Textile room at Shiprock Santa Fe: artisan-made collectibles such as Native American weavings are sources for inspiration and are embedded with rich tradition and meaning. Photo courtesy Wendy McEahern
When considering the mind-numbing number of choices that contemporary consumer culture makes available to us, it is often easier to take the path of least resistance. To just accept what is being touted as the new best/right/life-altering product/food/dogma seems to be the easiest way to survive it all. It’s the “I’ll have what s/he’s having” syndrome. But that sort of non-decision-making ignores one thing, and one thing that is super important in thinking about design: what truly makes you happy, what brings you joy?
Great art (and design) almost always come from a place of rebellion, a belief that status quo is failing to accomplish what it could. It’s our nature to find comfort in the status quo, while others are repelled and instigated. To turn away from the design status quo and discover for ourselves what works for us takes bravery and stubbornness because, in the end, the entire mass consumer marketplace depends on us never being satisfied with our choices and always being fearful of being out of step with what everyone else is doing.
So, what if the latest furnishing or finish doesn’t exactly fit the vision of your current project or, more simply, doesn’t make you happy? Let’s look at a few current trends, and ask some useful questions.
1. Rose gold metal finish. Is it in keeping with other finishes in your overall scheme? It represents an elegant if not posh take — is that what you hope to convey?
2. Midcentury modern. Does that specific style of light fixture really work in your home, given other details and the overall look? The style once considered classic and understated is now in every magazine and catalog within reach, and so frequently comes across as tired and overdone.
3. Driftwood and greyscale. Is the neutrality of this more casual finish truly what makes your heart sing and does it really work with your beloved furniture? Or is it just what happens to be in those ubiquitous, thick mail-order catalogs of the moment?
If the answers are no, take heart! These trends too will pass, and the thoughtful selections that truly represent the essence of your design vision will remain. We know this, because we’ve seen it time and time again as we’ve guided clients to ask meaningful questions of the trends that infect how everyone thinks about design, and then make true choices about them.
Navigating the marketplace successfully means we can find and then fine-tune what it is that really floats our boat, and ignore (with a passion) that which doesn’t. After all, no one wants that closet or drawers full of last-minute whims that ultimately don’t offer more sustenance than potato chips. That Pantone has selected purple as the “Color of the Year” does not mean you must use it. And, believe us, you will see purple in everything, but so what? Conversely, that grass-woven fanner basket you purchased on your honeymoon in the Turks & Caicos or the Native American weaving your aunt gave you that you never knew what to do with, could offer a profound sense of meaning and the opportunity for moments of repeated joy as it sets the stage for the rest of the room’s design.
We encourage you to be your own guide. If the latest marketplace trends truly speak to you, then by all means, indulge. Just be sure the story you’re telling is your own.
Heather Van Luchene, ASID, and Steffany Hollingsworth, ASID, are partners in HVL Interiors, LLC, an interior-design firm offering professional residential and hospitality design services. Both are New Mexico-licensed interior designers. They can be reached at (505) 983-3601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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