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E R G O | Journal of Organizational Storytelling

Volume 1 . Issue 1 . 2016

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The Materiality Issue

Welcome to the inaugural issue of ERGO. The theme of this issue is what we call Materiality.

When we say material, what do we mean? Obviously, one thing we mean is stuff. Things. Substances.  The blood and the fascia, the sweat and tears, the ties and nails and papers and plants and animals and minerals from which our environments are built, and sometimes imposed on us without any say on our part. This type of material is touchable. Tactile. It can feel good. It can hurt. It can reveal or conceal.

Storytellers mine their networks for a different kind of material: characters, scenarios, experiences and events they can commercialize, or make visible for some other purpose. To a journalist, a war presents a material-rich environment. To a comedian, a politician does. The storyteller  generates this type of material through observation and intention.

Another meaning of material is what matters. Specifically what matters when, where and how? The quantum storytellers call this ‘spacetimemattering.’ Things matter differently in different contexts. What is germane, and available for processing when we need it?–in other words, ‘material’ to the situation in which we find ourselves? What matters to bodybuilders is muscle. What matters to bankers is money. The lives of the poor can be shaped by water. Religion matters to a lot of people. Their stories cannot be separated from their belief systems.

Blacksmiths refer to certain tools used in their smithing as  ‘ready-to-hand.’ That means a tool is where it’s needed, when it’s needed, for the purpose it’s needed. The connection between a piece of white-hot iron fresh from the fire, a proper hammer, and the smith’s intentions toward the future of that piece of iron, is said to be material.

The new fashion brand Ikiré Jones blows up the concept of materiality and incorporates it into all aspects of the brand. Its cofounder and CEO, Walé Oyéjidé, creates a series of Afro-Futurist sci-fi stories, then he and team delve into those stories for design inspiration, guiding principles, and social relevance—which, in turn, are reflected in the product and brand.

I haven’t worn anything Ikiré Jones yet (though I have my eye on that jacket from the Escape from New Lagos story) so this is me guessing:  When a person dons an item of Ikiré Jones apparel, one isn’t just donning a piece of tailored cloth. One is wearing one’s connection to a story. Demonstrating one’s place in the future, and what it will take to bring it about. One is wearing one’s materiality.

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