Who are we to judge? Who has the right to attest what is good or bad taste? Is it universally accepted that the scrunchie went out with the £1 note? The debate on good and bad taste is one that resonates with every person in the world, it is the thing that makes us truly unique, our tastes can be as varied as our faces.
I am often consulted on design and style but is that really affected or attributed to taste? I would argue that taste is the area that blurs the lines between style and design. Design starts first and foremost with an intention of practicality with aspiration to create something that will enhance life and yet bring with it elements of altruism in reaching the pinnacle of lifestyle and design perfection. When you introduce taste into that mix you suddenly have the question of designers approaching things with their own agenda, maybe that is taste?
Grayson Perry said “The conclusion that I came to is that the real ‘Berlin Wall’ of the taste landscape is between the lower middle and upper middle class. It’s made out of education, a kind of knowingness, an understanding, a bit of confidence, and ease with the whole thing. It’s almost as if the moment you understand it you realise ‘does it actually matter?’ It’s about awareness as well. If you’re insecure about the track you’re on, if you don’t know what the landscape is either side of it, you’re very desperate to stay on the track, but if you’re confident you stride off into the undergrowth and say ‘it’s just as nice out here’.” That’s what makes a designer a designer, the confidence to forge ahead with creating a scheme, product or pattern with the bravado that their taste is, to the best of their educated knowledge, the best [at that time] for time can change taste.
When posed with the question on Facebook of ‘what really sums up bad taste for you when it comes to interiors?’ I was amazed at how specific the answers I received were;
- Doilies & plastic runners (No doilies? but what do you put under your cakes?)
- Pedestal mats
- Doll’s faces
- Porcelain Shire horses
I personally love a quirky animal ornament, especially when it’s a Jonathan Adler design but maybe the porcelain shire horse association harks back to an association of a person or experience that made this person think about bad taste. Bad taste can be accrued, the celebrity culture of the UK has a habit of bringing particular things (think Burberry check) to epidemic levels of ‘trend’ and thrusting it well and truly into the land of overkill. Our taste is just that and no matter who we are we like to feel that the choices we make within our levels of taste belong to us, so overexposure immediately makes us part of the crowd. If we are all going to be part of the crowd we may as well not have choices, a land of prescribed beige and monotony awaits all those who won’t engage with taste whether good or bad!