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Why does a streetlight have to look like a streetlight?

From an early age we’re swamped with visual representations of how things ‘should’ look. When asked to draw a home in a few simple lines we draw a square with a triangle on top, a door smack bang in the middle and four windows either side.

Everyday we come in contact with all sorts of visual media, which leads us to stereotypes and going with what we see rather than (dare I say it) thinking outside the box.

That’s why working and holidaying aboard can be so refreshing. It shakes up your visual perspective and opens your mind to interpretation.

I’ve just come back from Copenhagen and it got me thinking. If a Danish child were asked to draw a home what would they draw? With a huge percentage living in flats would they still be influenced to believe a home consists of a roof and four windows?

And what about streetlights? Every time I’ve ever drawn a street I’ve drawn traditional street lamps. You know the ones every few metres along a pavement, very tall and have a light on

an arm leaning out over the road?

Well, they’d be considered very peculiar in Copenhagen. Like everything else Danish, their streetlights are stylishly pulled taught by a cluster of wires hanging over the middle of their roads. No tall uprights to run, walk or cycle into, just practical lighting.

Their play areas are imaginative. Wooden dragons, sunken ships, hamster style wheels, crooked playhouses – and the best bit? They’re all made from wood. No metal climbing frames to be seen. The children make their own adventures up, fighting off mythical creatures before stumbling across a small village that doesn’t seem to know which way up is.

And to show my nosy side. Walking around a city just as the sun is going down and the streetlights are turning on, I can’t help but glance into people’s front rooms.

Here I was pleasantly surprised.

In England we’re great at stereotyping - picture an eighty year old couple and what surroundings they’d be in. Now scratch that and imagine an incredibly stylish Scandi home. A lot of things painted or decorated in white, designer chairs by Hans J. Wegner and a happy eighty year old couple – bliss.

How this helps me? Not only does it refresh my imagination memory bank, but it allows me to push my creativity further. It removes me from my normal day-to-day English life and it educates me with design, new language and most importantly, things don’t always have to look like they’re ‘meant’ to.

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Town Mouse Country Mouse
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