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The impact of the economic crises on interior design

This is an interesting topic I have been wondering what the real impact on design is. I read an article in the New York Times (April 3 2011) called Design well within reach. The article discussed how the disaster of the Great Depression in the 1920s impacted on interior design at the time. There was a move toward modernism; design became functional for example Alvar Aalto chairs.

Interior design trend called undecorate

During this current recession the article explains a trend has developed in interior design toward eclectic do it yourself design. A term called ‘undecorate’ has been used by Christiane Lemieux to describe the movement. A phrase ‘democratization of design’ has been in use for some time and has now maybe come to be an eventuality. People have become very resourceful at finding discounted items via the internet.

People finding discounted interior decorating items via internet

It appears as if the amateurs are leading the way and designers have been left behind. I know in Australia the level of design literate amateurs has increased amazingly over the last few years. You only have to look at the design shows on TV (some very good ones) to be aware of this. However design rules are being broken; principles like harmony and balance have become passé. Fabrics are mismatched and wallpaper placed on ceilings and over moldings. An attitude of anything goes is current.

Interior design rules are broken

Maxwell Gillingham from the Apartment Therapy blog is quoted as saying ”There’s no longer any good or bad… that new openness is the story. We’re all swirling around together.” There has been a move toward individual expression instead of professional polish.

Sample Board ‘Inspired by Modernism’ created by Rosena on

No good or bad interior design

The article discusses a photographer called Todd Selby. He has created a website where he shows a range of rooms from the homes of creative people like musicians and writers. The rooms indicate the undecorate trend has been followed. Images show wallpaper peeling, lots of clutter and items such as thrift shop paintings. That is not to say you can’t find some great second hand items.

Individual expression in interior design is all important

The question is where does that leave us? I have always thought good design should not be available to only those who can afford it and for this reason I have held workshops and taught TAFE Interior Decorating classes for those interested in DIY decorating. But I must confess I do find it difficult to look at messy rooms with no harmony, balance or correct proportion. I suppose the same thing is happening with cooking to some extent Chef’s must look at amateur cooking shows and shudder as I do. That is not to say some beautiful dishes and rooms are not offered up by the non professionals. What do you think? Where do you think the interior design profession is or is heading in these hard economic times?

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