Hiten Samtani's Reviews > Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Football

Brilliant Orange by David Winner
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's review
Oct 28, 10

really liked it
Read in December, 2009

I'm reading David Winner’s brilliant ‘Brilliant Orange’, a look at the development of Dutch football (soccer) through the wider lens of national culture.

Via the awesome Culture of Soccer :

Winner claims that “space is the unique defining element of Dutch football. Other nations and football cultures may have produced greater goalscorers, more dazzling individual ball-artists, and more dependable and efficient tournament-winning teams. But no one has ever imagined or structured their play as abstractly, as architecturally, in such a measured fashion as the Dutch.”

Total Football exemplifies the Dutch conception of space. It was “a conceptual revolution based on the idea that the size of any football field was flexible and could be altered by the team playing on it”

Of course, the size of a football field is not flexible. Winner attributes this mentality to the land the Dutch have been given. A small, low-lying country with a long sea coast and a relatively large population, the Dutch have in fact expanded their land through the use of polders and other elaborate water control measures. Winner sees spillover of Dutch attitudes toward land into Dutch soccer. He calls the Dutch “spatial neurotics” and says that “the Dutch think innovatively, creatively and abstractly about space in their football because for centuries they have had to think innovatively about space in every other area of their lives”

The best design flows naturally out of need. Utility triumphs over glamor, every time. Okay, most times :)

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