The effect of economic collapse on design is the subject of Undecorate, by Christiane Lemieux, reports Michael Cannell in the New York Times (4/3/11). The Great Depression brought on “a functional European design style known as modernism,” which “expressed the frugal spirit of the day.” The Great Recession apparently has wrought “a kind of populist authenticity in opposition to the polished trappings of a design establishment.” For example, a dozen shelter magazines folded during the recession, while “a new breed of self-curating, design-smart amateurs” are attracting sizable followings on the web.
Among them is Apartment Therapy, launched seven years ago by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan “to help galvanize the growing ranks of design-literate amateurs discontented with the role of passive consumer.” The site attracts “five million unique visitors a month, an increase of 166 percent in two years.” Then there’s the Selby, launched three years ago by Todd Selby, which features “visits to the homes of writers, musicians, and other creative types” and shows “rooms filled with artful clutter — taxidermy, thrift shop paintings, exquisitely peeling wallpaper.”
“It’s still in the underground phase, but it’s starting to break through,” says Todd. Unlike modernism, undecorating has no rules and “delights in residential anarchy.” It is more a “movement than a single identifiable style” and “takes subversive pleasure in breaking the rules. Harmony and balance are passe. Excess is encouraged. Fabrics are mismatched. Wallpaper spreads over moldings and ceilings … The only guiding principle is that there is no guiding principle.” Christiane Lemieux says that these undecorators “aspire to a certain level of interior design, but professional help is beyond their reach. So they go at it their own way. Now they’re the authorities.”
Original post: http://www.reveries.com/