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Has the rise of Instagram killed originality and the interior designer?

Has the rise of Instagram killed originality and the interior designer?

31 August 2015 Amber Creswell Bell

In the world of interiors we know all too well that style and trends are ephemeral. What is a hot ticket item today becomes yesterday's pineapple, chevron or gold gilded skull ornament. This is just the way it goes. But, are we bearing witness to this style-to-dead-file cycle moving faster than ever?

Social media and smart devices are having a growing effect on the way we live, the way we dress, the way we eat – and most certainly on the way we decorate our homes. Once upon a time, interior design was the pastime of the wealthy and the elite – a service not available to the everyday punter. But now, the masses can receive interior design know-how for free by signing up to Pinterest, following their favourite designers and stylists on Instagram or subscribing to one of the many blogs devoted to the subject.

We can now follow everyday nobodies as they renovate their homes and share the journey with their swelling legion of followers on the 'gram, crowdsourcing community opinion on fixtures and fittings and basking in the unsolicited praise of their admirers. Overnight, office-workers-by-day have become social-media-celebrities-by-night just by virtue of some craftily cropped iPhone snaps and some pretty decorating vignettes.

All said, is this hyper-rapid rapid digital ebb and flow of ideas and inspiration killing originality?


Jane Frosh, of Sydney-based styling house, Cool Edies thinks it's a positive thing. "I actually quite like it.  Social media ups the ante with creative folk.  It forces you to re-evaluate, to work harder, and to push concepts further.  If a client wants something that they see on Instagram or on a blog, then it pretty much clarifies their position when it comes to creative. I also like it when you see your concept being bandied about on the internet.  It gives you some sort of perspective as to where you sit in the creative field!"

Much lauded interior design practice, Luchetti Krelle, are known for their high profile restaurant and bar projects and sense of fun. Co-principal Stuart Krelle muses on this subject, reminding him of his final year dissertation on 'originality' and if it truly exists. "We all draw from our environment and contemporaries. Our industry is so quickly connected to other designer's work and trends at the reach of our thumbs, it can start to standardise design into trends resulting in much of what we see looking the same. The other side to this - which is great - is when something is really original, it jumps right off the page at you!"

Interior designer Brett Mickan's signature is the infusion of eclectic vintage finds into his schemes, and says the dominance of social media on the interior design world has definitely taken him by surprise.  "I have found it has given my clients a greater product knowledge as well as an ever increasing interest in all things design.  While social media has been an asset, as a tool for brand recognition, it has created a bit of a clone look.  Post an all white interior and you are guaranteed many likes. The copy-cat effect is rampant and many a same interior is produced".

Mickan thinks this is why it is important to continue to expand our interior influences from many sources, not just social media. "Travel, music videos and even that dinosaur - print media - to keep our visual library wide.  I use individuality as an asset.  Clients come to me when they don't want a look reproduced", he says. 

Interior and landscape industry stalwart Jane Stark believes this trend highlights more than ever the value of design professionals who can create a truly unique look. "Designers are skilled at curating both contemporary and antique pieces and combining these with an edited take on the client's existing treasured personal pieces, combining elements of surprising scale, proportion, texture and colour which gives an interior that sought-after bespoke and fresh feel," she says.

One might say that the positive spin off of all this trend sharing is that the modern zeitgeist has become more design savvy. Dominique Brammah, associate with high-end interior designer practice Arent&Pyke, thinks the downside is the tedium. "Honestly, interior and styling trends you see unfolding across social platforms are worthy of a giant yawn. It is a way for anyone with an iPhone to give it a red hot go with an old Diptyque candle jar, a pile of black and white books, a calligraphy print of something about "the sea" and a grey marle throw. Boring," says Dominique. And she is probably not alone. But she does concede that that she likes it in moderation. "It gives me such a creative buzz to follow my contemporaries as well as artists, fashion designers, photographers, writers, cooks, and the Margaret Zhangs of the world".

And before you rush off to pack all of your chevron pineapples into the Salvos bin, the things to remember is balance. Be wary of adopting trends to the extreme, and there is always a place for things you love "just because".



17 August 2015