A surprising (to me) forty seven days ago, I wrote "back soon" at the head of the blog and here I am at the end of summer, after a four-week bout of bronchitis and an outbreak of shingles that I, at first, thought were multiple spider bites from walking Barny in the trees surrounding the duckpond. There's been a lot of time to give thought to … well, just stuff like a new bathroom, redecorating the living room, sending the carpet to be cleaned of whippet tracks, life, love and happiness, and what seems to be the senescence of blogging and the success of its peregrinating and bewitching kin, Instagram.
As I coughed my way through the awful humidity and the noise of construction seemingly as endemic and unceasing as that of insects and traffic, Barny chomped on dried duck poop (not eaten in this family, as I reminded him, for generations), and held relentlessly, if variably, to his food-in-food-out regime every couple of hours, drivers halted for ducks at crossings, some lowering their windows to remark "what a pretty pup," or "what kind of dog is that?" joggers ran, friends died or got sick, dogs and their owners said hello, and, one day, the heron, often to be seen at the pond, took magnificent flight, circled and landed high atop the trees over the crossroads.
Out of sorts and worn out during those weeks, I had plenty of time to read and it quickly became clear I was wasting my time with most interior decorating blogs – unless, that is, I was looking for the same sort of information available to me more quickly and interestingly elsewhere. Magazines advertorial does a better job than ever a blog could, whatever the aspirations the blogger may have.
Whereas the overriding tenor of interior design blogland is breathlessly sycophantic, in my opinion, the aesthetic is even worse. Who any longer has any taste other than to endorse a celebrity "design" collaboration? Frankly, if I were to judge by many of the blogs I read, I would say that fashion plays an exclusionary role and conformity rules the day. Some of us rue the day because the implications of this for design, decoration and the environment are appalling.
We do not own any mid-century-modern furniture except a Paul Dunbar bench in the hall and, given the ridiculous prices ($65,000 to-the-trade for a high-backed winged-chair, 1939), its fashionability and copious quantity, it is unlikely we shall have any more of it. It is not just mid-century-modern's popularity that puts me off it – so contrary I'm not – but the rage for it makes me think of a bubble, given that there must have been so much of it manufactured.
Haute couture has its original designers but American (perhaps also European) interior decoration design has been usurped by salesmen and the auction houses. I am of the opinion that whatever the PR people might like us to believe haute décoration, or the knowledge of what residential interior design actually is, has been reduced to nothing more than the marketing of personalities and their wares. Never mind the quality, feel the width.With all that in mind, I'm turning for a while to Europe to see what is going on there. I have a feeling, and it might be nothing more than bias, that the situation there is a little more loose, more original, less hidebound. As I say, I might be biased but, either way, I could learn a lot – I'm so over being bored.
I've already mentioned architect/interior designer Chester Jones five times and he remains my favorite of the designers working in Britain today, thus I do not intend to exclude him in future. Geoffrey Bennison, though long-dead, is also a firm favorite and his work remains utterly up-to-date and is for all to see in Gillian Newberry's excellent book Geoffrey Bennison: Master Decorator (in its second printing). The work of Mlinaric Henry & Zervudachi is pretty terrific as is the work of Tino Zervudachi in his own right. Jean-Louis Denoit, Alberto Pinto, Christian Liagre come to mind but they are all the subject of monographs – it may be that I'm limited to those books alone. We'll see.
The photograph of Barnaby Warboys asleep against my leg as I rest my back on the sofa is about the way a four-month-old whippet pup erupted into
This photograph and accessories are the subject of the next post – unless the creek rises, that is.