A last chapter, a fresh take on artful, modern classics and Tumblr, OMG, Ah'm Luvn' This
Fittingly, Gillian Newberry's excellent book about Geoffrey Bennison closes with a chapter touching on the interiors he began for Isobel Goldsmith. Bennison was halfway through this work when he died of a stroke, leaving his team of craftsmen to create what they, from long experience, knew he wanted to achieve. And, judging by these photographs of the library, they succeeded superbly.
Occasionally, I mention misgivings I have, (beliefs or prejudices, depending on your point of view) about the ability for the modern generation to deal with complexity in design, beyond what, risibly, is called layering. Buying specially-made trinkets usually dignified with the name Home Decor by famous personages whose seasonal "new arrivals" purportedly are "fresh takes of artful, modern classics" and scattering them – oh, excuse me! punctuating an interior with them – ain't layering a room any more than draping codswallop across a chandelier would be. But, let me not get carried away, for I have my prejudices.
Complexity in the way that Geoffrey Bennison dealt with it, for me, and I hesitate to use this analogy, is like the complexity of a well-made fruitcake. For those of you who only know the commercial variety, or only know of it, and merely subscribe to the perennial joke about fruitcake, the real thing made from the best ingredients, following a recipe from the early twentieth-century, well-matured, offering multiple yet unified layers of texture, color, and flavor, should come as a very pleasant surprise – much, in fact, as Bennison's rooms should after the celebrity-ridden, undiscerning mid-century-fetishism, and disagreeable flash of the last few years.
I am by no means advocating a return to late-ninetheenth century eclecticism, even if Bennison's style were such – there's enough last-century historicism being peddled right now, with more to come, without that – but what I will say is that I question whether anyone knows anything any longer or, worse, cares to. Where are the people who will write the next generation of scholarship? Where are the Israel Sacks of this generation? The Margaret Jourdains; the Geoffrey Beards; the John Cornforths or the Peter Thorntons? Where, as important, are those that will read the books yet to be published? These aren't rhetorical questions, at least not to me, because I have a distinct and sinking feeling that no longer is it true, culturally speaking, that no man is an island.
A strange idea, that residential design teaching is at a low point, given the number of so-called design schools there are in this country but, based on my experience as Chair of a CIDA-accredited interior design department at the time undergoing an, ultimately successful, reaccreditation process, and what I have subsequently heard about local schools, I am sure that residential design teaching is at its lowest standing ever. Surprising, or not, given what one sees in the magazines and most of the so-called designer monographs. I'll return to this.
The more Tumblr takes over from the OMG,Ah'mLuvn' This blogs(the literary kind)the more saturated and bored one becomes for, seemingly, everybody is "reblogging" from each other. It is as if posting a reblogged image alone is sufficient and obviates the need for further commentary. The really good thing is that one can see how bad the state of the industry is and how good of the really bad stuff is thought to be.
Did I just write "The really good thing is … "? OMG*
*OMG According to Scott, no-one over fifty should be using OMG when texting. Emojis are still allowed. Phew!
Photos are from the book which I stress is really worth having in your library, on your coffee table and in your hands to read.
An interior design history enthusiast and in my own way an erstwhile chronicler of those I call the Lost Generation - those men, some of them gay and many of whom died of AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, and who are to a great degree forgotten.