Designers design. Clients expect something designerly and magical. In the process a designer is often tempted to leave some of him/herself behind. Actors might call this chewing up the scenery. For a designer it's more like a spitting out, leaving his/her DNA all over the place. It's an affliction that effects young designers especially. It's not necessarily a bad thing, the only test worth considering is whether the work is good. In making the case for restraint, great industrial designer Dieter Rams said: "Good design is as little design as possible." (See here for Rams's Ten Principles of Good Design.) Interior designer Ettore Sottsass said the best decoration is a kind of "ritual whisper."
But not everyone is looking for a whisper. For those who prefer their design with a louder voice, there's plenty of support for that too.
The image above from Elle Decor's A-list of Top 25 Decorators. (See more here.) Not to decry design that is designerly, minimalism and reductivism present a different ambiance. As a vibe it's a whole other frequency. There are always many possible solutions for good design, Dieter Rams aside.
A room from legendary interior decorator Albert Hadley:
Hadley creates a spirited conversation with texture, bold patterns, shocks of color, and material contrasts: Like a family discussing politics during a holiday dinner.
Now, for something completely different: The infamous Lower East Side apartment of MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach.
The color scheme is black and white and his decor is nearly non-existent. "Empty" and "vacuum" are some of the words critics have used to describe it. Biesenbach believes the room should frame the spectacular views outside his window, no obstruct it with decoration. The above mentioned Hadley might not agree: “So many people arrange furniture in order to see what’s going on outside. But why? The view isn’t going anywhere.”
It brings to mind the movie cliché of the brilliant scientist who fills his closet with copies of one essential outfit. Here, the quiet, minimal approach seems also to be attempting an ambiance to save valuable brain resources like the brilliant scientist's closet. A piece in the New York Times put it this way:
"I hate design," Mr. Biesenbach will tell you emphatically. When he travels he has the habit of stripping his hotel room of anything that moves (furniture, colored pillows, desktop accessories) and stuffing it all into the closet. "It's a little bit of a curatorial disease," he said. "I like to reduce everything to its surface."
Biesenbach's closet, not unlike the scientist's:
An overview of the space including balcony garden:
After living in an mostly empty apartment, Biesenbach lent an artist friend his apartment for a summer. The friend brought in a white sofa and table and chairs. To offset the potential "clutter," one supposes, the friend painted every other remaining non-white surface white, including the TV and microwave (the TV survived the painting, the microwave didn't).
More on this story here.
Interesting how controversial the apartment is on the interwebs. Some have the called the project "anti-design." Well, if that's what it is it's hostile territory
CBS Sunday Morning spoke with Biesenbach about the apartment: