As architects and interior designers, we are regularly called upon to define a style. We have fun making up “titles” to describe what might be an unlikely combination of design elements and historic periods that somehow work together and beg to be described. Recently, we designed a wonderful residential project in Colorado that was finally labeled “Contemporary Organic Western w/Asian Influence”. It is a beautiful unique expression of the homeowner’s personal style and collections, composed of authentic Navaho rugs, indigenous ledgestone, large Western Cedar beams and huge expanses of glass, enveloping the views of the nearby mountains and a small stream running through the property. The delicate beauty of 16th Century Japanese porcelain and ancient Tibetan bronze gongs gave the project the resonance and the spiritual roots to pull the somewhat disparaging ingredients together, making a single melodic design statement. Old vs. New… Delicate vs. Robust… Powerful vs. Vulnerable….the tension of good (if complicated) harmony in design.
Speaking of styles, a few years ago “Tuscan” became the style to aspire to in design and architecture. We ran to the ends of the earth in search of anything that was old and worn out. We beat things up and dragged them behind trucks in the dirt to get the perfect level of antiquity. Somehow this sense of age seemed to give us a new outlook on our own lives…as if it were our own personal history. I believe we admire and long for the authenticity of a large family tree, a home that has been in the family for hundreds of years and has gradually grown to be what it is today due to the needs of subsequent generations of occupants. The random purpose of a property that is loved and developed by many connected souls blends the hearts and minds in a mosaic of experience, passion and personal expression. THIS is probably why we fell in love with “Tuscan” style; because we yearn for that deep sense of history and meaning! Our love of all things worn and used grew from our yearning for definition and recognition in our lives.
The reason I would encourage designers and DIY home enthusiasts not to try to recreate the romance and history of a “Tuscan”environment, or any other contrived environment, is simple…it’s not authentic. The most important thing in personal design is authenticity. Here is where I want to mention the website that everyone is using these days, Houzz.com. What a great source of photos with over 4,000,000 examples of every style and every kind of interior space imaginable! Janet Brooks Design is on this site showing examples of our interiors, as are many other good interior designers. However, the temptation for the DIY viewer is to pick a room they like and simply copy it. It’s just too easy, right? No…don’t! Copying is paramount to plagiarism, and you are essentially cheating yourself of the opportunity to express yourself, and to learn from the experience. Just as copying the answers to a chemistry quiz in high school was cheating because you never learned what you were there to learn, if your home reflects something you saw, rather than who you are, then in my humble opinion….you’re the loser.