…If design is a gauge of cultural mood, then how will it reflect this period of economic collapse and anxious recovery?
One answer may be glimpsed in “Undecorate,” a book by Christiane Lemieux published last month. Ms. Lemieux, founder of the home-furnishings firm DwellStudio, coined the term “undecorate” to describe the surge of riotously eclectic amateur design that rose up during the recent recession. Whereas modernism represented an ideal of frugality for lean times, the undecorate movement offers a kind of populist authenticity in opposition to the polished trappings of a design establishment. The “democratization of design” has been a fashionable phrase for years. It may finally have arrived.
Historically, only a fraction of Americans hired architects or interior designers. The rest of us gawked at ipê wood decks and embroidered silk upholstery in home-furnishing magazines. The voyeuristic thrill seems to have worn off, however, during the last three cost-conscious years. The downturn killed a dozen shelter magazines, and the survivors suffered a 30 percent drop in advertising pages from 2007 to 2010, according to the Media Industry Newsletter.