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daisychain01_gw

Home decor trends: top down or bottom up

9 years ago

Since I have so much extra time on my hands these days (she says dripping with sarcasm), I was ruminating this morning over whether trends in home decor most often come from the bottom up (like fashion trends that usually start on the street and are picked up and made trendy by people like madonna) or whether they are brought about by designers and interested home owners who have the means to think on and execute their ideas.

When I was most obsessed with home decor, I had very little money and would come up with some pretty creative ideas to get the looks I wanted. However, I was heavily influenced by decor magazines - I would just add my own spin to things.

I am absolutely not a student of design, so forgive me if this is a hashed to death topic.

Comments (26)

  • 9 years ago

    Interesting. I am tempted to say bottom up (because I link creativity with youth and the need to improvise, a la the proverbial "starving artist" in an attic garret). Certainly all the boho anthro stuff feels bottom up. And things like empty frames, or oversized mirrors leaning against the wall, etc.

    It is probably both.

    And then throw in the military industrial complex too, eg Martha Stewart has teams just trying to find the next new idea.

  • 9 years ago

    I'm thinking top down in that not just mags and MS (always wondered if she decorated her cell nicely and gave her prison mates tips on making prison food tastier, folding your jump suit without wrinkles, etc.), but all the retail outlets, paint stores, lighting stores, etc. have the most incentive to see that your style gets dated most often as they stand to make the most money in the churn.

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  • 9 years ago

    Ditto on the window blinds! But I tend to agree on the top down. We MUST have a color of the year, we must have a new finish that is popular for our fixtures (back to brass, for example), is it 'in' to be Craftsman, MCM or Eclectic this year, etc, etc.

  • 9 years ago

    Have you heard how Anthropologie comes up with their decor ideas? This is a hoot!

    The birth of an anthropologie pillow

    http://ifthelampshadefits.blogspot.com/2011/02/typical-design-meeting-at-anthropologie.html?m=1

  • 9 years ago

    LOL kswl!


  • 9 years ago

    That was hilarious.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live near a really big, really nice, once a month flea market (I think they call it an antiques fair, but I think the rules are at least twenty years old or hand made, so antique doesn't seem accurate to me). I often see things there that then become mass merchandise knock off available in the next year or so? And I used to live near Frederick, Md and go "antiquing" there and would similarly see things that later would be reproduced and mass-merchandised. So it appears to me--non-expert that I am--that at least some of that stuff is percolating up.

    But I imagine there is also some top down influence. For example, the need to sell more kitchen cabinets dictates that every five years or so we need to switch from pushing white to pushing maple to pushing cherry and so on. That way everyone's kitchen looks dated and we all think we need a new one. And I would guess that the decor magazines are involved in that cycle as well as it encourages sales if they are showing what's new and hot. And encourages advertiser dollars too.

    So I'm going with both.

  • 9 years ago

    I feel it comes from top & bottom. Top is AD, ElleDecor, Veranda which showcase high end high budget homes. . Many of the European homes they show are as well. Those are hard to take away and source since they are designer and antique usually with lots of custom. Dwell shows high end modern.

    Then there is TV and blogs. That fuels the low end IMO as it's mainly trick it out or DIY or budget. And that's great for the very young with energy and talent.

    In the middle are the catalogs and I don't feel their influence can be overlooked. Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma Home (on the higher end of things), West Elm, Horchow, Ballard etc. It's neither high nor low. It's middle and meant to be affordable and is for many. How many times have people wanted to know a paint color from one of those pages?

    For me, entities like Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware are stylish but their styles are not as mainstream or nearly as influential as Pottery Barn.

  • PRO
    9 years ago

    Trends are very different on the West Coast from the East Coast and also from city to city. I would say that in New York and Los Angeles, the trends start at the top and filter down - I really cannot say much about other locations. I also used to live in San Francisco and Austin, where trends often started at the bottom - but I think that was partly because of the economics back then. I lived in SF in the 1970s and early 80s and in Austin in the late 1980s, and both cities have changed quite a bit since, although I have not visited them recently. I found trends in Vancouver to follow a lot of what was being done in London and Italy, but I haven't been there recently either.

    I think Houzz creates the illusion that whatever trend they feature has national scale, but such is not the case. The trends in Palm Springs are certainly different from those in Peoria.

    I only buy Italian design magazines, and so I do not keep up with domestic trends, which may cause me to be a bit out of touch.

    Lars

  • 9 years ago

    Bottom-->Top-->Bottom. Both directions.

    I think there is a certain amount of bottom up because designers (most of whom don't make all that much money especially compared to their client base) start using things as they come onto the resale market. Then their clients start using it, then it ends up in the sorts of projects that get published and then the look filters down to the middle.

    For years some Paul Evans pieces and most Milo Baughman pieces were reasonable. One of the reason (non-Iconic) Midcentury Modern and what is now called Hollywood Regency has come around again was because everyone who owned it originally was dying and it started showing up on the auction and in the used furniture market. Now, with Evans pieces auctioning in the six figures, they're untouchable except at the top of the market. The look or the influence then trickles back down.

  • 9 years ago

    That's a $90 hit, kswl! Funny!

  • 9 years ago

    I agree with the industrial complex and planned obsolescence factor- the need to refresh and feel current (and replace and buy new). I think while fashion has more of the street fashion coming up through the ranks, I do believe that for home décor it is quite heavily top down.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What I am weary of = GRAY!!! Please…why so gloomy? Looking at furniture in showrooms, it is all covered in gray upholstery, it is a sad uninteresting sea of composition when viewed as a whole. It is like looking at a beach with dingy gray sand, gloomy sky, murky silt filled sea and dead trees as compared to the Caribbean waters with clear, beautiful, varying colors of azure on a soft white sand beach, blue skies and green palm trees. It feels dated by a color trend perpetrated onto the pubic to reflect a depressing era and state of mind. Never has a more self conscious, uninspired design era of nothingness been so wildly popular, an enigma for sure. How will we look back on this design trend that has swept the nation from RV's to mansions?

  • 9 years ago

    "It feels dated by a color trend perpetrated onto the pubic to reflect a depressing era and state of mind. Never has a more self conscious, uninspired design era of nothingness been so wildly popular, an enigma for sure. How will we look back on this design trend that has swept the nation from RV's to mansions?"


    An inspired description, gr8tdaygw. I don't understand it either.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    " I agree with the industrial complex and planned obsolescence factor-"

    With regards to this aspect, I don't think this is aimed at the top. I think the mass marketing and obsolescence factors are exerted squarely at the middle, not the top. There are always going to be aspects of design for the top of the market that trickle down to the middle only a bit, and pretty diluted, and things that never make it to the bottom of the market.

    And in addition to there being a top, middle, bottom of the market in a financial sense, I think there are top, middle, and bottom in "cognizance" senses and in regional senses. How often have you read in forums such as this where someone is talking about something "new" and you think that it's not been new in your area for a long time? Or talks about wanting to get rid of something because it's "dated" and it's something that's showing up in Architectural Digest semi-regularly.

    Wallpaper, for example, never disappeared from the pages of Architectural Digest. Midcentury furniture has been appearing in magazines like ElleDecor for as long as I can remember, close to 20 years. But on the other hand, I don't think wallpaper with geese and watering cans ever appeared in either one. That sort of fashion was always targeted to the middle and bottom, not the top.

  • 9 years ago

    Pal, are you saying people are most heavily influenced by their peers and that there is a sort of top down in each strata of economics and cognizance? I think that is a more likely explanation of trends vs buying patterns vs cutting edge style. Occasionally all the strata converge with a trend like using ottomans as cocktail tables, when it is very popular at the "bottom" and still very en vogue at the "top."

    Our ID refuses to look at catalogs because he doesn't want to be influenced by them, but of course he is an avid reader AD and that sort of shelter mag. If we choose who influences us by our media consumption then everyone in our peer group or cohort moves through the process more or less in lockstep. Now, that's a bit depressing!



  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In a fashion analogy, take a look at Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection. This is a small collection of clothing for men and women based upon archival patterns reinterpreted. The women's line is often severe-looking, the men's heavy on loud plaids and tight sweaters referencing the 1910s and 1920s.

    It's targeted, for men anyway, to someone who can afford to pay $1200 for a casual sport jacket that's so distinctive that you can't wear it to the same place too often without looking like you have no other clothes.

    I asked the salesman about the Black Fleece and he said that it routinely sells out, and I said that I've never seen anybody actually wearing it except in Manhattan. And he said, where I live, it's not really worn by the sort of people who walk around on the street, they're taking a car service to some restaurant maybe.

    This sort of thing will never trickle down in its purest form, and would most likely get made fun of by those at the lower middle end of the spectrum. I'm not saying that it's better taste but it is a more refined and experimental level of taste.

    The "high" taste right now (for the last decade, say) has targeted pieces like Paul Evan's giant bronze credenzas, and is paying in the 6 figures for them, when I've posted examples in here, a lot of people said they wouldn't take one of these for free. ($219,000 at auction, if I recall.) The "middle" is just never going to go for it.

  • 9 years ago

    When I am doing a project that involves a renovation, meaning fixed things like tile, trim, light fixtures, flooring etc. I don't look at magazines at all. I want to make sure that I am primarily influenced by the house and not by what I am seeing in magazines.

    If I am decorating, I might start looking at magazines when I need to buy new accessories for someone.

  • 9 years ago

    I believe neither top nor bottom fall for trends like the middle do. So both are most likely starting the ideas that trickle to the middle where the ideas become common place and trendy.

  • 9 years ago

    For the middle, and I am lower middle, most don't have the architecture to support those credenzas. The one you posted is more user friendly than most of his, to me anyway.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't think people who spend $219,000 on a credenza are an "end"; i think they are a tiny tail. Considering that even much-ballyhooed "1%" only has annual income less than twice that, that credenza would have to be targeted at something well inside of 1% of the population, especially when you consider how fashion forward it is and how few people would conceivably be in the market for something so non-traditional.

    I think the credenza piece is kind of like haute couture. Almost no one buys the actual clothes, but everyone wants the sunglasses. And then it does get knocked off (altho the credenza looks like it was already knocked off of Nevelson.

    watered-down:

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The high end is completely driven by exclusivity and prestige. No offense Pal please, but I don't care for Paul Evans and wouldn't buy that credenza at any price. But those who can do and will because there is a scarcity value driven by age and condition. Even in décor circles there are design legends such as the late Henri Samuel. Someone like that is wildly influential in high end circles, just Paul Evans furniture would be, but virtually unknown otherwise.

    I don't think it matters. There's a great movie line where Anthony Hopkins, playing Hannibal Lecter, tells Jodie Foster "we covet what we see every day." I think that's true. If you never look at a magazine or watch tv you won't know as quickly that, say, black kitchens are in now. You may come to it on your own. Or not. But I don't feel that guarantees better design either way.

    Everyone's taste is different and formed in different ways. What's most popular and praised -- f.ex. the Pottery Barn look -- is most influential generally. I would call that middle . That doesn't mean to say it's good or bad. It's just what most like. On the high end that would be considered undesirable. On the low end it might be considered aspirational.

    In the US these things may be of concern. In Europe, there is less concern with trends, likely due to less social mobility. An English woman I knew through business once bought a chateau in France. She was going to use it for a travel to cook school. I said to her, Wow, what are you going to do about furnishing it. Her reply was, oh, there's a lot of furniture in my family.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am not trying to say that Paul Evans in particular is an example of what is considered the taste, or good taste at the very top of the market. Just that it is something that's currently collected at the top of a market and a good example of something that will not trickle down into the middle. And, it not only won't trickle down now that the studio pieces are rare semi-antiques, it never trickled down much when he was custom making it for people 40 years ago because it was too taste-specific even then. I know Lane made some knock off brutalist style pieces, but I don't know that was ever particularly popular. To me, like cheap Spanish-Mediterranean, this smacks of porn movies shot in the San Fernando Valley in the late 70s and early 80s: yuck.

    Evans I think, has a particular appeal to those with an affection for une jolie laide, so to speak, or the beautifully ugly. But the knockoffs fail to capture whatever it is that is compelling about the ugliness of the original.

    But I think there is another high end that is not particularly driven by anything other than quality, and there is a high end that is also driven by discretion so we won't ever see what their houses look like to emulate in any fashion, anyway.

    I went to grad school with a woman who had two pieces of Nakashima furniture in her apartment, one of which was a long-arm chaise.

    The value of these is currently in the stratosphere, back then it wasn't. She also had a number of other pieces of good antique furniture (mostly Biedermeier). The Nakashima had been bought new by her parents at a time when it was comparable to any other hand made or studio made furniture (maybe like Thos. Moser today)--not the stuff of museums.

    The reason she had it at the time was that her parents were doing a major renovation and these pieces were safer in her apartment than they were either in the house being renovated or in storage somewhere.

    But anyway, I can remember people commenting at the time about her weird and ugly furniture. They had no idea what it was, they had no interest in what it was either. It was never going to have an effect on the middle.

    Now, there is a fair amount of furniture that is heavily influenced by Nakashima, for example and while you may see some influences in the organic modernism of stuff at WestElm which is "low" in terms of budget and maybe a little higher in terms of design-intellect, and you see a more direct influences of both Nakashima and Evans at the "high" budget end from firms like BDDW--we aren't ever going to see this in the middle.

  • 9 years ago

    Well said and observed Pal.

    What's interesting to me is that these questions of trends come up. But I've rarely seen questions about elements that make a home comfortable. Or what's comfortable vs uncomfortable.

  • 9 years ago

    One is somewhat subject to trends due to availability when trying to find things to furnish a house. It's not that you want to be trendy, it's just what's there. It's very hard right now to find anything "off trend". Even in the fabric houses if you decide to sew, there isn't much that's really pretty anymore. It's all "trend" for the most part. It's frustrating to a lot of people out here that don't follow every trend but also can't find much of anything else. Not finding anything very pretty anymore or lust worthy and it seems very hard to put things together these days and feel that it will come out well,... at any budget. It seems in years past magazines would have pages that would literally bring tears to your eyes with the beautiful and artfully inspired rooms, not seeing that anymore. Sure, it's chic, it looks like a lifestyle, it's maybe even hip but it's not anything else.