Notes and Thoughts

The journey from raw thoughts to blogposts


Sincere imitation is authentic

William Morris, one of the pioneers of modern design, proposed a layered definition of authenticity based on expressivity, nominality, sincerity, and integrity instead of a simple originalism based view(comes from Greek).

I don't know if I am right in counting his contribution as relevant to modern design as he was primarily a medievalist(who was against the industrial revolution), but it definitely looks like he has had a significant impact on the aesthetic details of the industrial era's mass produced pieces. Also Micheala Braesel describes his contribution and his view of authenticty beautifully here: Reading Matters Braesel

A glimpse of which can see be here, where he in describing the authenticity says not how each pot must be unique or original, but that it must show the hand of the potter. Thereby implying his preference for sincerity and integration of artist's uniqueness and involvement.

First. Your vessel must be of a convenient shape for its purpose. Second. Its shape must show the greatest advantage of the plastic and easily-worked nature of clay, the lines of its contour must flow easily; […]. Third. All the surface must show the hand of the potter, and not be finished with a baser tool. Fourth. Smoothness and high finish of surface, though a quality not to be despised, is to be sought after as a means for gaining some special elegance of the ornament, and not as an end for its own sake.[15]

I think this explains his contempt for industrialisation as mindless mass produced imitation can never be authentic. His view was always to study the tradition and capture the living patterns, instead of bluntly emulating the original object. On the left is his illumination from when he was deep into medievalism(Note his for-this-era-approach even while emulating the design from 12th century: The flowers and the types of ornaments used are from 19th century); and On the right is when he wanted to retain the tradition of textual-decoration, but move away from medieval aesthetics.

I think the current usage of authenticity in hard sciences aligns more with Morris's view over traditional originalism based view as now we include everything from plagiarism to integrity to originality to mean authentic.


Michaela Braesel. (unknown). Reading Matters Braesel