Photo by Salt Water New England

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Blah of Mainstream Retail


A reader sent this article, Is the Midcentury Modernism Obsession Dying Down? that noted:
...a noticeable push away from the understated ethos of modernism and, especially, the impersonal blah of today's version of it. As Charlotte designer Catherine M. Austin puts it, "I think any time a 'look' has hit the mainstream chain retail stores and is mass produced, it has lost its allure."
One still can predict, however, that anytime an emerging trend is towards creating "a genuinely personal space," especially when shaped by the Skinner Box of Instagram, the results will all look remarkably similar.


27 comments:

  1. A boy can dream. On the other hand, it will always thrive in Palm Springs. Would that it stayed there.

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  2. So, now what to do with a storage space full of midcentury modern? Asking for a friend.....

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    1. Tag sale. It's a New England tradition. "Even though you don't like something, someone else will." Warren Miller.

      Aiken

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    2. Aiken - I'm sure that's what we'll, I mean, my friend will do.

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  3. Wow! And here I thought a "genuinely personal space" meant "what I like and want to live in". How dumb am I??

    NCJack

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  4. It’s cheaper to design and mass produce “mid-century modern” type furniture. No intricate details to design, cut, and carve. You can’t sell particle board as old growth mahogany. The masses want low cost. Not high quality.

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  5. Decorating magazines have been wanting mid century modern to go away for years. Last year one predicted the next big trend to be Art Deco. So many young people buy their first pieces of furniture from IKEA or grew with it that it is becoming what they view as traditional. As for the "Skinner box", I am glad I googled that, here I thought it was some new Instagram thing for Skinner Auction house! Having just finished eating yogurt out of the plastic container with a William IV silver teaspoon at my mid century teak dining table, I don't see what the fuss is about.

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  6. It’s sad to see my friends’ parents giving away their gorgeous hand-carved furniture because their kids would rather have big box store mdf popsicle stick faux mid-century furniture. I have to believe it has something to do with the need to not be tied down to anything, buy the cheap light stuff rather than the heavy full flavor stuff... a fear of settling down... Anything for that to turn around the other way!

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    1. Agreed. That said, I've never understood the problem with being tied down to things we love.

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  7. I agree about the Ikea seeming traditional to the young people. Before Ikea, there was Scan but the Scan furniture was better quality in those days- probably not so much today.

    The ' genuinely personal space' and ' personal experience' are existential marketing campaigns that super annoy me. It seems that in the hyper-pursuit to create a personal identity, a personal experience, etc.. creativity and resourcefulness are missing and everyone ends up looking, talking and behaving the same way. I often wonder if the sheeples even notice this about themselves or maybe the goal IS to be like everyone else?? For several years it seems that everyone enjoys wearing an afghan around their neck. People get tattoos to brand themselves as unique with a unique experience but no one sees anything unique about it - all they see is a tattoo. Automobiles all look the same to me now. Shoes all look the same even though they are different brands. Haircuts all look the same regardless of where anyone goes. When I saw Duchess Meghan wearing ripped/shredded faded jeans I felt embarrassed for her. It just seems to me that my generation matured much faster than people today and trends or fads as we called them were associated with being a teen. I might have a lot more tolerance for current trends if any of them were appealing, in good taste and an improvement but this type of consumer egalitarianism and social infantilization is driving me crazy!

    I own a few pieces of authentic Danish Mid Century Modern and they blend well with my eclectic assortment of antiques but I never cared for Art Deco.

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  8. Good design will survive. But too often so does bad. If we take a cold eye to it, much of what we despair that no one wants was really just overdecorated junk that should have been disposed of generations ago (bonfire anyone?). Chairs that aren't comfortable, precious wood tables everyone is forbidden to actually put anything on. After downsizing to the dump everything the kids didn't want, I find myself happy to finally be rid of all of it.

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  9. I never liked midcentury modern, we kept our "brown furniture" and love it.

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  10. I volunteer at a senior rest home in Boston. They just reupholstered some lobby chairs in a Mad Men print. It's dead, trust me.

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  11. House Beautiful ran an encouraging article recently on "Grandmillennial" style about young people who like traditional things in their houses - wicker, chintz, and even needlepoint, which I read is becoming popular again among twenty-somethings.

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  12. As Lady Mary told Richard Carlisle, "Your lot buys it. My lot inherits it."

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  13. Gracious living is having a history surrounding your home. I live with antiques and items purchased over a forty years. It gives me comfort looking at dining chairs purchased at auction in London. Next door is a couple with designer clothes and a Mercedes. They have two leather sofas and a big screen t.v. They entertain at resturants.

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  14. ... and we drag it all behind us like Marley's chains. If there was a catastrophic fire or hurricane and we lost all our belongings except the clothes on our backs, would we mourn their loss? If so, we may want to take a look at our priorities. But that's just me. I spent the first half of my life acquiring stuff (buying to my taste, inheriting someone else's) and am spending the second half getting rid of it all. Do whatever you want.

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  15. I think it's mostly that "out with the old, in with the new" is a very widely held American viewpoint, so this results in there being nothing to inherit from your family. What are you going to use to furnish your first apartment when your parents don't have an attic full of Grandma's furniture? Plus, the days of extended family networks being in close proximity to each other are gone since people have to move far away to find good jobs so who can afford to pick up and move the heavy old furniture if money is tight?

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  16. Well said Dave. Also though, some have a stronger sense of home than others and wish to create a warm inviting space and live in an environment in which they feel comfortable. Others could care less what their home environment looks or feels like. I'm 41 and have always despised mid-century modern style with its skinny, tapered legs and top-heavy structure (the equivalent of an overweight person in skinny jeans and high heels) so though I am older than the newest generation, even when I was of that age group, my tastes have always been "old soul" and I have always loved classic, beautifully carved furniture with well-proportioned dimensions and lovely craftsmanship. Traditional prints as well--toiles, checks, stripes...They all have their place in my home.

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  17. I'd move to New England in a heartbeat simply for its traditional aesthetics and classic architecture if it weren't for the dreaded Lyme scourge.

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    1. Don't let Lyme stop you. Tick-born infections are epidemic across the nation- in every state. With no reliable testing available, we are all screwed regardless of where we live. I'd rather be in NE!

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    2. Staying away because of Lyme disease seems like overkill.

      I've lived my entire life in Connecticut not far from where Lyme disease was discovered. I go into the woods all the time (and have for decades) for day hikes and walks with our dogs. Over the years, I've hiked in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Never got infected with Lyme.

      Because the woods do harbour ticks, I learned long ago a simple but effective practice: at the end of the hike, take a few moments to check yourself for ticks. Visually check your partner. Run your hands down your legs near the ankles and especially around the neck and hairline and up your arms. You can usually feel a tick if one has hitched a ride on your body.

      You can spray repellent around your ankles,too, but frankly, I rarely bother. Checking yourself at the end of the walk works well enough.

      Ticks take time to establish themselves; you don't need to be in a panic. It takes about 36-48 hours for a tick to infect you, so with a little diligence, you have plenty of time. I've come back from the beach in Madison and didn't check for ticks only to find one on me while in the shower. That may seem terrible, but it's really no big deal. Taking a shower is actually a good back-up procedure for ticks.

      New England is a great place to live. Don't let the ticks prevent you from coming.

      Aiken

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    3. I once had to see the doctor because I'd had tick bite that resulted in one of those so-called bullseye rashes. But that was over twenty years ago and there have been no aftereffects.

      It is supposed to be true that where there are deer, there will be deer ticks. But I'm in the woods everyday here in Northern Virginia and while I do see deer, sometimes in numbers of four or more, I have not picked up a tick for at least a couple of years. Now, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Are deer ticks on the endangered list along with honeybees? Or have I just been lucky?

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  18. Mid century modern was bland and ugly then and bland and ugly now.

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  19. I grew up in an environment as "trad" and "preppy" as could be — Social Register — but my own tastes lay then and now toward mid-century design.

    Part of this, I think, was basic Kid Rebellion. But the fact that I still like it, but with the additions of handful of pieces from the g'parents that exhibit their style and taste, makes me happy. Mostly, our house is what we want, but there's an acknowledegment of what the ancestors liked and valued.

    More than that I couldn't say.

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