Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I wonder

It is no secret that the current turbulence in the international economy has bumped and bounced its way into every facet of life. Those of us in interior design have not escaped being jostled along with everyone else. Indeed, with the downturn in the housing market, we are perhaps more seasick than some within this rickety economic boat. Perhaps we were all in need of being pulled up a little - in need of cooling off, slowing down, reassessing our values. I prefer to think that we will all emerge from this fluctuation a kinder people with more emphasis being placed on the things that truly matter. And that can only be good.

All that being said, as I opened the mail last week and saw my invitation to the closing of a venerable furniture showroom, one I had relied upon for my clients for years, my heart sank, and I wondered .... with all the discount and DIY places sprouting up like nettles, what is to become of the true craftsmen, those men and women who spend the time it takes to create true works of art in furniture; pieces of heirloom quality that are destined to be handed down through generations. Will these artists be forced to lay down their rare and considerable talents in search of alternative means of support, thereby depleting this cadre of artisans, bit by bit, until it evaporates completely? And more depressing still, will anyone notice?

I am a consistent champion of individuality and I cheer when someone interprets their own personality within their home, at any price point. But at present, I look around at what seems to me to be rather trivial, disposable design offerings and I wonder if any of these will be around in a hundred years. Or worse, will our eyes become so accustomed to the pedestrian that we will no longer be able to appreciate the extraordinary? Will there still be those who see the value in the handmade over the mass produced? In the future, will anyone remember Fortuny fabrics or George Smith sofas? - a Henredon four-poster or a Zuber papered dining room? Or will all this beauty disappear into the land of once upon a time.
Will cost finally win the battle over worth?
I wonder.

The image above is from the Zuber wallpaper mural,
Mer Glaciale (The Sea of Ice) 1854