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Do you Speak Designese?

Written by Rebecca Christian

Ever notice the way language reflects trends in design? Happily we have retired "bling" and any more we seldom subject readers to alarming interiors described as "eclectic," where everything from the vase that used to be a chamber pot (quirky) and the bathtub that used to be a cattle trough (whimsical) used to be something else. Now we're at least "upcycling" those chamber pots!

As a bibliophile, I was pleased when, a few months back, nearly every designer we interviewed used the verb "reads" for the way a design looks. Ie., "With a coffered ceiling and warm paint, the family room reads cozy." Or, "A casual checked material on the chairs keeps the dining room from reading too stuffy." And "Because it facilitates conversation, a round table reads friendlier." (Guess how friendly it reads depends on your family -- let's hope it doesn't read holding ancient grudges that are aired only at Thanksgiving!)

Museum directors must be pleased with the cache the word "curated" has achieved in the design world, though as an editor whose hall closet could use a tight edit (dog leashes jumbled with orphaned gloves, extension cords, corroded batteries, and a hat that makes me look like Aunt Bea), I like "well-edited" even better: "The home has a traditional shell with interiors that are quiet and well-edited." No loud interiors, please! We're trying to write here.

For the last couple of years, we don't seem to profile designers who are timid with color. They're all at least "fearless," if not "obsessed." A new meaning for OCD: Obsessive Color Disorder. And like the presidential candidates who are always trying to outdo each other's narratives (raised by wolves or at least by an impoverished single mother), we've become fearlessly obsessed with narratives ourselves. One of our recent articles was dubbed "Stories to Tell." My guess is that fearless color may be going the way of bling: lately we're hearing a lot about subtle, nuanced, hushed and whispering colors, bringing to mind a martini made with gin while the word vermouth is only whispered in the next room.

Meanwhile "bespoke," meaning custom-made, is being badly abused by the makers of mass-produced goods who claim their pressboard desks have bespoke details. At least they're finally giving "iconic" a rest -- if everything is bespoke or iconic, nothing is.

And who is the party responsible for starting this "loves, loves, loves" thing? I'd like a word, word, word with them. I for one love, love, love my grandbabies but I only love, love my living room, kinda like my bedroom, and actually hate, hate, hate my kitchen. Maybe I'd like it better if it had "rock-star chic," "rock-star glamour," or at least a whiff of "edginess." I wonder what rock stars say when they want to describe something glamorous? I'm willing to bet it's not "magazine editor-chic." I think the person who came up with "loves, loves, loves" was also the first to ask "Isn't that fabulous?"

Gosh, this reads edgy. Maybe I should curate myself!



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