Addison rings in the New Year with an old rant.
Addison DeWitt -- Interior Design, 1/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
WE LOVE HOTELS, as this, our first annual Hospitality Awards issue, plainly demonstrates. What we don't love is the typical style of photographing hotels, a style that suggests nothing other than promotional tourist brochures or, worse, cheap pornography for travel agents. Shoots are typically accessorized in the most embarrassingly overwrought style. What's most dismaying, though, may not be the lack of taste in the styling of these shoots, but rather their numbing sameness. Although we were not formally asked to join the top-drawer panel of judges of the Interior Design Hospitality Awards, we nevertheless crouched under the conference table to espy the proceedings. The slide show was, well, revelatory: over and over again, we saw a pathetic wooden fish set out as a table ornament; we saw exhaustingly elaborate table settings evidently intended to evoke feasts worthy of Trimalchio; we saw a lot of icky tropicalia. Most ubiquitous and disturbing, however, were the stylists' sad attempts to conjure the luxe life: viz. the preponderance of champagne flutes, toothsome truffles, smoldering cigars, and Manolo Blanik mules strewn pell-mell as if Sharon Stone had just yielded to one of her basic instincts. It became rather hard to see the actual designs amid the mélange of signifiers of uptown swank. Advice to stylists: eliminate the clutter.
While we're on the subject of styling, let's talk about Mother Nature. Ah, how the gentle subject of nature transports us back to our giddy, open-hearted adolescence! Then, on a grassy knoll (are knolls ever anything other than grassy?), we would sit with a volume of Wordsworth or Rousseau, feeling positively engorged with pantheistic rapture. Well, maybe things have changed. Nature is a perennial theme, and a great source of inspiration, but seeing it tirelessly recycled in the design trade as a badge of sensitivity is getting a little wearing. Grass itself has come a long way from the suburban terrain of our youth; in our present workaday world, we are treated to a flat of grass as a decorative element in fancy apartments, corporate waiting rooms, holistic spas, even carpet showrooms. Evidently, an elaborate floral arrangement would send the wrong message, whereas grass is tasteful, discreet, smart. We want to restate our commitment to the environmental movement, but nevertheless, we think that paying lip service to environmentalism through nature-oriented decorative motifs often betrays more than a little bad faith. We remain unconvinced that designs for nylon carpeting and vinyl wall covering need to reference nature. Aren't these products petroleum-based anyway?