. And surely it is the search for meaningful experience that is the very essence of humankind. Of course in business it is necessary to make a profit, but there must, for me, be something greater than a simple financial goal: a desire to create art that steps beyond the daily reality of our lives, that reaches into and stimulates our inner selves. An art which has respect for the music and culture it serves and which seeks, genuinely, to enhance the lives of others.
Building musical instruments (for that is how I consider my work) is an important and serious business. I do not view these creations as mere products: they embody a philosophy which is important to me. I therefore continue to strive toward the design and construction of real musical instruments, better able to help people experience their emotional selves more honestly, and to encourage a deeper and more rewarding relationship with the wonder and passion of our musical inheritance. For within this musical history is contained all the hope, pain, joy, wonder, desperation and inspiration of our species. Perhaps more succinctly than all other forms of human expression, it is music which most honestly reflects our true humanity.
The purpose of “Simon Yorke Designs” is thus to offer a meaningful alternative to the vain, destructive and often nihilistic rationale of the modern “fast-moving-consumer-goods”-led society: to mingle philosophy with craftsmanship, art with engineering, and present the refreshingly simple ways of Zen, as best I can, in reverential sculpted form. It is my hope that through this work I can be of some value to our world.
Simon Yorke, (August 1992)