Posts Tagged ‘maximalism’

The Comfort of Things, by Daniel Miller

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Geometric pattern on bedroom storage doors

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

“We live today in a world of ever more stuff – what sometimes seems a deluge of goods and shopping. We tend to assume that this has two results: that we are more superficial, and that we are more materialistic, our relationships to things coming at the expense of our relationships to people. We make such assumptions, we speak in cliches, but we have rarely trid to put these assumptions to the test. By the time you finish this book you will discover that, in many ways, the opposite is true; that possessions often remain profound and usually the closer our relationships are with objects, the closer our relationships with people.”

Aalto's Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, Finland

Shelves in house on Vancouver Island

Quote above is from The Comfort of Things by Daniel Miller, a UK anthropologist. Thanks to my friend Keith and his “Domestic Spaces” reading group for telling me about this book. I’m not convinced it’s not a tiny bit overoptimistic, but it’s entertaining and provocative. Its finding that belongings and decor both reflect and enhance social relationships is a relief from a perhaps puritan, protestant view that decor and acquisitiveness are an alienated substitute for those very relationships. Find the book here.

PS This doesn’t mean we should all go out and consume a lot of crap! For a more theoretical critique of why we collect, see Susan Stewart’s book On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection.

Photos here are from Flickr; click on them for more information. Exception is Glenn and Gina O’Brien in the swinging chair, by Todd Selby.


Italian architect Egle Amaldi's own living room

Vintage Tapestry for the cottage

Stereo wall, 70s living room

“… [Our subjects] put up ornaments; they laid down carpets. They selected furnishing and got dressed that morning. Some things may be gifts or objects retained from the past, but they have decided to live with them, to place them in lines or higgledy-piggledy; they made the room minimalist or crammed to the gills. These things are not a random collection. They have been gradually accumulated as an expression of that person or household.”

Seating platform, house of sculptor Sydney Butche

Roald Dahl's writing shed, picture gallery

SF loft, wood desk, Frankenstein painting

Tudor hunting folly

Todd Selby on mess

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Canadian House and Home recently asked photographer Todd Selby about the aesthetic of his photography and blog:

Q: What’s with all the crazy collections and homes with a borderline messy aesthetic?

A: My look is very of the culture. It’s a backlash to that super modern, dot-com, end of the ’90s era. It’s messy, human and organic. People tell me, “Your website makes me feel okay with collecting weird things, being messy, having weird shoes.” I never thought it would have any impact, but if it does, that’s amazing.

Photo above of Gerald de Cock, hairstylist, in his Chelsea Hotel apartment in New York. By Todd Selby. See also minimalism vs. maximalism: “minimum is maximum in drag.”


Ray Eames’ workspace vs. Charles Eames’ workspace

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Ray Eames' desk and workspace

There’s something compelling about Ray Eames’ desk area, papered with work and photographs. Many people seem to have a fierce aversion to clutter these days (driven no doubt by the storage furniture industry) but artists like to have materials and visual stimulation at hand in their studios and there’s some evidence that this supports the creative process. Charles Eames’ desk was interesting too, if a bit more austere. They each had the same beautiful adjustable trestle drafting table, but Ray sat facing her bulletin board full of images while Charles sat facing out into the room, and I’m sure there are plenty of theories about that. Photos are from Eames Office.

Charles Eames' desk and workspace

Minimalism vs. maximalism – “minimum is maximum in drag.”

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

John Pawson, architect, interiors

Donald Judd loft, Soho, NYC

It would be hard to count the number of times I’ve seen a photo of a beautiful minimalist interior in a blog and then scrolled down to the comments to discover that many people find it cold, sterile, clinical, unfit for kids, even morally reprehensible. Oddly, it’s the same thing with maximalist interiors – I see one I like, and then find people saying it’s too bohemian, it’s a hippie train wreck, degenerate, or the clutter gives them a headache. Recently The Guardian asked the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand to guest-edit the paper’s style section, and interestingly they brought up the question of this exact aesthetic divide by inviting architect John Pawson, a minimalist, and the artist Lucy Orta, whose home is maximalist, to talk about their different aesthetics. As it turned out, their ideas weren’t that far apart, just as the Rem Koolhaas quote in this post’s title suggests. What is Franz Ferdinand’s own aesthetic? “Minimalists and maximalists: as a band, we tend to write from the perspective of the former, but live from the perspective of the latter.”

Marc and Ian's place, The Selby

Photos: Top—Rooms by minimalist architect John Pawson. Middle: The loft of Donald Judd, one of the founders of minimalism in art. Bottom, room from The Selby, photographer Todd Selby’s addictive blog. We couldn’t find any photos of Lucy Orta’s art studio/living space, but The Selby contains dozens of real-life, unstyled, unfluffed maximalist interiors of artists and musicians. UPDATE: read new comments by Todd about maximalism. See also this fascinating NYT article on creativity and mess –  Saying Yes to Mess.