Coolhunting and Rapha agree, bicycle lugs are all the rage. Yet an even higher authority than these two great bastions of our culture, has been telling us to articulate joints for thousands of years now. I am referring of course to our dear lady architecture, wise old teacher she is.
Consider the lotus flower and lotus bud capitals of ancient Egyptian temples. The Greeks saw these and were impressed, so articulated the meeting between post and lintel in their temples, with volutes or acanthus leaf patterns. Thanks to Alexander the Great, the Greeks’ fondness for column capitals would spread all the way to Northern India, where they have remained key to the Eastern architectural tradition. Building in timber, the Chinese could not let the moment pass, to celebrate the meeting of column and beam; their unique contribution to this tradition being the dougong, that I guess as kids we figured out for ourselves using Cuisenaire rods.
However, given what I have just outlined is more or less a Classical tradition, it does puzzle one to find tastes in lug carving have become so frightfully Gothic, as these pictures attest. I took them this afternoon, so the team currently developing my website might have some pictures to work with. If these lugs are not Gothic, then I’m afraid Robert Smith isn’t either, nor is a Rock Eisteddfod load of emos with fresh bloody piercings. I mean, these are well Gothic lugs, in’it yo, don’t you agree? To my mind, this suggests diverging paths in lug work design. Either frame makers could look back to the canonical churches of England and France, churches like San Denis (pictured right), and have a close look at the tops of the columns—trefoils and quatrefoils might both enjoy comebacks. Alternatively, we might see volutes or acanthus leaf patterns and a whole new style of self consciously Classical lug work. I’m surprised no Italian has thought to do that!
These last images I leave as a plea, of sorts, to makers of decorative lugs. Come on guys: some acanthus leaves, please!