I think I may have dug myself a bit of a hole in committing to discuss what is out of style. The more I think about specific styles, designers, etc. the more I realize that we live in an extremely fickle era; a time in which it is chic to be described as “eclectic.” I don’t know if eclectic ever had a negative connotation, but suffice to say, today it is almost demanded. Defining one’s self as such is highly liberating as there are no rules whatsoever. You like those Pierre Paulin tongue chairs, cool, go right ahead and put it across from your Chesterfield sofa behind the Louis commode inherited from your recently passed grandmother all in your Spanish Colonial house. That’s cool, as long as it “works” to some degree; you’re edgy! Maybe the rise of eclecticism has contributed to the rise of the “armchair designer.” If the degree of inconsistency between objects is what is most cherished, then who needs an understanding of the materials or a history of any particular style.
Before you start to think that I am bemoaning the state of design, please know that I’m as guilty as anyone in describing my personal style as eclectic. It’s what looks right to me. I like everything that I put together and I don’t need a consistent adherence to any one style to validate my rooms, etc. It’s very personal and unique, which makes it different, original. Originality being one of the highest compliments one can receive in today’s environment. At the same time, I’ll readily admit that there is a practical reason underneath: I can’t afford to be consistent. I live in a rented apartment, so buying pieces that work within a certain room inside a specific style of house is somewhat not germane, as I’ll be moving on in the near future. I buy the nice pieces that I can afford as I come across them, not whole sets or programs of pieces, which coordinate perfectly because they were all bought together. It looks cool.
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s very difficult to say that something is out of style when being different is the goal. Dissonance is ideal, so using something that is out of style effectively renders that thing in style. No?
There have been many styles. I can think of dozens just in the 20th century. Each of them can be defined by a set of rules and/or conformity to a artistic philosophy. Even Dada can be defined by it’s political nihilism and anti-art rebellion. The creators were working within some sort of framework; each design (piece of art, whatever) elaborated on a thesis. What is today’s thesis? What movement(s) is happening today? All I can think of is New Design, which is essentially commercial, and arguably soul-less. How will history remember Philippe Starck? Seriously, I have no idea. What I do know is that styles grow out of their time. They react to the environment, and as everyone can feel, today’s environment is changing. Look for a new style to reflect that.