Ok, now that I have your attention… *dusts off hands*. Don’t get yourself too riled. The Crux is first and foremost a home design blog. This space doesn’t exist in independence of anything. The Crux is part of a large conversation about interior design that is taking place on so many platforms: magazines, books, blogs, websites, catalogues, stores, showrooms, design shows, inside an interior designer’s office, and even in your own home.
Our houses are at the centre. They are where we come home to, celebrate joy, are consumed in grief, find comfort, love one another, work, play, eat, learn, grow, and eventually, where we die. The way we style and decorate our homes is a reflection of everything a home means, of our personalities, our state of mind, and our stage in life. As such, our homes, like our lives, are framed by the tango we dance with the outside. We perceive the world and ourselves (including our sense of aesthetic) through the lens of the world perceiving us. That’s why it’s very important to think critically about everything we imbibe from the media—not to get too heavy on you too fast. By media I mean the in-your-face glossy premium magazines peppering the grocery store check out, but I also mean home design blogs or your instagram feed. Our life has become so saturated by the internet that media itself is everything.
I was floored by the amount of traffic and conversation that last week’s post 3 Tips For Artfully Messy, Deliberately Casual generated. I received plenty of feedback, little of it overtly negative, but lots of varied opinions none the less. Some people were very excited to read what I had to say about informal styling, sharing with me that the pressure to live in a completely styled space is very burdensome and contrary to their world view. The people who took something reassuring and affirming from that post are people who find perfection and order perhaps too stifling.
It didn’t appeal to everyone, and I would have been downright alarmed if it had. Terms like “dirty”, “dishevelled” and plain old “wrong” were flying left, right and centre. In fact, one woman who shared the post on Facebook wrote the following, and I’m not judging. In fact, I totally feel where she is coming from (well, aside from her need to appropriate a mental illness?).
“This is not my cup of tea, for sure. For me, there are two styles of decoration. One is right and one is wrong. (Lol) messy and ‘lived in’ just doesn’t work. ( that’s why I’m crazy half the time ). I need structure, organization, clean with beds made! I’m all for casual, light wood, colour-an eclectic touch. For me, the unmade bed is like a dirty tub; it needs to be dealt with! Ocd me much??
Conversation is good, it’s why I wrote the post. I wanted readers to think about why they have certain expectations for interior design. Style is personal, but very often people don’t examine their own style enough and simply absorb what is prescribed, and sometimes proscribed, by media. There’s been a lot of talk the last couple years about giving voice to everyday people so they can decide for themselves what pop culture is (home décor is just a subset of pop culture). I bring up cultural authority because it’s relevant; people saying “I’m going to do things my way. Maybe it’s different, but it’s not wrong.”
When I wrote last week’s post I was looking at style from a very specific perspective that is perhaps not the common perspective: the perch of a writer embroiled within the home décor and design industry. I was looking outward from inside an ultra glossy bubble—like magazine glossy. I was engaging in a relatively quiet conversation about skewed reflections of reality in media.
I wasn’t dwelling on how neatness can establish a sense of serenity and security, or feng shei or any number of interior design philosophies. In fact, I wasn’t dwelling too much on the average state of order in the average home. I was contemplating the unattainable. My thoughts were all wrapped up in the extremity, the alien cleanliness, the unreality that predominates the majority of home design media. It’s not altogether too different from the unreality of the fashion industry, or the fitness industry, or well any commercialized industry for that matter.
In one sense the blogsphere helps to redistribute authority to everyone who wishes to engage with the ideologies of interior design. Establishing accessible platforms for dialogue and creative collaboration prevents stagnancy. Home design blogs opens a door for discussion, for the development and play of different personal aesthetics. Unfortunately the blogsphere also continues to cater to a rigid traditional hierarchy, which dampens potential for authentic exploration of design.
There are a lot of ways in which the blogsphere facilitates granting primacy of voice to big media and corporations. Acknowledge for a moment the marketing strategies of blog sponsorship and advertising. We can talk a bit about writers being given products for use in their own home. Traditionally writers are discouraged from accepting gifts from sources (its usually unethical), which creates bias regardless of how much one might try to avoid it. A blogger’s opinions could remain his or her own, I’m not really trying to question the integrity of my peers. But, would that blogger have covered that specific topic if they had not been sponsored to do so? So, authority comes down to: “Who is deciding what content is available?” and “Who is deciding what style is?” If the sources making those decisions are the same sources that have always been making those decisions, then very little has been accomplished by the explosion of blogging. To be clear, I’m not disregarding that people out there need to make a living—life is complicated.
I didn’t start a design blog so that I could tell people what to think or how they should design their spaces. There are enough people strutting around in ivory towers already doing just that very thing. I started The Crux so I could examine design from its multi-faceted perspectives in dialogue with other design lovers. If you need order, then please, please for the love of God, create order and structure. Put everything in it’s place. Leave it there. Never touch it, but to dust it. If you crave the wild, the random, the unruly, then go for it. Style is for you! Not for your nosy neighbours or your judgey mother. Do it for you. Use your magazines to pick the bits and pieces you like to inspire your own creative engine to burn. Magazines are not rule books. When the editor of a magazine sits down to draft an editorial plan he or she is picking the bits and pieces that they like, and though they will acknowledge the rule books of design theory, chances are they are blazing their own trail.
Blaze your own trail too. Decorate however you like. And if you don’t know what to do, if you don’t know where to begin, try hiring a very qualified interior designer because they can see with creepy psychic eyes into your aesthetic soul and help you channel your personal style. Stop worrying so much about ‘the rules’ and about what everyone says you should be doing. Don’t listen to me, but keep on talking to me because that’s what I’m looking for in a reader.
A Design Blog.