When Bad Design Happens to Good People (at long last)

  • December 17, 2008 6:34 pm

So why does it happen?  You’re really sophisticated; you have great friends, you like good food, you buy nice clothes, what’s the problem?  It’s not personal!  Design is a combination of talent and knowhow, and I’m not at all sure in what order or emphasis.  To design is to break down the universe into patterns, textures, colors, and mass.  I do think there’s a huge spatial component that is innate;  good designers actually feel space-that makes it easy for them to understand  patterns and mass.  Textures and colors are something that I think people can be trained to think about, see, feel and play with.

Good design, to me, is all about the working with the modulation of various elements.  For instance, understanding how large furniture needs to be in a room, the rightness of it.  Interesting design is when you you can manipulate the elements so they are pleasing and then  push them around to make something unexpected, or personal, or new. 

As with any of the arts, and I do believe that designing can be counted as one, you need to know the classics of the discipline; a painter needs to know art history from the very beginning to have to references be second nature.  No design is brand new.  There are always elements taken from before and recombined with new ideas.  But design looks dry and hollow if it’s used without a knowledge of its past links.  Palladian  Windows in McMansion construction look ridiculous (and sound pretentious)  if used out of context of Palladio’s original intention to create an architectural tempo.

From what I’ve seen, bad design happens to all these nice people because people think that creating a comfortable home is something that should come naturally.  Particularly now, when there’s all this self help in the form of cable shows and shelter magazine, homeowners must feel they have all the tools they need.

But they dont’!  They’re not professionals.  If you have a legal problem, would you consider handling it yourself?  Probably not.  A medical problem?  A plumbing problem? 

I rest my case….

Finger in the wind

  • December 17, 2008 2:44 pm

A couple of nights ago a friend asked me what I thought the new design trends were.  There’s a definitely interesting color scheme we’ll be seeing more of in fashion: pale pink or a color I’d call “face powder” with or without the accent of black.  I think of these pink colors as being predominant in the 1920’s or 30’s, the colors of lingerie and also boudoirs.  Years ago I collected many articles of clothing like dance pants and also bedspreads all made of silk in those beautiful pinks with a faint yellowish cast, the color of seashells.  You noticed it again in the 70’s when those fascinating hard to describe colors were around, misty mauves and strange pale greens.  Remember Sarah Moon’s photographs???  And now it’s creeping in again.  I wonder how interior designers are going to use it.  It’s not the bright blueish pinks we’ve been seeing over the past few years.

I also see a continuation of exagerated effects.  Lots of design is big, really big.  Look at all the wonderful costume jewelry around.  Sculptural looks to clothing with large silhouettes.  And I wonder if with the sudden consciousness of our over indulgence of the last few years we start seeing things in miniature:  small-scale prints, smaller furniture, slim silhouettes in clothing, marshal-scaled design.

I’m sure we’ll be seeing more somber colors, something befitting the global, hunker-down mood.

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Visit Victoria Klein's site at victoriaklein.com

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