Call me a bore but less is more…
Surprisingly, I came across this ship for the first time today. The Vasa was a 17th century Swedish warship and the photo above captured my attention with all its incredibly detailed carpentry and sculptures. Much as I could admire such work I began to wonder why on earth would they put such artistic effort into not just a ship but a warship!
Then I learned that it sank on its maiden voyage just a few kilometers out from its Stockholm harbour. Blown over by a mild gust of wind in front of thousands of spectators and dignitaries. Two years of work by hundreds of craftsmen and artisans vanished from sight before it had even reached the sea proper.
You do have to wonder how such a thing could happen to a ship that was presumably designed to not just do battle in warfare but also withstand the extreme elements of weather at sea. As it turns out it was badly designed and most of the fault must lie with the Swedish King Adolphus who for his own glory presumably wanted an over designed ostentatious flagship, which proved to be top heavy. With the centre of gravity being too high due to the elaborate sterncastle and all gun ports open during its maiden voyage, it only needed to roll slightly for water to enter the open gun ports and that is exactly what happened.
Such a traumatic event must have had an effect on the Swedish psyche from that point on and may well account for Swedish minimalism in design today. A philosophy of which I am an adherent to somewhat. It could almost be compared to Sweden’s Titanic disaster but with thankfully less loss of life. Whatever, I think it is a good example of what happens when artists work for war mongers and those in high places flaunt their excesses to the world.
As it is we are lucky, generations later, to be left with one of the most spectacular works of craftsmanship that under normal circumstances would have probably been burned and sunk without trace in some European sea battle.
I suspect we are now entering the true age of minimalism to combat the climate crisis and probably not before time.