One of the most common questions I get asked is, "Is this a trend or a classic?" Everyone shares those doubts and everyone wants to have a stylish, yet 'timeless' home. Can you have both? How do you know if that is where you area heading? How do you know if you are going to fail miserably and end up in a an outdated home, faster than the latest issue of San Diego Home and Garden comes out? The answer is simple to explain, but takes some critical thinking to apply:
#1. What is the function?
When we evaluate function, it is different for every piece and unique to each of us. If the particular design trend serves a serious function (like a waterfall counter top next to the toilet in a boy's restroom...waaaay easier to Lysol than the exposed side of a cabinet) You have a lasting design element there, that for years to come, will be understood and appreciated as an innovative way to solve an everyday problem...Timeless!
On the other hand, if the concept serves no purpose, you might have a statement with an expiration date (Remember the wood paneled walls from the 60's and 70's, the explanation for that trend relates to the technological innovation of a cost effective way to give the appearance of solid wood paneling, but served no real function, other than to try to look expensive...and out it went)
#2. Has it ever been used in that application in the past?
The past always repeats itself...At least the part of the past that is worth repeating, when it comes to design decisions. If it is coming back, it is likely because there is a darn good reason . No one has yet to say..."I really miss that avocado green shag" That is not to say that there are not plenty of attempts at bringing the old back in style, but when we are doing so, we need to evaluate it based on function and practicality. Additionally, we can determine if the response to a product was ever 'Yuck!' It is safe to say you should steer clear. As an example, oak is back in, but man was it ever out, just ten years ago. What happened? The finish and cut of wood has been modified, and now it is hot again. Oak is a cost effective and extremely durable wood, fantastic for flooring and cabinets...Hence, it is allowed to return.
#3. Does it fit with the style of the existing home?
Not all of us can afford to completely gut our existing home. Consequently, a modern theme in a Tuscan style track home is hard to make work. If a trend does not coordinate with the style of your home, when it is in your home it will look very forced, and will be outdated pretty quickly.
#4 What is the quality of the product?
Did you know that one of the main reason that mid-century modern is so hot, is that it is last era that the general public purchased a high quality furniture product (Now, that will be another post, in and of itself!) Mass produced furniture, has created an industry where the general public rarely ever even sees what a quality piece of furniture looks like. However, if and when you see one, you will know what I mean.
A quality product is timeless, you can see it in the finish and construction. It will still look almost new after five or ten years. Old furniture looks dated, but if you buy quality, apply the principles I am giving you and take good care of it, you will have the timeless, classic piece you hoped for!
#5 Does it follow the "Rules of Design"
Stand by for a separate post on this subject...the rules of design are like the Gods of the Copybook Headings...They will with terror and slaughter return!
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gods_of_the_Copybook_Headings for those of you who need a quick lesson on those!)
As artists, we tend to try to push the envelope and be creative and different. However the correct use of balance, pattern, rhythm, scale, color and texture, are still the rules that our eyes live by. While we may be attracted to things that are different, because they seem out of the ordinary, if a trend does not follow the simple rules, it won't last long. Understanding these rules, and how to apply them, will act as a fantastic guide to navigating design trends.
#6 Do you like it?
This may seem like a simple question, but a deep understanding of your own style, and a confidence is key. If you have never liked a design element, and all of the sudden, you want it in your home, you should be pretty hesitant. 'Liking' something does not necessarily mean it belongs in your home and understanding why you like it, is vital. Is it just unique or does it speak to you in some other way. Determine what you like about it, why you like it, and if this is outside or inside of the realm of things you have liked in the past.
There is no one trend that under no circumstances will not return, or stay in style, however, the key to making the right choice for your home is understanding that while it may be cliche, form really does follow function, and your unique style is one you should feel confident in. Being assertive in what you like and what you need, and being discriminating, when it comes to your evaluation of trends, understanding that sometimes fresh ideas are like groceries, they can go bad.