Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Decoratively correct

Modern Classics
p12 It is only in the last couple of years that New Zealanders have been able to buy any of the modern classics in furniture - furniture by designers like Bertoia, Marcel Breuer, Arne Jacobsen, Mies van der Rohe and Eero Saarinen. So pre-occupied have we been with our English past that we have completely overlooked the history that was being made in the twentieth century. Yet these are the names that will become as well-known as those of Chippendale and Sheraton.

The furniture is characterised by the skilful use of modern materials, laminated wood, steel and by new techniques in construction. It looks best against an uncompromising twentieth century background of raw concrete or painted concrete blocks.

Perhaps because of an underlying New Zealand cautiousness which makes us reluctant to accept anything new and unusual, it has been used in private homes by only a sprinkling of architects and designers, although it can be seen in some outstanding office interiors. To many people, the shapes seem stark and too geometric, the colours and materials too cold. Yet this extreme simplicity is far more suited to modern New Zealand homes than are chintzy English styles.

p13 Eclectic decoration is much cited by experts as being the ultimate in skilful interior design in the twentieth century. Certainly one has to be skilful to use it successfully.
The difficulty lies in the very thin line between what is stimulating and what is in bad taste. A crystal chandelier in a Scandinavian style is bad taste, an abstract painting in a traditional home is not.

Lamp Shades
p17 Off white shades are always decoratively correct.

Walls and windows
p43 Walls are an inevitable element in any decorating scheme - there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re standing there and you’ve got to do something about them.

p46 There is a general belief that the range and quality of New Zealand-made papers is not as good as those obtainable in other countries. This is a long outdated fallacy. Frequently designs and patterns from overseas are made available by local manufacturers only a few months after their release in London. These are backed up by many well-designed New Zealand papers.

Jim and Judy Siers, and Vivien Shelton.
A Guide to Home Decorating in New Zealand:
A H & A W Reed, 1971.

In case you are wondering, I publish extracts from this long forgotten but pioneering book because it fascinates me. Here is a decorating book which concerns itself with issues of national identity, international standing, modernity and tradition. It is the DIY of unease, to paraphrase Sam Neill (shown here calling for calm, unaware that he is about to be savaged by a giant owl). Only in New Zealand could so much angst be prompted by interiors. Not that it was a bad thing: Shelton and the Siers made a serious book, discussing issues in the text which usually are subtextual. These days we have Trends and countless other magazines in the home and garden sector, each putting on its happy face every month to tell the readers the same story once again, always avoiding the dismal truths: that everything is fake and most readers will never be able to buy it anyway...

Good grief, I am making myself miserable just thinking about it. Here's Wishbone Ash:

1 comment:

Samuel said...

"Walls are an inevitable element in any decorating scheme - there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re standing there and you’ve got to do something about them."