Follow the Trendy Brick Road

Irwin Weiner -- I prefer the way most Europeans approach design trends. They tend not to take them so seriously and boldly strike out in their own mad ways, marching to the beat of many different drummers. The British artists known as Gilbert & George had their London house photographed, and I was immediately drawn to their humor-filled kitchen. In the midst of a utilitarian kitchen, which includes a humble washing machine, they plunked down a collection of gorgeous Aesthetic Movement ornaments on top of a similar period sideboard. They saw each item in their design scheme as being its own unique thing without pigeonholing it into a specific trend, labeling it as part of a certain design movement, or belonging to a specific period.

You may hate an eclectic approach to decorating, and many Americans would agree with you. But let me burst your bubble here. As Americans, we tend to want the hottest trends. We wind up spending a lot of money on the Latest and Greatest. The downside is that in order to catch the big trend wave, we wind up being washed ashore when it comes to the next trend movement. Hot interiors date quickly, like wearing last year's designer labels. If you're a slave to of-the-moment trends, I see a lot of design updates and adjustments in your future. Actually, I shouldn't complain, as it keeps me in business. 

VKagan1.jpgEuropeans -- and possibly a growing number of Americans -- are more trend independent, combining an independent mix of utilitarian, old and new, trendy, and hopelessly silly in a way that creates a much more classic and timeless design whole. These eclectic mixes might follow a RETRO design trend, like using 1970s style elements, but this is not like being a slave to brand-new trends. Retro trends have established points of reference, and they usually embrace a more classic approach the second go-around than when they were first introduced.

The lesson is to look at an item totally independently from its period, its trendiness, or its pedigree. Will it work in your design scheme? That's the hard questions, and it's a hard way to evaluate design elements for me and for most decorators, too. For instance, I'm not quite ready to embrace things that are p-p-peach colored, and I'm leery to use Post Modern 1980s design elements. But I'm working on these aversions and am trying to adopt a more eclectic, neutral, and all-inclusive European sensibility.

As a decorator, I would rather present a great design scheme with a mix of elements that won't date badly in a few years than sell you one hot, trendy package. Remember when all American appliances had to be harvest gold? I rest my case.

If there are current design trends you think will be tomorrow's classics, please add your comments and recommendations.  Feel free to agree or disagree with my point of view, but keep in mind that it's decorating . . . not brain surgery.

Jay JohnsonComment