Contextual study point: After Taste – A close reading

History tells us that Interior Design has been identified with feminine taste. Pre-industrial time, pre 1850’s, it was believed only the aristocracy had means and money to display luxury items in their interiors. This meant that ‘taste’ was only recognised amongst the wealthy. This all changed after the Industrial Revolution. Items of luxury could be mass produced because of the move forward with technology. During this time, designers such as John Ruskin and William Morris stepped up to create designs with fine craftsmanship. This then led to discussions on good and bad taste and in turn battles between the interior decorator and interior designer.

Elsie de Wolfe is known as an American pioneer, the first decorator, who after becoming a professional actress in the 1890’s found her way amongst her connections in society to design interiors with simplicity, airiness through her use of light paint hues, fabric and mirrors. With her acting background and her fashion sense, in 1935, she became known as ‘the best-dressed woman in the world’. Her taste in décor was based on her own personal journey and sad childhood, she banished all Victorian style from her designs because of this. As time went by, the modernist movement in society and culture paved way for creating spaces around science and technology, looking at function rather than social status. This move looked at living in a simpler way and encouraged social engagement.

Taste, in my opinion, is about how we as humans have the ability to think about what is beautiful and genuine, this way we can share our understanding of taste through expressions socially. When we design a space, our experiences within that space will affect how we feel, the atmosphere will be felt once we add different elements of design, interestingly different elements evoke an emotion or memory within our current and past lives, just as music does. Which is why it is so important when designing for a client, that you understand them as humans, their likes and dislikes and reasons behind them, to gain a better understanding of their ‘taste’ in design.

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