Sunday, March 28, 2010

Will Design Blogs Make Us Get Too Homogenized?

I was thinking today.  (A dangerous thing I know.)  I was thinking about the blog phenomenon and the effect it is having on design in this country.  It is a very different effect than magazines have.  Magazine design was always lofty, somewhere "out there" in an otherworldly, often unobtainable place.  Now, with the explosion of design blogs, we have access to each other every day, minute by minute.  We are in each others' kitchens and bedrooms whenever we want to be.  We can watch the real-world evolution of so many bloggers' design ideas come to fruition, backstage photos and all.  We share our sources and tips.  We educate each other on color theory and decorative arts history.  And we certainly opine freely on what is trendy and what should never, ever be seen.
Which brings me to the big question.  Is this a good thing, or will it eventually make interior design in America so blended that a uniqueness that was there before will forever be gone?  You know how back in the day you could travel to a new city and it was so completely different from your hometown?  But now you exit the interstate and the first thing you see are stretches of strip malls full of the same Pottery Barns and Targets that you see back home. As a result, we all now wear the same clothes with same accessories in the same colors.  It depresses me sometimes.
So now when we are designing a room, will we hop on the web and travel around to make sure we are aren't making a huge design faux pas too uncool for blogland?  Will we freeze in our tracks with the thought,  WWJD?  (What Would Joni Do?)
The big challenge for us all is to reap the benefits of the camaraderie of Facebook and blogging while retaining our own unique viewpoints and styles.  Sort of like art class when we walked around and viewed and appreciated each other's work, and sometimes felt even a little intimidated.  But we ultimately walked back to our canvas and put our own brushstrokes down.  We have to challenge ourselves to be true to our own style while appreciating others' work.  Not easy, but if we support each other, it is possible.


Linda Merrill said...

Very interesting thoughts here. I guess I would say that it's the blogs that might save us from homoginization. As you said, you can go to any town in America and find a local Pottery Barn and Target. Those are the culprits of homoginization (is that a word?... hmm) to my mind. Pottery Barn in particular. Many folks for whom the shelter mags represented the totally unattainable have been mainly influenced by the chain stores - PB, RH, etc. Their catalogs are more like magazines than simple product listings. The blogs, on the other hand, are a source of constant inspiration and I would venture to guess that many readers minds have been opened to new ideas, or new ways of mixing and matching standard PB fare. While there is a lot of "trendiness" out there and possibly a formula approach to design (take 1 zebra rug, 1 grain sack pillow, 1 lantern, add some sea shells and stir) there is still a lot of variation within the formula. PB and RH offer no variation within their design aesthetics. Plus, I think all the flea market/thrifting ideas that float about are always one of a kind. If that makes sense?

Anonymous said...

So agree these are interesting thoughts. I can see both sides here.
I frequent blogland myself for enjoyment and inspiration as well. In fact as much as I enjoy a good shelter magazine and I subscribe to several there are so many talented people out there whose work we never saw until now. And Linda's comments on PB and RH are right on the money. I too think there are some that will just follow the trends but on the whole, I believe, people want their homes to be unique to reflect their interest and personality.

Southern Chateau said...

We all agree. Just saying I hope we don't lose our own identities because the blogs we follow are so much more personal than magazines. And, by the way, I love Joni!

Sami said...

I have been thinking about this very thing in application to myself and my personal style.

I think it is easy for a non-designer (such as myself) to fall into a copy the room vs find my own style mentality no matter if you are copying another blogger, magazine or catalog.

I can also see where we bloggers might edit our rooms to the trends (even bloggy trends) - in order to fit in.

Often, I find myself checking my motivations. Am I buying this because I love it or because I saw it on another blog and it looked great in her home?

Great discussion topic I am looking forward to other's thoughts.

Southern Chateau said...

Thank you, Sami. That is what I am talking about. Because our design blog community is more personal, I worry that we may edit ourselves more for fear of being out of step with the opinions and trends offered on popular blogs. I just want people to have confidence in themselves. Also, design can be regional. What looks good in one area of the country can be totally out of place in another.

Tee said...

Great food for thought. I think there will always be those who "borrow" creativity from others, be it blog or catalog or glossy magazine. For me, it just would never feel right to copy exactly someone else's efforts, however beautiful, economical, or otherwise. I will admit to frequently becoming bored with blogland because there is so much sameness out there, even when it is lovely sameness. I visit, appreciate, then return to the security of what is uniquely mine.

Hope you are having a great weekend!


p.s. Ever used stringcloth wallpaper? I need some guidance on pros and cons.

funcolors (Lori Sawaya) said...

I've participated on design/paint forums since 2004. I've never edited my opinions - ever. The feedback on forums is immediate and it can be ruthless. Blogosphere is far more polite.

Up to this point, I have resisted a blog. My thing is color and I have to say I don't like what I'm seeing. My message about color and design has been consistent since my first post on a message board - it is about authenticity and individuality.

What I'm seeing out there on the www about color specifically is not all good. There is a lot of misinformation that is being propagated by folks who just woke up one day and decided they wanted to be a color expert. It is obvious when reading what they write about color - and paint - that they do not have one fat clue what they are talking about.

Color is about personal color journeys. Everyone's relationship with color is so much more than formulaic "no-fail" color schemes and processes or hot gluing paint chips to poster board.

I can see how homogenized is a valid concern in my corner of design world. I'm concerned that people are going to start following these dogmas of color theory being handed to them by "color experts" who are actually just talking heads. I fear for self-expression, artistry, and creativity. Reading the "top five" list after "top five" list you start to believe that no introspection is required; you don't have to use your eyeballs or think. All you need to do is follow the trends and color rules as they are dictated. And since the misinformation and rules are repeated over and over from website to website and blog to blog people start to believe it. It becomes ingrained in our psyche and all of the sudden there is a "right" way to color our environs. It's sad and it's a bit scary.

The topic you've brought up, Southern Chateau, is certainly something to continue to observe and think about...

Southern Chateau said...

Hi Tee! Thanks for reading and commenting. I will e-mail you. The new stringcloths can be beautiful.

Southern Chateau said...

Thank you, funcolors, for your great comment. I am so glad some of you get what I was saying. Blogs and bloggers are great; I write a small one myself. But in reality, we just offer our own perspective and aesthetic. I want everyone to remain true to their own selves and take what they want and leave the rest. I don't view anyone, however successful, as an absolute expert. What we do is too subjective for that.

Anonymous said...

Great comments from everyone. It has generated some reflection in my own interior design journey. Thanks

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

This post is very thought provoking. I love to look at design blogs for inspiration. Sometimes its a color scheme or furniture placement or interesting accessory. I am not interested in copying other peoples designs, but instead to take inspiration from what others have done and then run it thru my "style filter" to come up with my own take on the inspiration!