The other day I did a post about a deck barrier railing that was made out of tree branches, and how that railing was not an appropriate barrier even though some might consider it “attractive.”
When we attempt to meld creativity with function we can often get ourselves into trouble. Things like barrier railings that are required by the building codes to be “safe” can be done in a way that is also attractive, but to have it end up being “Art” is most likely going to prove difficult.
For me, Art doesn’t do well when “confined” to requirements that have nothing to do with it. For example it is obvious that a painting is going to be confined by the properties and limitations of the paint itself. To say, for example, that it must be “religious” in nature is to add a secondary requirement to it. There was a time in human history when Art was defined that way. To say that only “landscapes” are art, is to also place limits on it. For me the best art is that which has the fewest secondary constraints.
But I digress from the focus of this post. I thought I would share a photo of an indoor stairwell barrier railing that was another attempt at confusing art with the functional requirements of what a barrier railing is all about. While it is “attractive”—-it can hardly be considered “functional” at all.
To me this railing looks more like something a kid would want to climb on—much like something they would find at a playground.
I would contrast this barrier railing with one that is more than 80 years old and meets all current requirements and is attractive as well. And, while I would not consider it art at all, I would say that it demonstrates very nice craftsmanship and does what it is supposed to do—-be a barrier.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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