Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ogling Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel Photography

Lately, well, this past week anyway, I was doing a design style contrast with Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. Actually I was ogling Pottery Barn's aesthetic the way some people ogle muscle cars. The furniture hasn't actually changed a heck of a lot from 10 years ago. There are some new pieces, new slipcovers and so on. But one change is the more determined use of color. That's more obvious on the blankets and duvets (yeah, you're spending some bucks to have this stuff; that hasn't changed) and pillows. There used to be an almost fierce reliance on whites and pastels and cream colors. Now they don't seem content with splashes of color. Now it's everywhere, and I think that's a welcome change. It's much warmer and more accessible. They're calling their latest branding effort "The Art of Living". I dig it.

What then to say of Crate & Barrel? They had a flirtation about a decade ago with some old French Country stuff that offset their more minimalist sensibilities. But they've since abandoned that for full-on contemporary styling. Clean lines. Bright colors. Everything nice and shiny. I get it. I can even appreciate it on a not-so-subtle level. More so than I can appreciate, say, IKEA. You can easily imagine this aesthetic in NYC or just about any urban upscale setting. It works great in lofts or apartments or really modern looking suburbs. All the newlyweds I've known recently registered there.
So what's the point of me going on about this? To discuss tastes?


The point of the exercise was to help me define my own design identity and value statement. Every artist has what's called a "visual vocabulary", a sort of language or personality that develops over time. I was using the two aesthetics to help me define mine so I could articulate it to people if I needed to. It helped me see the way that I prefer to create images, how I like to place them and what kind of feel I want them to have. So you could say I really respond to Pottery Barn's use of light and color in their images. I love how they've staged the pieces and shot them. I also respond on another level to Crate & Barrel's cool, clean aesthetic. I enjoy their use of bright colors and modern settings, but it's not as ultimately satisfying for me as an artist to go to that well all the time. It might be necessary for a particular client, but I might want to suggest an approach that feels more "organic", for want of a better term.

And that helps me define my own visual identity.

More later


Friday, July 23, 2010

New Design Blog

I happened upon a new blog for designers this week. It's called Statements by Thesis.
This would be the first blog I would recommend to all...four or five of you who might get a kick out of reading about what designers contemplate in the profession. Basically, these people post "thought papers" about trends and patterns in the design profession, and they address particular issues with what I feel is quite startlingly forward thinking insight. I've already commented a couple of times. They publish once a month, and their latest post is from a designer who admits to a dirty little secret that no one dares share lest they be ridiculed (or worse!). The link is here, and I'll be adding it to the list of blogs I read.

Okay, I'll be starting the list of blogs I read with this one. As soon as I figure out how to make the list.

More later