In design, the only constant is change

by Patricia Cove
Posted 4/1/21

Over the past few weeks we have taken a look at design as it has evolved over the past 100 years or so and focused on its influences, whether they be social, political, industrial or originate from a totally different impact.

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In design, the only constant is change


Over the past few weeks we have taken a look at design as it has evolved over the past 100 years or so and focused on its influences, whether they be social, political, industrial or originate from a totally different impact.

We saw how industrialization played an integral role in both the Victorian and Modern eras, how a social backlash to mechanism resulted in the Arts and Crafts movement and how the advancement of high speed air and locomotive travel triggered the Art Deco style in architecture and design.

The years leading up to the end of 2019 seem almost stagnant when it comes to design influences.  Young married couples continued to find the closest Restoration Hardware in order to buy their living room furniture and sourcing popular internet sites became the past time of people renovating their kitchens and bathrooms. As 2019 progressed, and we began to experience some jarring political episodes, along with social unrest, it was the beginning of the pandemic that actually resulted in some very transformative developments in the areas of design.

People of different ages handle the confinement and worry of the pandemic in different ways.  But it has been discovered that the inability to escape our homes, to travel, or to even go to a real store to shop has led to a huge increase in all the possibilities that the internet can offer. Thanks to Instagram influencers, people sitting in their dens every day have discovered the unique qualities that antique and vintage furnishings can bring to an otherwise boring and hum drum interior.  Younger buyers have become increasingly attracted to hard-to-find items and designer names they may have only just discovered.

Celebrity parties and vacation pics have been replaced with shots of sumptuous living rooms sporting pairs of Marcel Breuer chairs or a Federal  sideboard teamed with a Mies van der Rohe chaise. All of a sudden, time is spent scrolling through photos of spaces that have been designed using a combination of new and old, modern and traditional, and the world is starting to take notice. You can see how the design comes together on Instagram and then you can go to Pinterest to see where to buy the pieces that create the design.  Antique dealers say their clientele has become better educated, and with more time to delve into all things old and new, rooms are beginning to display more creativity, antiques are beginning to look fresh again and, need I say it, gray walls are looking quite drab.

Within the past few months, I have read numerous articles claiming that there is a new market for historic homes due to the fact that owners are seeking surroundings that are calmer, more peaceful, offer the chance to live in spaces that contain a living history and hold a greater connection to nature. There also seems to be a greater appreciation for simplicity, and living in a historic home is not only a reminder of how simple life used to be, but also provides the opportunity to live in “greener,” more environmentally friendly surroundings.

With these new realizations and the demand for historic homes growing greater each week, developers are also realizing the importance of retaining these structures in lieu of demolishing something significant only to be replaced by the common monolith. 

What we have experienced over the past two years, has resulted in an observable and quite distinct shift in our living habits, the architecture we want to surround us and the interior spaces that reflect a calmer, more historic aesthetic. We are going through a period of change, one like we have not seen in a very long time. And I get the feeling that these are only the first of many design shifts we will see as the next few years progress.  It will be interesting to watch these transitions take place and even more interesting to see who will recognize them grasp their significance and be on the forefront of a new and exciting direction in architecture and design.

Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill and can be reached through her web site:

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