Deborah Needleman At Spring Market
Last Wednesday Deborah Needleman, editor in chief of the WSJ Magazine and founding editor of Domino Magazine, gave the keynote address for the kick-off of Spring Market 2012 at the Decoration and Design (D&D) building in New York City.
The keynote set the tone for a day full of events that ranged from intimate talks by designer Murray Moss and architect Susan de Menil, to showroom open houses. There was even a blogger lounge where design and decor bloggers could tweet and post live from the event.
Needleman spoke about the current trends of tempering elegance with restraint in the worlds of food, fashion, photography, with examples of how this trend is translated into today’s decor. This concept basically refers to the idea of creating a feeling of tension between the luxurious and the simple.
Fashion photography was first on the list of topics. Needleman discussed the areas where this trend is evident and sited the May 2012 story from Wall Street Journal Magazine, Dream Weavers which featured fashion model Stella Tennant. “She’s [Tennant] a strong model with aristocratic blood but we photographed her in a blank, quite sterile environment. It creates a tension.” Needleman said.
The combination of Tennant’s image, which evokes a certain kind of elegance, combined with a non-elegant and simple background, created a feeling of restrained tension.
To illustrate this trend further, Needleman also used an image of a living room at Chatsworth (a grand English country estate).
A flokati rug was placed on top of an antique carpet and slip-covered chairs appeared as unexpected decor that ordinary traditionalists would probably not see as befitting this grand English country estate. “It’s all about lightening up luxurious decorating, making it feel homey and casual.
Like antique and vintage fabrics, particularly those from other cultures, using them signals that you’re literally letting people in.” remarked Needleman. Examples of this include ethnic fabrics on lampshades, something she calls “charming” and piling on “loads of pillows and even leaving supplies out, which gives a sign of life, like a coat rack.” She emphasized the importance of making a space personal, warm, cozy, and inviting while letting the simple elements speak for themselves.
Needleman went on to explain how food trends might also influence decor. Movements like farm to table, gastropods, and other specialized restaurants “are creating a sense of place, storytelling, and underscoring simplicity,” she said. The key word here is: simplicity.
Most restaurants that serve highly specialized cuisines tend to present the food in a simple manner with simple decoration, while letting the taste of food speak for itself. An image of Yves Saint-Laurent’s living at his home in Tangiers, perfectly illustrates this approach with one chintz pattern covering all the chairs and sofa, in a simple white room.
The simple stands out while the overly patterned chintz looks perfect. Another example of restrained tension décor was exemplified in an image of a fancy table placed in the middle of a meadow surrounded by trees. It was so out of place, yet it looked perfect. Decoration trends do not refresh as often as fashion trends.
Therefore, it’s easier to see shifts in the trends in fashion than decor. Needleman said that there’s something great about looking at one frivolous item paired with something simple and streamlined – both in fashion as well as decor – such as this look from the runway of Italian fashion designer Valentino.
She used Pauline de Rothschild’s living room as another example, pointing out its kooky furniture arrangement and lack of art on the walls. Needleman commented, “It’s a virginal innocence combined with a richness. Something so wrong, it’s right.”