I apologize for the month-long hibernation that I will just roll up into one word, the HOLIDAYS. I had good intentions, but here I am, bourbon in hand, and it is Saturday, 2011. Happy New Year to all of us. Since I have just begun to re-engage my mind to all things new, I started to ask myself where are we today- and how is it different from the last year and what things are nascent? I asked an old friend what topics he thought appropriate for such a conversation, and he started out talking about trends. I instantly recoiled because the truth is- I hate trends. I think nine out of ten magazine writers have asked me the same question “what trends do you see now in design“, or some such gibberish. I think the reason I have such a reaction is that trends are just the root word for TREND-Y. Now, if you want the latest fashion forward pants or purse, you may be interested in trendy. But really if you are into something that is more LASTING, (like say, your house) that is classic, possesses character- and that may, (if you are very lucky and hard headed and focused) be TIMELESS- then really, trends are not what intrest you. Still, having said that, I look at the world as a whole- and the world of design (the latter always reacting to the former) and believe it is wise to take stock of where we are and where we may be going.
One thing that is very current and what I like to call salient; are ideas like efficiency as it relates to size- and green, which are in some ways related. Not soylent green, mind you sci-fi people. Because of the economy, and other factors, the season of conspicuous consumption is for now, rather dead. Or at least, in hiding. What does matter more now than in many years, perhaps a decade- is that design creates multiple opportunities within singular spaces and that those spaces not be larger than they need usefully be. I have more clients than ever talking about efficiency and the “not so big house” – even House Beautiful recently had an issue entitled “Is small the new Big?”. What happened? Did people suddenly become less Texan? Not really. People suddenly became so Taxed, and also the tough sledding of these economic times has changed our perspective. So it creates much more pressure on the designer to create great spaces smaller, and in so-doing on less budget. And I say bring it on, it’s about time! It was just too easy to throw money at design and make it all about size- in lieu of true thoughtfulness and creative approach. Someone once said design- is really just a response to a certain set of problems or issues. Actually I believe it is much more than than merely this, but as a basic premise, yes.
I mentioned green earlier, and in regard to being conservative (not necessarily the political kind) but conserving what we have, and being efficient. This is in direct relation to also being smaller in size of building but not giving up on useful and inspirational spaces. Then there are the aforementioned economic benefits- but really, it just makes sense. Please don’t think that we will start only designing 1500 square foot houses (though there are many great examples, even a few by us)- but people are seeing a balance to what they want to invest and whether it’s all because of the price of gold or the economy or the greenhouse effect (is that even real?) it has an effect on what we design- and how what gets built will look in the coming years.
I do try to keep my thoughts to about 500 words or less, but in this case- I granted myself a little loquacious latitude for the New Year always warrants some thoughtful consideration. I see that I have already contradicted myself and not maintained a German discipline on word usage- maybe I will make that my New Years resolution! Happy New Year to you, and I wish you all the success and happiness this year may hold- if it’s anything like last year, it will at least take up less space.