Design Hipsterism? Why Do We Stop Liking What's Popular?

Design Hipsterism? Why Do We Stop Liking What's Popular?

Julia Brenner
Jul 18, 2012

I was at a coffee shop this past weekend when I overheard two 20-somethings discussing a music festival taking place in Chicago. This is a festival that has grown in popularity over the past few years, and the gist of their conversation was that they used to go back when it was "good", but now it's just "too popular". It wasn't the music that made the festival bad, it was the perceived change in who liked the music. More broadly, this is the response so many of us seem to have once something we like becomes popular. So what gives? If we once liked it, why do we stop once it becomes popular?

I'll admit it, I still do this a bit, but these days I try to temper my knee-jerk response to stop liking something once it becomes popular. I used to be really bad. I was that annoying teen in high school that would be completely crestfallen if a song I liked became popular on mainstream radio, yet in the same breath I would complain that mainstream radio stations never played any good music. I know, I know.

In the realm of design, I'm constantly seeing decor darlings that are now routinely dissed. Why? Because they're "everywhere" or because we're "so sick of seeing them." Chevron stripes, terrariums, Keeping Calm, and ombre furniture are a few examples of trends many of us have stopped liking because they're too popular. I mean, people genuinely despise those Keep Calm & Carry On posters. If you look at it objectively, it's really not a bad little saying, and the prints are usually pretty harmless, a little crown and some words; the story behind it is really very cool. Overall, there's nothing overtly bad about it, yet it evokes such statements as "if I see that print one more time I'm going to die."

As for me, I'm trying to keep calm and keep liking what I like, even if it becomes mainstream. So I'd love to hear what you think about this topic. Do you stop liking something once it becomes popular? Any idea why we might have these feelings? Are we all just a bunch of, gasp, hipsters?!

PS - If you are up for a good laugh, check out Urban Dictionary's definition of Hipster.

(Images: 1. Poster Evolution, 2. West Elm, 3. Terrarium House, 4. Design Sponge)

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