“(Islamic culture), as expressed in art exalts unity in variety; the bringing of many brilliant, unlike parts together to create an even more brilliant whole. Harmony in tension is the goal.”

- Holland Cotter on an exhibit of Ottoman Textiles
NY Times, 7/16/2004

“Nostalgia is a very complicated subject for me, I’m attracted by nostalgia but I refuse it intellectually. It interests me to be modern, and so I refuse nostalgia, but still I have it. So you see contradictions and oppositions are maybe what makes the work contemporary, because nowadays we are all composed of opposites.”

- Miruccia Prada in “The Age of Prada”, Guy Trebay

Prada suggests that the process of refining the contradictory elements that inspire us is something that defines modernity. For any artist or designer the act of resisting what’s merely seductive or comfortable, tweaking that through your personal lens and adding in the torrents of received stimulate is exactly that process. And as for any art there’s that element in the mix- the alchemy that projects a shape or form we’re ALMOST ready to see, something recognized in the collective consciousness, something comforting, yet new.

Late 20th century decorating seems to be characterized by the style of the Mix. We’re in lockstep with fashion and music with that. No one always wears the same length skirt anymore, ditto the matching shoes and handbags, and the word mix defines what we have on our Ipods. We’ve been experimenting with full-blown nostalgia while jumbling it with a Pantoned modernity and the onslaught of goods from the World gallery. We love soft luxurious things, worship collections, but dream of stylized empty-feeling rooms, a mirage for the best of us.

I have no doubt that this particular teeter-totter of opposites may be giving way to a new synthesis of elements. My finger to the wind is not giving me many signals right now: the riot of enormous floral patterns and brilliant colors is just a blip heading towards oblivion. Super-sized Baroque patterns can only have a limited shelf life. But maybe they’re easing our eyes towards other distortions of scale. Stay tuned.

When Bad Taste Happens to Good People