How about in context?
Though I hugely appreciate that the nameplate on this fireplace subverts the normative “name part of Wash. U. after you AND your wife so it doesn’t seem vain” and “name part of Wash. U. after someone less significant than you and say it’s donated for THEM” stuff-naming paradigms, the thing is also demonstrative of the fact that form can’t be separated from content (well known by most of the initiated) and the claim that most humans sans design training or an aesthetic mentality entirely miss this fact (a more novel claim).
I.e., whoever commissioned this nameplate—was it Peter himself? his adoring wife years after his death? a wealthy English professor commemorating a fictional character?—made the common mistake of thinking that everyone else knew what s/he was thinking. But they don’t. The question becomes, in the lack of indicative formatting: is this the “Peter Great Fireplace”? The “Great Fireplace” named in memory of Peter? Is the fireplace simply name “Peter” and captioned?
The fireplace itself—though great in size–actually loses its ability to become great in legacy because of the awkwardness of the physical design of its nameplate. People will hesitate to call it the “Great Fireplace” for fear of slighting Peter. But “Peter Great Fireplace” sounds so misguided. People therefore hesitate to name it in speech and in print, however consciously Wash. U. tries to give the investor his/her money’s worth. The “Great Fireplace” becomes a solely visual icon, and fails to establish for itself a succint and stable linguistic concept.
The secondary moral is that a design fault of which form/content mutual destruction is an example can have effects far beyond the merely aesthetic. The Wash. U. community loses a name for a primary structure in a primary building. Peter’s legacy is relegated to the musings of the lone kid who purposefully pays attention to deviant design. Barack Obama wins the presidency by way of superb branding (that’s how everyone else wins—why shouldn’t he?).
On a personal note, I like the ambiguity of the nameplate. It’s literary: no easy solutions. I like to believe that the dedicator meant it that way.
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