The Social Statement of Artful Conception

Amy Lingard explores the prevailing trends of global interior design. Beyond its social display of consumer identity, it is a statement of the new feminine, a movement away from the predisposed ideologies of sexual character.

In our profoundly out-of-balance world it is not untenable to suggest that many of the worlds crises could be naturally rectified by bringing the most basic polarities back into balance. ‘Masculine’ and ‘feminine’ for instance, taken as metaphors for more than statements of gender, their frames rendering a clarity about what qualities are lauded, cultivated or condemned; motherhood, nurturance, empathy, delicacy, amid other hallmarks of femininity are still suppressed under the unilateral organization of patriarchal power. Now the fortunes are reversing, and the New Feminine paradigm is emerging.

With regard to interior design, creators are courting a new breed of consumer. The Instagrammer. While the thoughtful presentation of food and drink is not shy in social media, there is pressure on designers to consider the visibility of their product highlighted in countless feeds. From artwork to disposable coffee cups, wallpaper to lighting fixtures, no detail is too small as an extension of a business’s physical and intellectual space.

The world is more sophisticated about design and ever-so-quickly devours it. On its receiving end too, design tells a powerful story of self-obsessive consumer identity. More than eighty million photographs are uploaded to Instagram every single day encountering more than three-point-five billion ‘likes’ within that same period (Guardian 2016). We are obsessed with displaying what we have, from where, for how much and employing it as a statement of our position in life and in regard to others as an advertisement model. Perhaps, there is a correlation between significant increase in narcissism and social media use on this foundation, or perhaps everyone has narcissistic tendencies we are simply more aware of the existence of its traits due to its prevalence in the social media age. Consumerism is so deeply integrated in the visual culture of society, often we do not recognize our own utilization and what it comes to represent.

Social media’s display of interior design is a monolithic meaning producer. It circulates messages and signs about the nature of ‘feminine design’ and ‘masculine design’, that serve to promote and legitimate dominant yet silenced interests and build the equities of gender. It has been hard not to notice this year’s spring collections turning the ‘feminine’ all the way up. Interiors are putting womanliness on display in an unmissable way. The idea that women, if we desire the balance of genders, should live like men is destroyed, the concept of ‘living like a woman’ wholly redefined against the all too often hyper-delicate and outright sickly sweet.

It is not a return to an excess of shabby chic lace amid other clichés of feminine décor instead an evolving aesthetic that is classic with soft, eclectic spin. Pretty is back, but designers are bringing together edgy sleek lines and tradition in the creation of a modern mashup that forms the latest reactive approach to creating equality, the foundation of a culture of reverence for the feminine aspect in all of us.

To co-create the new feminine, one only has to consider the semiotics of current trends and then apply. Bright green is widely seen in décor, fashion and commercial design, named the 2017 Pantone Colour of the Year (Pantone Colour Institute) said to represent refreshment and revitalization. Mixed patterns, first spotted in New York Fashion Week in Fall 2017 – runway fashion a common catalyst and predictor of home space – anchor the comfort in ones’ room.

Navy as the new black, lends mystery to a space without making it feel small, combined with raw white unearthed and handmade supplying the beauty of imperfection in a natural and organic aesthetic. These features in combination with the layering of traditionally styled upholstery (the pleating and folding of patterned velvets and cottons) and modern pieces, clean, edgy and contemporary, make the feminine embellishments look fresh within any given context.

Modern bookcases, simple use of mixed metal accessories, softening faux textures including the seemingly omnipresent palm leaf print as a twist on floral, tailored lines and contemporary architectural lighting, instead of devaluing sensuality or soulfulness as weak or inappropriate or somehow inferior to linear discursive thinking, reclaims the orphaned aspects of the feminine self, starting to develop more aptitude in the realm of emotional intelligence.

Our current civilization has created a proliferation of material things like no other time in history. But we do not need more material things, nor do we need to amass more information, what we need is to integrate those aspects of ourselves as females which make our lives infinitely richer than any fabricated object will ever do. Interior design as one article, is a shift in the right way with the backing of social media vital in its proliferation and ensuing movement away from the predisposed ideologies of sexual character. The new take of unabashed, powerful and commanding femininity that leaves one questioning why the social determinants of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ ever existed originally.