Go HERE to read Stephen Drucker's take on the demise of Met Home and his thoughts on design with a capital D.
Here's the short essay for those to lazy to click:
What Is "Modern Design" Now?
With the closing of Metropolitan Home magazine last week, the design world lost a champion of modernism. There has been a great deal of breast-beating ever since: What magazines are left to fight the modern fight?
I salute Met Home and I'm sorry to see it go. But those old battle lines of modern-is-hip vs. traditional-is-stuffy just don't work for me anymore. I've had it with hip. We are drowning in hipness, in the blind worship of gallerylike rooms in glass-walled buildings that are to me the biggest cliché of all. Who isn't hip these days, when there are "next hot neighborhoods" and "artists' lofts" in every city, when everybody is drinking the vodka of the moment to the same thumping bass line in indistinguishable "boutique" hotels?
Now that we're all certifiably hip and modern, maybe we need to rethink what the word "modern" means today. To me, it's not just the lone-chair-in-an-empty-room stories in the T section of The New York Times; it's about the dynamic, original thinking going on across the working design community every day. Modern thinking is there to be found in every style, the traditional as well as the hard-edged ones. It's time we started judging the true originality of all design again, not just design with a capital D.
Haven't we learned by now: The coolest person in the room is usually the one who looks like the biggest geek.
The funny thing is, I haven't paid much attention to design with a capital D in a long time. I know it's still out there. The fact that W hotels are still invading new cities like Istanbul means the Starkly Modern and Hip program is still being distributed around the world as a kind of shortcut to style. But even though the Lady Blogger contingent may have leaned too far Regency in the last three years, I guess it's good to see that the group of bloggers I follow religiously doesn't do much genuflecting to Starkly Modern and Hip. Noguchi tables and Marcel Wanders and rope chairs for their own sake seem like ancient history. I like Drucker's idea of finding something "modern" in every style of design. I think a lot of this blog's readers here do this. We don't write off granny for the sake of it (unless there is actually a doily on a table, of course...).
But there is the problem, I think, of too much. The response to overly clever and spare design has often been to throw everything together, right? We talked about that HERE.
So here are the open topics:
1. So what is modern design now? Or, more specifically, who is getting it really right? Who's the most exciting designer working today? Post your thoughts to comments, and send in links and photos, too.
2. Didn't anyone at Met Home see it coming? Seriously, unless there is an alternate universe of design bloggers who worshipped at its altar, that magazine seemed really out of touch. Each issue was cold and painfully consistent. It was like eating chicken for dinner every night. Modern fucking chicken EVERY NIGHT. Was no one running around the offices saying, "Uh, we have a problem... Every issue of our magazine is like Dwell, except with no plywood, better hardware on the doors and an occasional Barbara Kruger on the walls. We have to change or die." Can someone with inside scoop give us the story, please?
The heartbreaking thing is that the magazine wasn't awful, and the designs weren't bad. It's that Met Home was religious about its point of view and too tasteful. They needed to put something offensive in there. Remember Elle Decor getting HATE mail over the John Derian feature? I couldn't even believe that people were so furious and offended by tattered furniture. I loved it. I mean, to be outraged over a sofa is so fucking awesome. I wish Met Home had evolved a bit, or even tried to offend its own sensibility now and again, just to keep it spicy.
3. I am not sure how to elegantly tie THIS really pitiful New York Times profile/slideshow to the demise of Met Home, but something is connected here. I think of these photos and the whole sad story makes me think of the reason Met Home lost its appeal to me years ago. The rooms didn't just look empty. They felt empty.