Friday, September 26, 2008

Kingdom, phylum, class, order

Where does exquisite letterpress fall in the taxonomy of cute? I've long felt the need to come up with a workable classification system for the vast world of cute, if only to get things straight in my own mind. But why do it myself, when I can cut and paste from Wikipedia—a graphic that explains the hierarchy of biological classification, plus a surprising definition of cuteness—and end up with something that looks almost scientific:
Cuteness is a kind of attractiveness commonly associated with youth and appearance, as well as a scientific concept and analytical model in ethology, first introduced by Konrad Lorenz. It is usually characterized by (though not limited to) some combination of infant-like physical traits, especially small body size with a disproportionately large head, large eyes, a small nose, dimples, and round and softer body features. Infantile personality traits, such as playfulness, fragility, helplessness, curiosity, innocence, affectionate behavior and a need to be nurtured are also generally considered cute.

Konrad Lorenz argued in 1949 that infantile features triggered nurturing responses in adults and that this was an evolutionary adaptation which helped ensure that adults cared for their children, ultimately securing the survival of the species.

I promise to work out a real system of my own very soon. But, whatever their ultimate classification, the letterpress cards made by Product Superior definitely fall somewhere in the kingdom cute:

The company's online shop is breathtaking, but apparently not open for business yet; for now, buy cards and paper goods through their Etsy shop. (via Design Sponge)

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