Monday, June 5, 2017

Grape Scissors

In a moment of uncharacteristically conscious folly, my partner and I decided that our lives would not be complete until we owned a pair of grape scissors. The silver-plated gizmo is designed to cut just the right-sized personal cluster of grapes off a bunch on a serving dish. Not surprisingly, we found grape scissors at a good price in an antique store in Victoria, B.C. Demand did not seem to be very high. I tucked the scissors into a storage chest and used them now and then, always wondering why I had bothered in the first place. I didn't understand their styling, that whiffed of pretense.

A couple of weeks ago, Pard brought home a couple of especially dense clusters of grapes. Accustomed to using two hands to detach a serving, I found that the scissors are designed to cut and hold their quarry like flower pruners, allowing one-handed retrieval. The design is pure function intended to support graceful upper body gestures at the table. The spurs on the handles give physical advantage to the grip, and the flaring blunted blades allow stealthy access to hidden stems. No more living like an animal, at least for the moment. 

Economist and tool purveyor Paul Hawken extolled the advantages of what he called intelligence in product design. His Next Economy discusses industrial design and the nature of money. Hawken maintains that the price of a barrel of oil is the real currency, or was in 1983. Steve Jobs showed the world what intelligence can do coupled with electricity. The grape scissors and other designs of the late nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries demonstrate the energy advantages built into the human body. A traditionally designed sharp hand tool is often faster to use, cheaper, and easier to store than a higher tech alternative -30-

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