The installation better living through levity TM (BLTL) was installed October 20-21, 2012 in a former office space among artists selling their wares at Boston’s annual Fort Point Open Studios. The installation occupied a 12’x10’ office with two aluminum framed glass walls, a glass door and two white walls.
BLTL, a non-existent company, is intended to appear as a spin off or sub-brand of my studio. The company’s mission is to “help make your life better through design that provides comfort and happiness.” Products range from the somatic shift dress with an inflatable neckline that puts warmth and pressure around your chest to the pa wristlets, personal inflatable bags to combat panic attacks. All are intended to make “[you] feel happier, relaxed and just plain lighter”.
The products are designed to appeal specifically to women ages 35-55 suffering from anxiety. (The high-profile career woman and stay-at-home urban mom are my target demos.) Great care is taken to make the stitching look as professional as possible. Colors are chosen from the bright Pantone palette that one might find on a designers desk (or in MoMA store products) and humor is employed in product-use instructions written on oversized tags. They let the customer know “its ok to panic”.
The joke of BLTL is on us. We create our own stress. And we can decide how we cope with it. We don’t need a straw in a bag to make us live better. Even if it looks kinda neat.
The products in BLTL were not for sale. But by situating BLTL in the middle of a commerce-driven atmosphere I presented a gray area, and for those not familiar with installations, a complex environment to navigate. Some didn’t even enter in the door. One young man joked, “What, you’re too big-time to sell?” And even after acknowledging the joke, a few people wanted to buy the wristlets anyway, as gag gifts. This is where the installation got interesting for me. BLTL is a commentary on better living through design and on the multitude of products we don’t need.
Yet we still need.
Do you need a thing on your wrist to remember to breathe deeply? I hope not. Do you need art to live a better life? That depends on how you define living.