Sunday, January 11, 2009

“You know The Birth of Tragedy by Nietzsche?”

The Phoenix Commotion, builds [homes] in Huntsville.

The house [Dan Phillips] working on now — his 12th in an oeuvre that’s garnered national attention — is made almost entirely from materials that had been bound for the trash. There are leftovers from other builders’ projects. Bits of broken mirrors. Wine corks and beer-bottle caps. T-shirts. Wood scraps. Signs discarded by a state park. Brown paper. And bones: beef bones, deer bones, even a whale rib.

By all rights, the place ought to look a mess, like “a slum admixture, or something out of Sanford and Son.” But it’s not a mess at all...

The secret, Dan says, is design and philosophy.

Which, like his materials, are free.

“You know The Birth of Tragedy by Nietzsche?” Dan asks.

“You know how he described the two strains of culture? There’s the Apollonian culture, where everything is crisp, tidy and perfect. And there’s the Dionysian culture, where everything is passionate and organic.

“If an Apollonian is hanging a picture, he gets out his level and his measuring tape and precisely centers the picture on the wall. If a Dionysian is hanging a picture, he takes the picture, holds it up to the wall, and goes, “Hmmm. Does this look about right?”

“Our building industry is entirely Apollonian. Architects pre-think their design, specifying these ideal materials and aiming to create these idealized shapes. They’re at a disadvantage. They work off in an office, drawing blueprints. They can’t get feedback from the materials and let the designs evolve.”


Recently, a butcher offered to give him as many beef bones as he wanted. Dan likes bone — it’s elemental, he says — and he recognized that beef bones could be treated like ivory. Bone, he decided, would be the motif he’d repeat , the concept that defines his project. The Bone House was born.

He tiled the kitchen counters with rectangles cut from rib bone. Bits of bone decorate the wood mosaic floor. Ribs form the balustrade on an upstairs balcony, and in the kitchen a jawbone with two gold teeth serves purely as a decorative flourish. Cross sections look like round tiles atop the stair treads. Outside, leg bones alternate with vertebrae over windows and under eaves...

excerpt from article by Lisa Gray
via Chron