Friday, December 5, 2014

I wonder, just what is it that makes today's homes so different and so appealing?

I'm getting rid of a lot of books about interiors ... not so much books about design, rather books about decorating and decorators I hadn't looked at from one year's end to the next. I thought one day as I went to get a book from the shelves, that the differences between the decorators are mostly superficial – this one uses color, that one does not, etc – and that all of them, be they "traditional" or "contemporary" decorators, work within the narrow confines of Romanticism. Nostalgia for an apocryphal society and worship of a counterfeit glitterati has led, finally, to nothing more than a fool's paradise of branding by tastemakers who, seemingly, do not need any talent beyond self-aggrandizement.

It really is quite remarkable how little there is to differentiate these decorators, despite protestations to the contrary on covers and in blurbs, one from the other. Two wine shipping boxes full of these books are now gone into the hands of someone who may learn from them. 

I'm co-opting Richard Hamilton's 1956 collage title as my own because it is the perfect question to ask about today's homes: just what is it that makes today's homes so different and so appealing?

For me, and I do realise I'm on the verge of becoming a crosspatch about decorating, there's very little that makes today's homes either so different or so appealing. It's thanks to interior designers like Chester Jones, Tino Zervudachi, the late David Collins, Terry Hunziker, and, in his own quiet way, David Kleinberg, that I don't feel totally discouraged by the mediocrity that has taken over the industry, the salesrooms, the auction houses, the publishing houses and the blogosphere. I'm almost there; total discouragement, that is.

What troubles me the most is the way design has been supplanted by branding. Look at the following quotation from the Aerin Lauder dissertation on the Lee Jofa website – Lee Jofa being one of a number of companies in interior design that have used celebrity as a marketing tool. I think the quotation explains clearly the modern process of creating a "designer collection."

"Developed through a combination of original design and interpretation of Lee Jofa’s extensive archives, several pieces in the collection demonstrate Lauder’s love for natural elements, from birds to florals. The classic, yet modern, color range includes rich, vibrant reds, soothing forest greens, beautiful blues, and strong, timeless neutrals."

I make no comment on Lauder, her products, or those of any other "designer" but when an industry in its entirety gives itself into the hands of brand creators, fashion marketers and licensers then a fundamental  break with the history of design has been made. Quite why I should be so unamused by all this is inexplicable, for it isn't as if this is a new process: it was in the 1960s that the French couturier began a system of licenses that he applied to fashion, and it was he that first displayed a logo on clothing.

I think this might well be my last post. I have had a good long run and met some good people along the way and have never met with negativity. Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It's time.