05 September 2009

On Character And Soul In Design, Part 02.

Read Part 01.

Although the shabby-chic movement has gained some popularity as vintage has made the mainstream, people are incorporating cleaner, more modern design elements into their homes. Personally I'm all for updating the look of your living room, etc. as I'm a huge fan of contemporary furniture.  All the hosts on HGTV speak gospel: Even just one or two well-placed pieces can transform a space.

A big problem I've seen with this, however, is overdoing the look.  Yes, it's good to have the majority of your pieces match and decluttering is never a bad idea, but this post on Apartment Therapy and the resulting comments gave me some food for thought. AT showcased rooms from the homes of two leading fashion icons, Tom Ford (Gucci) and Karl Lagerfield (Chanel). Interestingly, as many people disliked the layouts and design choices by either/both as there were supporters of their respective styles.  What do you think?

There were several comments on how each space seemed "superficial", "all show, no depth", "cold", "staged", "wanky" (haha) and "soulless". I lingered on that last adjective a bit longer.


That's a scary word ... even scarier when you apply it to how your living room looks *shudder*.  I would assume that one cardinal rule of decorating and design is to individualize the space -- give it some of your personality.  Yes, DWR showrooms can look pretty damn awesome, but those are meant to appeal to the broadest possible population of savvy furniture-shoppers.  And frankly, they lack any kind of individual appeal.  They look "staged", unlived-in (is that a word?), and muted, much like the homes of the two designers above.  Soulless.

So how do you strike a balance between impersonal sterility and gaudy tackiness -- and still be able to win design contests on Apartment Therapy?

The answer, my modern-minded friend, is restraint. Part Three is coming soon.

The first tip to get you started: A plant or two might help liven up the place a little.  Seriously though, bamboo shoots from IKEA are $2 each and are pretty much impossible to kill. Trust me -- I've tried.

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