Interior design creates a better world

I recently read an article about Hans Christiansen (1866-1945), a German designer and artist who was a famous exponent of Jugendstil, as Art Nouveau is called in Germany. He and his colleagues strongly believed people would become better human beings if they were surrounded by beauty in their everyday lives.

Around the same time in the U.K. and U.S., luminaries of the Arts and Crafts movement such as William Morris and John Ruskin, followed by Frank Lloyd Wright, were creating antidotes to the conservative historicism and “soullessness” of the industrial age that dominated the culture at that time.

I believe we are once again entering a period where beauty, individualism and craftsmanship are prized values, and — although perhaps it’s idealistic — I believe this passion for aesthetics will indeed mold us into becoming better people.

For some time now, interior designers have found it fashionable to create eclectic combinations of styles. For example, within one space there might be traditional or mid-century furniture upholstered with modern fabrics; the minimalism of stainless steel, pure white and nihilistic black finishes; a stripped-back “loft” atmosphere with distressed, “pre-worn” (like holes in jeans) treatments; luxurious handcrafted products; etc.

Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel, Luxembourg
Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel, Luxembourg

Originality, crafts and unique solutions are what make us tick as designers, and the great news is that today’s new technology is providing the tools for us to create individuality this is affordable. The ability to digitally print on almost any material has instigated the revolution. Wall coverings, fabrics, carpets, glass and any other surface can be produced with an exclusive design for each project — and now this technique can be extended to the third dimension by 3-D printing.

What this new technology does of course mean is there is no real reason for today’s young designers to continually look back at “the good old times” and declare the “used look” to be chic.

Kurve Restaurant by Karim Rashid
Kurve Restaurant by Karim Rashid

From an esthetical and philosophical point of view, design expresses the zeitgeist, which currently seems to be adrift and, as no major design guide is given, “everything is allowed.” Consequently, young people embrace grandma’s second-hand style of living, and we create restaurants with traditional “Gemütlichkeit” to be hip. (The modern cool is very warm indeed!)

It seems we have the technical tools to create individual spaces through digital processing (2D and 3D), but so far we do not know which direction to go!

Is the future of design curved, squared, black and white or colorful? I don’t know, but I am sure retro design will not be the future in the long term! Although it might appear charming and full of sweet memories of grandma, yesterday’s design is not what will make the world better tomorrow. It’s time to create a new design language that will help to achieve in the 21st century what our forebears in the 20th century sought and in some respects succeeded in delivering.