Tag Archives: style

Aesthetic Preference – Mid Century Modern

Rialno Designs

As we move forward into the new century, Mid-Century Modern refers to a period increasingly distant in the past. In this case even the word “Modern” refers to what now seems a quaint retro aesthetic – but one that has seen a rediscovery in recent years, especially in interior décor and furniture.

The Mid Century Modern style is characterized by simple, geometric shapes with an emphasis on the horizontal. Related to Danish Modern, the woods of furniture tend to be light in color. Surface details are minimal, with the emphasis on repeated shapes rather than textures.

Furnishings are often low in over all height but still float above the floor on think legs, rather than anchored with weight like Traditional or Art Deco styles. Close to Minimalism, the furniture tends to sleek and slim – never overstuffed or puffy. Alternatively, pieces display amoeba type shapes, again reflecting the post war fascination with science, and new technology.

Stylized botanical print

The textiles and art work of the era include barkcloth – a heavy plain weave cotton – usually printed in either large muted stylized florals or sci-fi/technology themed motifs. It was the dawn of the atomic age, and the designs that looked so futuristic then, look so fun and retro today. Both original yardage and reproductions of these fabrics are available today, and are used to restore original pieces as well as make focal point or accent pieces.

Vintage Mid-Century Modern pieces look cool upholstered with contemporary fabrics and colors. Wooden pieces like sideboards or floor lamps tend to work great as individual statement pieces. If you furnish a whole room with the style using reproduction textiles, you might find you look like you live in a 1960’s sitcom.

Finding it

  • In the 1959 scandalous melodrama A Summer Place, the film shows a pointed visual distinction between the traditional Victorian style boarding house, the titular summer place, and the new Frank Lloyd Wright designed modern home where the unfaithful spouses take up residence. Ultimately they are considered the better people, the film having gone to considerable lengths to highlight the inadequacy and downright evil of their first spouses.

Interior of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Clinton Walker House as used in the movie. The public living areas are on the street level, while you go downstairs to the bedrooms.

(In an interesting piece of cultural trivia, the posters of the American version of the hit film feature the young lovers, Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee, as the beleaguered lovers who learn the folly of judgmental attitudes. However the Italian versions of the poster highlight the parents’ steamy sexuality, and their story of love rediscovered. I can only imagine this reflects the different mores and attributes of the ideal between the two cultures.)

  • Jacques Tati’s humorous masterpiece, Mon Oncle (1958) makes much of some of the extreme characteristics of the futuristic style, especially the furniture.
From Jaques Tati's Mon Oncle

The interior of the modern home

Life in the future

  • The USS Enterprise  NCC-1701
Photopin.com

Photopin.com

  • North by Northwest (1959) – it is interesting that this architectural style was often used to signify wealth and luxury.

Aesthetic Preference – Shabby Chic

Lois Crowley Heritage layout

Lois Crowley Heritage Layout

I’m talking about Shabby Chic this week, because it follows on so sweetly from Romantic Country Cottage.

The term was coined, and trademarked, by textile artist and interior designer Rachel Ashwell. The style in home decor is characterized by a lot of whitewashing and very pale pastels. The accessories, textiles, and furniture are usually old or look old with intentional distressing. The watchword is Texture.

Hallmarks of shabby chic style include using glamorous and luxurious elements like gorgeous chandeliers in casual settings, and layering folk art elements like quilts and lace tablecloths.

There are two ways to achieve the worn and distressed look on furniture or other items. The most effective, in my opinion, is to sand back the paint at the edges, high spots, and places where “wear” would naturally occur. Using a nice wax based colored polish will add patina.

The other way is to add paint in a rough, even sloppy, way so that the underlayers show through. The best way to achieve that is to use crackle paint finishes, which are designed to shrink as they dry and reveal the underlayers as if they were aged in the sun and rain over decades.

Shabby chic designs include laces, textures, and frayed edges. Printed and stenciled texts remind us of old flour sacks or tea chests. Chalkboard – black with white lettering – is another recently popular element. Empty picture frames, sometimes stacked, suggest the idea of incompleteness.

A shabby garden would have more white flowers, and wild flowers, rusty metal elements, old bathtubs filled with shrubs, lavender (again) and peonies. Clothing would include antique and Victorian lace blouses, tulle layers, granny boots and textured tights (roll on winter). I think faded velvet shawls too.

To me fairy tales sometimes feel shabby chic – the cottage in the forest that is run down and filled with old books, the strange old castle with wrought iron fencing.

Here’s how I described it in my shabby chic treasury:

Simple, aged, distressed, neutral colors & pale, weathered, folk. Old lace. Connection, history, folk tales, burlap, farm house, sheers. Timeworn. Miss Haversham. “To Kill a Mockingbird”. “Picnic at Hanging Rock”.

To this I would add pale lilac, mint green, robin’s egg blue, blush. Wabi-sabi all over again.

Quail Eggs in a dish

Quail Eggs in a dish

Ways to Bring the Shabby

It’s popular because it’s easy.

One way to add shabby chic elements to your decor is to paint vintage or old things – tins, hooks, wood boxes, candlesticks, ornate picture frames – with white or pastel paint and sand the edges. The paint color adds a unifying aspect.

Another is to bleach floral prints and incorporate plain muslins, lace, crochet in cream string, doilies, and many layers of sheers as the textile elements – drapes, table cloths, pillows and slipcovers.

Include vintage and aged garden accessories – especially urns, wire frames from topiary work, and baskets.

Add nostalgic and memory elements – like hanging a vintage baby’s christening robe on a twisted wire hanger among a bunch of silk hydrangeas. Use old pewter and tarnished silver cups and jugs. Mercury glass.

Bring architectural elements, carvings and castings, that might normally be on the exteriors inside.

Shabby looks great in company with industrial, mid-century modern, or minimalism, and loves Beach Cottage style too. However, in my opinion, it doesn’t work as well with Traditional – since it either looks like you aren’t done refinishing the rest of the furniture, or that you have a bunch of old stuff that needs refurbishing. In a house full of very Traditional furniture, I would stick to a few pillows, and small items.

There are a lot of scrapbookers using shabby chic style in their layouts. It works especially well with a touch of glam – silver beads, tiny rhinestones, pearls and old buttons.

Family Ancestors mini-album

Family Ancestors mini-album

Because it is all about the white, it is also a very popular wedding theme.

Plus it’s a great way to affectionately showcase beloved heirlooms.

Carved old mirror

Carved old mirror

 

Please visit my Shabby Chic Aestheric Preference Pinterest Board to see more examples. Do you love it? 

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Aesthetic Preferences

Beautiful Roses

Blushing roses

I have come up with the concept of “Aesthetic Preferences” to mean people’s taste and the kind of home decor, literature, clothing, visual arts and performing arts that lifts their spirits, makes them feel comfortable and beautiful, and ignites their creativity. Essentially it is the style they prefer.

I was developing these as a path to understanding the kind of look and aesthetic my prospective scrapbooking clients might want for their layouts.

I started listing them and came up with about 20, but I think there will be more. Some the really visible or prevalent ones popular today include Shabby Chic, Steampunk, and Modernist. Others include Traditional, French Country, Cottage, Prim, Mid-Century Retro, Craftsman, Shaker, Tribal, Beach and Asian.

One place where I have been able to illustrate them has been on Etsy through treasuries. These are a nice way to support other handmade artists, promote my own shop, and gather visual material together. Please visit my Treasuries Page to see them. I started numbering them, so I think I’ll visit them here over time in the same order.

Aesthetic preferences are a continuum, sliding from one to the next in eclectic moments.

Just as nobody likes only one kind of cuisine,  as far as I can tell, nobody likes only one aesthetic style. People will respond positively to more than one, and most likely they will be influenced by how “well realized” the style may be. But people’s preferences change with time, with personal maturity, with lifestyle changes, even with fashion.

As a film and theater designer I often had to work with multiple aesthetic styles to reflect the characters, sets, locations. Scripts and plays would be part of an aesthetic, that informed the design. But why should you concern yourself with defining your own aesthetic preferences?

  • Exploring images always inspired my creative thinking. You too can be inspired just by researching.

  • Discovering your own Aesthetic Preferences can help your creativity by giving definition to your plans. If you want to make something for yourself or your home, you have a starting point.

  • Understanding other people’s aesthetic preferences will help you when you want to make or buy something for them. It can also help you define your target market if you are in business.

  • Possibly examining your aesthetic preference could lead you to finding your creative blocks or fears. Do you find some aesthetic overwhelming, or too hard to realize? Do you fear that you will be judged for your preferences or taste?

  • Examining aesthetic preferences can give you a clear idea of what you don’t like, in the quest for deciding – and expressing – what you do like.

  • As we move forward with different AP’s, think about the fundamentals of each one, to discover the principles and criteria that define the AP – then they can be applied to your other work, other media.

Aesthetic Preference #1 – Romantic Country Cottage.

Here’s the description from the treasury page – I don’t think I can top it:

 Mix cabbage roses, liberty prints & chintz. Tea in cups. Favorite author: immortal Jane Austen, but also some Tolkein, Wodehouse, Shaw. Miss Marple, not Poirot. Old Merchant/Ivory before Helena BC went all Tim Burton. Cold Comfort Farm. Herbs & lavender.

Think of toile printed fabric – there’s that Jane Austen again – and old leather bound journals too, lace collars and irish linen with sprigs embroidered. Little House bonnets and pinafores. Hollie Hobbie takes it linear.

Cottage garden

Cottage Garden at Stop Street

Core Concept: Nostalgia.

At one end Romantic Country Cottage sits next to charming Chinoiserie with painted turquoise tea cups or  blue and white china, at the other it creeps towards Art Nouveau and looks over the hedge at Craftsman. Bleach the chintz (lessen the contrast) and it fades to Shabby Chic.

One of the aspects of this that sets it apart from the much newer aesthetic neighbor, Shabby Chic, is brighter color and greater tonal range – more contrasts. The idea is to choose related prints in close color ways but in different scales to create variation in texture. Simpler two tone textures, like stripes or ticking, create rests for the eye. The colors featured are usually pastels mixed with gelato brights, but with some darker shades of the core colors. There will often be a sense of depth.

I think I’ll start a Pinterest Board devoted to each preference as I mention it. (Please visit and repin)

As far as scrapbooking, there is so much very pretty vintage look floral paper, so many borders, embellishments and pearl button stickers, that it’s actually very easy to achieve. Most people tend to want to take it distressed, and that’s perfectly fine. Make it masculine with earth tones and navy blue, add ticking stripes and more of that brown leather. “A River Runs Through It” to Americana.

Chintz pattern Tea Set

Chintz pattern Tea Set

Is this your favorite style? Do you love overstuffed sofas in chintz with mismatched throwpillows, and walking through an overgrown wildflower garden wearing a big hat and thinking of Marianne Dashwood? Sweet teacakes on a floral platter, and butternut squash soup in a tureen.

And pretty aprons!

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