Culture is like a rubber band. When pulled too far one way, it over-corrects, snapping back past the ideal and far into the opposing direction. For a while it seemed like minimalism was king. I’d flip through a magazine and find houses that could scarcely be called homes. All stark white walls, concrete floors, clean lines, bare bones. For the past several years, it’s been much the opposite, with trendsetters doing pattern on pattern on pattern. It has to be arabesque, embroidered, mixed textures, just layers of visual interest. I believe there’s a happy medium. Ornate and simple are both beautiful, and obviously design is a deeply personal expression, but it seems a mixture of both would be a natural fit for most. Somewhere along the line, I think the beauty got lost in the shuffle. Intricate designs, rich fabrics, and a sense of bespoke indulgence can be inspirational, but are designers leaning in too far? Those elements should serve the higher purpose of design, to inspire and contribute beauty to one’s surroundings. It seems the forest has been missed for the trees.
Maybe my point is best made by way of synecdoche. Consider Gucci’s fairly recent entry into the home decor marketplace. These cushions (starting at $1,150 apiece) are embroidered with detailed images, tasseled, fringed, and made of velvet. Are they also ugly? Is that the sign of the end of a design craze, when it’s been pushed beyond the limits of good taste? If someone spotted one of these in their grandmother’s apartment 20 years ago they’d smirk to themselves about how awful they were, and yet now the coolest among us are shelling out more than your average person takes home in a week to purchase pillow, just because Gucci told them to like them. I wonder what design would look like without branding. I guess it would just come down to good taste.