Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just a Healthy Discussion

I realize I might be picking a bone with this....but, have you ever thought that some designers go a little over the top when it comes to their "signature" style?
I had a bit of a brainstorm after a little convo with Jenny from MFAMB, after she posted a pic of this bedroom done by Kelly Wearstler, and commented how she neither delighted in nor hated the room.I'm going to go out on a limb here and saying "blech!" I feel that, rather than truly being unique, Wearstler worked very deliberately to give this room the "I'm-so-over-Imperial-Trellis-and-now-do-strange-stuff" Kelly Wearstler treatment.
I feel like the glamazon who designed this room...
...Was replaced by the design duo of Abby Cadaby/Olivia-Newton-John.

I feel Wearstler must have been so weary of being typecast as the Queen of Hollywood Regency, that she drifted into this realm of renewed 70s with the sort of flagrant devil-may-care attitude that only someone supremely confident in their marketability has (not that that's a bad thing.)
A year ago, Apartment Therapy stated that Wearstler's "new" design aesthetic had yet to take off....
Hmmm...can't imagine why it hadn't???

The latest issue of Metropolitan Home featured her Malibu beach house, and it appears she's still pushing this 70's redux "moment."
With all due respect to the design chops she's earned...I'll take a pass.

But Wearstler's attempt to "move on" from the peak of 30's glamour leads me to a larger issue: That some designers, who have become well-known for a particular "look" chose one of two paths.
They may, in an effort to stay fresh (among the design glitterati), resort to bizarre aberrations of their seminal style. Alternately, they chose to look to that huge goddess in the sky known as "branding," and become parodies of their own work.

I feel Jonathan Adler is a prime example of the latter choice. I really like his work, so this is not coming from a crabby place, but must we be inundated by "Adler-isms" in all his designs? Chinoiserie - check. His own pottery - check. Graphic patterns - check. It all seems rather predictable.
I suspect there is method (and money) in the madness. Clients don't hire Jonathan Adler to not have a "signature" Adler space, and those who hire Wearstler likely deem themselves on the cutting edge of the next-best-thing in design, and want their spaces to reflect that.

So I ask, if we were to hire a famous designer, would we want everyone (or, at least our design-junkie friends) to be able to walk into a room and declare, "Oh, so-and-so did this room?"
Is a designer in fact chosen on the basis of his or her tried-and-true aesthetic, and expected to carry it out without straying from his particular formula - even if it turns out being the interior design equivalent of an overused logo?

21 comments:

The Glam Lamb said...

BRAVO!!! Well said!!! I couldn't agree with you more. I didn't mind the bedroom in the pink and purple tones, that actually really didn't bother me. It was sort of special... which sucks to say for Kelly Wearstler, because when I think of her, I think of dramatic, and really really unique and really really special. I am dissapointed in her Malibu home - I actually completely vented with my best friend about this. We see nothing wrong in being known for "Hollywood Regency" as its beautiful and glamour all wrapped up with beautiful colors and textures. Who ever said that was "over" is wrong! I hope the old Kelly comes back - because that was her at her finest. Thanks for venting to us!!

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

I hear ya...and agree.

The only image I like...is the Adler library with the lime chairs.

Sometimes...it seems as though they are just toying with us. Ya know?!

"Parody of their own style"...perfect!

bluehydrangea said...

Great post!! I have to admit Kelly scared me with her home in Domino!! And if I hired a decorator I would still want my home to reflect my personality!!

Chic Coles (Cole Design) said...

Great question. I think that if I hired a famous designer I would want my own personal style to come through not theirs. It does bother me when designers keep repeating their look. Thanks for this post.

my favorite and my best said...

so well stated alison. you are right on with both adler and wearstler. to me often times wearstler just seems bored so she drops some kind of 70's glam meets space odyssey bullshit our way. and it's just ugly..and weird. someone must be buyin it though or she wouldn't be designing it. and i don't really like it when i can look at a room and see a designer's "shtick" all over it. you know who else is doing this?? miles redd, everyone's fave!! inlcuding me! but it's the thing we loved him for (shiny walls) that makes him recognizable. now, TOO recognizeable.
i guess at the end of the day a designer needs to set themself apart so the potential client can identify their own style in a way.

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

Great topic for a post. I think if I had the money to hire a famous designer, I'd want that designer to incorporate my taste in the design as well as their own flair. If you enter a room and know immediately who designed the space, is that really a space that reflects the owners interests?

A good designer should be able to add their signature style while also making the space reflect their client's personality.

GrannySmithGreen said...

Such very good points you've made. I agree with you that the 70's look just isn't "doing it" for me.

Aren't our interiors supposed to reflect US and not the designer anyway? I'm all about one's space telling us something about the occupant, not who was paid to "make it pretty".

There's my 10 cents worth!

Rachel said...

great post! thanks for stating the truth. and, thanks for posting the picture with the pink and black chair/bench (not sure what to call that!)

Ruthie's Renewed Treasures said...

Just discovered your blog and enjoying it!

Morning T said...

Wowee- some scary stuff there. I totally agree with you but my taste has always been very simple, none of those rooms appeal to me at all. Great post Alison!

Southern Exposure said...

Great topic! And I have always HATED that pink/purple Wearstler room!

Re:Fresh Design Studio said...

I agree. I used to be a fan of Kelly, but now her designs just seem too over the top. Nice to look at in a design book, maybe, but nowhere close to how real people live.

LindsB said...

I guess I would have to say I would pick a designer for what they have done and what they are known for. I would want maybe a tad of that in my room, say Miles Redd's shiny shiny walls and then the rest to reflect who I am and not the designer. I would have to say its a partnership with me, I would want alot of say in any room I was going to live with. I'm sure that makes me an awful client, but hey I like what I like :)

Lauren said...

Hmm.. awesome question. I think clients hire a designer for their style/ aesthetic & their ability to personalize spaces and the designer should create a space that feels perfect to the client.

My own goal is for a client's room to feel like "them" when they walk in the door. I want their friends to say "this is so you..." I see that as the highest compliment to the designer.. It means he/she has the ability to create highly personal & intuitive space.

All of that being said, of course designers come to the table with an aesthetic & I believe homeowners should choose designers whose aesthetic they love & can identifiy with to make the process work. I think designers should hone their style contantly & figure out their "look" and be able to apply it in many different types of spacec. (does that make sense?) I think it should be a real partnership.

-sorry for swuch a long one!! :)
xoxoo

Lauren said...

and sorry for all the typos!! :)

court. said...

that's right, you said it! ....no seriously, I think you've got it pegged.

Think about it; this is like all the emo kids banishing their fav band once it's gone mainstream. wtf??


What's wrong with doing/creating something that people pick up and make popular??

Good call, girl

TheFamousHome said...

I'm a newbie to the design world and my first introduction to Kelly was the home featured in Domino that you have posted in the first pic. I was blown away... why are this womans designs so popular??? Her new work makes me cringe. I had no idea she did hollywood regency, her previous work is so beautiful. Thanks for the rant, its great to hear that no everyone is a blind follower.

Paula Grace Designs said...

When I saw the spread in Met Home, I scratched my head. Design is very personal. Personally, I have only seen a few of Kelly's designs that I enjoy but folks are enjoying them a lot. Would I recommend Kelly to a friend, no. Her work is too specifically quirky for me.

Style Redux 2 said...

I have always been tempted to do a post on the most overrated designers and these two have always been my top two. I never find anything understated, elegant, or timeless in what they do. Just trendy and tacky. I think all good designers have their own aesthetic. I don't think "bad taste" is an aesthetic though.

court. said...

you got me thinking:

http://bigbeigebox.blogspot.com/2009/11/gucci-print-decor.html

Averill said...

I'm 100% in agreement with you on Kelly. I don't get her "new" style. It just strikes me as bizarre and unliveable (and way too 70s for its own good). Also, WAY too much ugly pattern.

As for Adler, I think you hire Adler to get Adler. And I think that's OK. That said, I wouldn't want my house to read as "X" designed this. I want it to come off as MINE. Distinct styles and looks are great for shelter magazine spreads, but not for real life. In real life you want something less "done", something more timeless.