Lately there's been a bit of a disturbing trend in design, which is: everything from the '80s is back. Only a few years ago pretty much all designs from the '80s were agreed to be unequivocally terrible. Then, all of a sudden, Memphis was hip. Okay, I can get behind those bright colors and funky shapes. Then it was dusky pink and hunter green. In a modern environment—sure, why not? But now I'm starting to get worried, because, apparently, chintz is back.
Chintz: glazed cotton fabric, usually floral patterned, typically used in drapery, chairs and pillows.
Look, I don't create these trends, I just report on them. (Okay, so maybe the reporting is part of the creating, but that's a bit more philosophical than the brief for this post calls for.) As a Person Who Cares About Design, the return of chintz concerns me because A. I don't care for it, and B. if chintz can make a comeback, is anything from the '80s truly off-limits? What's next? Duck decoys? Shower doors etched with swans? Pastel southwestern prints? (I think they might already have that one at Urban Outfitters.) What a heady and terrifying time we live in.
But anyway, chintz is back, so let's take a look at what we're in for. Maybe it will be not so bad? Maybe in a few years we'll look back on this post and laugh. I can't believe there was a time when I didn't love chintz!—we will say, as we shop for vintage duck decoys on Etsy. The world of design is a strange place.
I was first alerted to the chintz renaissance by an email from House of Hackney, which included a few photos of their Spring/Summer 2018 collection. "It's Time for Chintz," the subject line proclaimed. Is it really? I wondered. I did not feel so good about Chintz Time. The images in the email left me with mixed emotions. Some of them seem ripped from a hotel room in the late '70s. But some of the things I saw, like the lampshade above, I did not hate. I felt confused.
For further evidence of the resurgence of chintz, take this Instagram post from fashion designer Rachel Antonoff, who posted a call for spaces for a new photo shoot. The space she offered as an example of what she was looking for featured liberal amounts of chintz. Tara, our News and Culture Editor, sent me the post. Perhaps because I had already been primed by the House of Hackney email, I wasn't sure if I hated it. Maybe it had a weird charm? Again, I felt confused.
This morning Tara, who is always on the beat, sent me the final photos from the Rachel Antonoff shoot, seen on Vogue. They were all liberally doused in chintz, and I did not hate them.
In fact, some of them I loved. They seemed sexy and weird and cool. I felt confused. Can I actually be trusted to dislike anything I think I dislike? If I see it in enough cool photo shoots, will I eventually come around? Can I trust my own taste? What is taste, anyway?
When everyone on the Apartment Therapy team agrees that vertical blinds are Bad, what does that mean? Do vertical blinds have an inherently poor aesthetic? Or do we just agree that they're ugly because everyone else does? I would love to read an article, or a book, about the philosophy of fashion and of taste, and discuss it with you all. Add your recommendations in the comments! But until then, know this one thing:
Chintz is back.