Design in NY: Maybe Less Isn't More?

Design in NY: Maybe Less Isn't More?

Janel Laban
Mar 27, 2007

Nearly every peek at high design that we had during our NYC holiday was another check in the column of "more is more". It's all so PRETTY. It's decorative, ornamental, baroque, and frilly. And remarkably, this ultra-decorative slant often seems to go hand in hand with the implementation of new cutting edge technology by designers - as if we were all just waiting for these new ways to make things look fancy.

Talking it over with our stalwart traveling companions we came to the conclusion that, for a long time now, we've been shown "good design" that was in the camp of a useful item that was also nice to look at. Simple, streamlined, UNdecorated pieces ruled. Don't misunderstand - how it looked was still often more important than how well it performed, but the look was clean and modern.

We've seen this coming for a while, but on this trip is was very apparent that the high design being shown, is to a large extent, super decorative. MoMA has an exhibit on digitally driven design that had some very ornate pieces and Moss was full of things that exist as simply as art objects; the items that do have some other function (mirrors, tableware, lighting,etc.) are, for the most part, highly ornamental, patterned and in general, gussied up.

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