The Classic Question
Who, or what, defines a classic is a source of great curiosity. And has been the subject of everything from heated family discussions around the dinner table to deep philosophical debates with scholars from the finest institutions of the world.
It is, of course, a matter of great subjectivity.
Is it even possible to define?
What is a classic to one person is often seen in a wholly different light to another, and much like design, art or colour, it’s an individual’s experience that defines it.
You don’t have to stray far away from the word ‘classic’ before you stumble on the Jaguar E-type: a car so iconic that it almost set the standard for the term ‘classic’, and which has long been seen as the epitome of cool.
It is easy to appreciate its lines and form, and how it took thinking in a new direction.
To others, however, the term ‘classic’ may equally fall on the axles of the Citroën 2CV. Less obviously cool, maybe, but as it was developed to support agrarian communities in post-war France, it is a classic of a different type.
Both are very different, but their uniqueness, originality and bold ideas set minds racing.
And it’s often in racing that new ideas emerge, such as the first helmets to be worn by ski racers in the 1960’s, which were developed out of a need for safety rather than any consideration for form, but nevertheless established a new idea and aesthetic.
Today’s classic ski racing helmets, such as POC’s Skull, all share a heritage with the early pioneers of ski racing, and they have gone on to craft their own ideas.
Crammed with performance, technology and safety, modern helmets may share lines with the past, but they represent a different future, be it with dual density layers, electronic integration, or precise adjustment systems.
But they also share an important, and possibly the essential, detail with any ‘classic’. That is, a vision for others to follow is seldom seen instantaneously but takes some reflection and time to penetrate. Like an ageing wine, layers of literature or an intricate album, it often takes time to get the best from them.
They grow and influence you.
In the end a familiarity and vision emerge from intensely complex foundations, hard to grasp, yet which always make complete sense.
It could be like the Meninx, a new ski helmet which has been inspired by those that have come before it, but representing the future as it overflows with technical details.
And a new way of thinking.
Not a classic.