January 29, 2018

Death and the dyslexic furniture maker.

I'm reading 2 obituaries in the NYT this morning. The 2 men — both in the furniture business — are very different, but both were dyslexic.

1."Wendell Castle, the whimsical designer who coaxed wood into weird, mind-bending shapes that blurred the boundary between serviceable furniture and fine art, died on Jan. 20 at his home in Scottsville, N.Y., near Rochester. He was 85."
His sinuous, biomorphic chairs, tables, desks, pianos, clocks and vanities, which resembled giant teeth, a human tongue, elephants’ feet and human forms, started as freestyle drawings on rag paper. They morphed into urethane foam models that were laser-scanned by computer, sculpted in slices by a 5,000-pound room-size robot and finished by hand with chisels, sanders and other tools.

“Wood, I realized, could be shaped and formed and carved in ways limited only by my imagination,” Mr. Castle once said....

Wendell, who was dyslexic, struggled in school. “I was not good at anything,” he said. “The only exceptions were drawing and daydreaming, neither of which were valued.”...

“If there was any continuity and logic in there, I wanted to throw that out of whack,” he told City Newspaper of Rochester in 2016. “There is no reason.”
2. "Ingvar Kamprad, a Swedish entrepreneur who hid his fascist past and became one of the world’s richest men by turning simply-designed, low-cost furniture into the global Ikea empire, died on Saturday at his home in Smaland, Sweden. He was 91."
He grew up on a farm in the lake-dotted province of Smaland, in southern Sweden, a dyslexic boy who milked cows and found it hard to concentrate in school. His family was poor, and he earned money selling matches and pencils in villages. At 17, he registered his mail-order business in household goods, calling it Ikea, formed of his initials and those of his farm, Elmtaryd, and village, Agunnaryd....

All his life, Mr. Kamprad practiced thrift and diligence, and he portrayed those traits as the basis for Ikea’s success....

He sought to control his work force, too. In 1976, he wrote a manifesto, “The Testament of a Furniture Dealer,” with biblical-style commandments listing simplicity as a virtue and waste as a sin. Employees were expected to absorb “the Ikea spirit,” to be humble, clean-cut and courteous, not just knowledgeable about Ikea’s products but enthusiastic about its corporate ideology — principles to work and live by....

While he lived mostly in seclusion, he traveled to Ikea stores around the world, sometimes strolling in anonymously and questioning employees as if he were a customer, and customers as if he were a solicitous employee....

28 comments:

John Lynch said...

How much of a fascist past can you have if you are born in 1927? Or was it 1926?

TerriW said...

I have a dyslexic boy who makes amazing, creative things out of any random material, junk, *garbage* at hand, but still thinks he's stupid, and he will not be dissuaded.

John Lynch said...

Ah, while he was a teenager during the war. I see a lot of college students wearing Che Guevera shirts. Just saying.

rhhardin said...

The small 4-shelf free-standing gray metal LERBERG ($14.99) was very nice for holding 4 laptops, though you have to put them crosswise. Very tiny floor footprint, is the point.

Curious George said...

" At 17, he registered his mail-order business in household goods, calling it Ikea, formed of his initials and those of his farm, Elmtaryd, and village, Agunnaryd...."

It would have been been funny if he ended up naming it Aeik.

traditionalguy said...

Sweden said it was neutral and used that as their cover story to supply the Wermacht and Krupps with iron ore to used by Nazi owned slave laborers in steel for making the thousands of Panzer Tanks used for slaughtering American soldiers confronting them in nearly unarmoured and under-gunned Shermans, all done without a risk of meeting the Eighth Airforce.

Who cares if the Nazi loving asshole could not read.

Michael K said...

Sweden was an ally of Germany until the 8th Air Force got long range fighters and began to destroy the industrial base.

Then they got very neutral. A lot of crippled B 17s flew to Sweden if they could not make it to England. They were interned but treatment got much improved by 1944.

Big Mike said...

My basement is full of IKEA shelving.

Birkel said...

Those defective boys should have been put on drugs and "cured" of their defects, namely, not acting sufficiently like girls do, on average.

/sarc

Big Mike said...

@traditionalguy, the Swiss were worse in some respects. They flew Messerschmidt Bf109 fighters and shot down damaged bombers that tried to seek asylum in Switzerland after being too damaged to return home from a raid.

Curious George said...

Poor Donna.

EDH said...

"Artist, dreamer, finder, seeker, maker of driftwood things..."

Len Tukwilla, Driftwood Sculptor

Humperdink said...

From the Wendell Castle link: "“I thought of the work as sculpture, not furniture,”

Reminds of the Frank Lloyd Wright house Fallingwater in SW PA. Wright decided to design the furniture, along with the house. A lot of the furniture is built-in. Comfort was not part of the thought process.

madAsHell said...

principles to work and live by....

While he lived mostly in seclusion,


Rules for thee, but not for me.

Gahrie said...

People who have trouble with words make their living with their hands.

BDNYC said...

I read that the Swede was influenced by his German grandmother who adored Hitler. Of course, Sweden itself was practically a German ally during the war. Much like the Swiss, their neutrality was not so cruel as Althouse’s. Their neutrality was more like the MSM’s professed neutrality in reporting on politics.

I also read that he corresponded with and supported the most prominent fascist leader in Sweden into the 1950’s.

Robt C said...

So the IKEA guy was dyslexic? That explains their product names.

BDNYC said...

Having recently purchases some glorified cardboard furniture, I am zero percent surprised that IKEA was founded by a Nazi. The layout of every IKEA is a masterpiece in fascist thinking. No shopper is allowed to chart their own path. You MUST see every department in the store before you check out. To show you they have some compassion, they will allow the most impatient shoppers one or two shortcuts that save them almost no time. They are still obeying signs and arrows, and they still must see almost everything.

The whole experience is soul crushing. By the end you hate yourself because you acted like a good little sheep and you didn't complain.

AllenS said...

IKEA Job Interview --

LINK TEXT

jaydub said...

I used to do business as a supplier for IKEA. Their headquarters in Sweden is still in Almhult and it's run like a CIA facility cum monastery - very secretive with controlled access to anywhere above the first floor meeting rooms and furnished like a prison. They even have an on-site hotel (one star, reportedly bugged) where they insist their suppliers and employees from out of town stay. The majority of the middle management was very young - mostly late twenties and thirties - and tightly controlled (we all called IKEA the teenage company.) They have a code of conduct they call "the Ikea Way" that they required suppliers to follow - very NAZI-like and with bizarre inspection requirements and certifications. They assume their suppliers mistreat their employees unless monitored and the teenager in charge of my area even told me I had to guarantee I didn't use slave labor, so I told her my slaves were non-negotiable just to see her reaction. They squeezed their suppliers worse than Walmart does, but unlike Walmart they had very poor volume projections and extremely short lead times, forcing their suppliers to hold large amounts of inventory that they would make obsolete with a line change at the drop of a hat. I put up with their BS for a couple of years, then convinced a competitor to take the business. He still isn't speaking to me.

iowan2 said...

You know what they say.

If life gives you melons, you might be dyslexic.

AllenS said...

The more I learn about IKEA, the more they look like Scientologists.

Curious George said...

"AllenS said...
The more I learn about IKEA, the more they look like Scientologists."

Ha ,but they're just crazy mothers in general....they eat this shit.

n.n said...

Kamprad, a leftist exposed. Capital or control?

Bay Area Guy said...

Am too I dyslexic

Levi Starks said...

Wendell’s work is great, but I think his greatest accomplishment was figuring out how liv his life doing what he loved, instead of what someone else wanted him to do.

MadTownGuy said...

In this episode of Corner Gas, an assemble-it-yourself hutch is aptly described as a Swedish headache in a box.

Gordon Scott said...

I think the Swedes in general have a massive guilt complex about their cooperation with Germany in WW II. Of course, had they not cooperated, Germany would have invaded. They needed that iron.

I think this has quite a bit to do with Sweden's see-no-evil response to the invasion of asylum seekers. It is much worse to be seen as not wonderfully multicultural than to suffer some rapes and murders.

It is interesting that they seem to be adopting the Norwegian approach. The Norskis are exporting the criminals back to where they came from, although you won't see anyone in the government talking about it. Sweden's PM seems to be heading in that direction; we'll go on pretending there's no problem at all, but we may have to call out the army....