Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mediocrity Within Reach

The above quote adorns the entryway of a Design Within Reach store in a neighborhood I frequent. Who is this Sebastian J. Barbarito? A Google search turns up only a few instances of the same quote. There is no other trace of this person.

Seeing this, I thought of a remark attributed to the architect Mies van der Rohe: “God is in the details.” The Barbarito quote could be Mies re-processed by a management consultant.

Note that the Barbarito can, strictly speaking, be read two ways. It might mean that attention to detail is a path to mediocrity! And that’s even true: people often miss the big picture.

Also note, in the picture above, that “Sebastian” is misspelled. So Mies was right—the God of Laughter stopped by.


Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Sebastian Joseph Barbarito III. My father made that quote. I was recently searching his name to show a friend that my father made a quote that is posted on the internet. I came across this website and wanted to let you know that I can be reached at Thank you for your time.

Bob said...

In response to an email from me, Sebastian J. Barbarito III has further informed me that his father is a chemical engineer for DuPont and lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He described his father as a perfectionist who often makes the statement that was quoted by Design Within Reach. Attention to detail makes great sense in an engineering context.