Good Design is Never out of Style

Several years ago and before I was in the decorating business, I was looking at a contemporary room at a decorator showhouse.  I commented to my companion that the room was interesting, but would go out of style.  The decorator made his presence known by pronouncing,

  " Good design is never out of style."

  I  have thought about that statement over the years and decided it may have some truth to it.   What exactly are the criteria that determine if a design is good?

While certainly the subjectivity of individual preference is always an issue, there must be some universal standards that apply.

A good design has staying power.

  It should not look foolish or silly

in five or ten years.  The return of the lava lamp could have many

explanations  but great design is not one of them.  Repeating the design

mistakes of the 50's (Retro) is nostalgic and interesting to someone

who did not live through it the first time around.  My point is if these

things had been good design, they would never have disappeared in

the  first place.  The Classics  never go out of style and if good design

should stand the test of time, classics are the past,present and future.

Good design should have utility.

  That is, it should be easy to maintain

provide physical comfort,  and visual pleasure.

Good design should have longevity.

  It should wear well, keep your

interest without demanding it.   If the visual pleasure should lessen , it should not have elements that

will become annoying.

A good design should answer the following questions:

     1.  What is the purpose of the room?

     2.  What will be the natural traffic flow?

     3.  What are the lighting needs?

     4.   What effect does the size and placement of windows have on the room?

     5.   Which elements should be accented, which ones played down?

     6.   Does the room have a natural focal point, a view or architectural detail etc.     If not what will

            the theme or focal point be?

When I decorate a room I want the person seeing it for the first time to think,  "What a beautiful room."   Along with  all the other considerations, this is achieved by 


Except in rare situations where a room is designed to show off

some exceptional detail, all elements in the room should be so


well coordinated that at first view, nothing demands attention

over anything else.

At this point the details become important.   How the windows

are treated.  The carvings or shape of the furniture,  the textures

and patterns of the fabrics, the effect of the lighting, the  accessories

and collectables.  The


are  crucial to the room's ability to

keep your interest over the long haul.  Just be careful to remember that the details should be noticed

last.  They support the design.  If the details detract from the overall impact of the room, they are

too strong.   As always it is essential to know when to stop adding.   To me "elegance" is achieved

by to the edge of tacky, looking over and then taking a few steps back.

Bill Gantt