January 13, 2010

"The nihilist’s desire for control, order and blankness..."

"... and his dislike of beauty and the past, mean there’s nowhere calming or beautiful for the eye to rest; no magazine or book by the sofa; no way of putting your feet up on that sofa without compromising its snowy virginity. The house is on permanent standby for the estate agent’s surprise visit. It is forever Year Zero. Old, pretty things have given way to new, ugly nothings."

That's the last paragraph of an article on the death of "shabby chic," the first page of which is here. I mostly disagree with it, by the way. I think a clean, uncluttered space is calming and beautiful. I'm saying this on the last morning of our 10-day stay at a very nicely modern hotel in Austin, Texas.

25 comments:

Joan said...

A clean, uncluttered space is calming and beautiful. A sterile, heartless place is neither, and that's the distinction the author is making. It's possible to have a modern design aesthetic and still have your house look as if people live there. Mine does.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

Ahhh... so that's the hotel, is it? You've done some very good advertising for them. I'm gonna stay there when I come to Austin.

Happy Belated Birthday BTW! I hope that I can be as energetic and mindful as you are when I'm 59.

Meade said...

"I hope that I can be as energetic and mindful as you are when I'm 59."

JRH: I, too, hope she can be just as energetic and mindful when you turn 59!

t-man said...

But Althouse,

Your photos show an aesthetic the opposite of clean uncluttered modernity. You are obviously visually in tune with messy, organic shapes, ornate buildings, or plainly shaped buildings with unusual surface decoration.

Modern design is calming for a while, but then quickly becomes unintereting and deadening.

rhhardin said...

I just let stuff pile up.

Balfegor said...

Humbug. I dress like my grandfather, in my grandfather's own clothes. My rugs are my father's. My calligraphy scrolls are my grandmother's. Why get it new, when you can just pass it on? Not everything can be an heirloom, obviously, but one ought to get things that will last. It's ironic that the so very modern "new class" would be the class to abandon basic thrift -- you'd think that they, of all people, with their demented enviro-mania, would be determined to get as much use as they can out of what they have before getting something shiny and new.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

@Meade- That's 24 years from now. But I have a feeling that, as the years go by, Althouse will continue to enlighten the world even more with her charm and intelligence and wit.

edutcher said...

The Blonde is like rh; it (name it) just collects in piles until I scream something on the order of, "That's it!!!", and stuff gets thrown out - her idea, of course, is just move the piles.

Needless to say, I agree with Ann, although there's more than enough of The Blonde in me (don't say it) that my desk looks very little like Ann's most of the time.

Meade said...

"I hope that I can be as energetic and mindful as you are when I'm 59."

JRH: I, too, hope she can be just as energetic and mindful when you turn 59!


And you as well, sir.

Ann Althouse said...

"Your photos show an aesthetic the opposite of clean uncluttered modernity. You are obviously visually in tune with messy, organic shapes, ornate buildings, or plainly shaped buildings with unusual surface decoration."

Photography is a way to impose order on the visual chaos that assaults me. I don't necessarily like the larger scene in which I find myself when I frame a photograph. I do enjoy traipsing about in a cluttered environment, looking for details to photograph. At home and in a hotel, I like order and clean lines and uncluttered views. Some kinds of fanciness can be good too, but not just a mess. Some messes are charming though, like what grows on a desk or table. Still, I'd rather have it cleaned up.

Night2night said...

I'd like to think there is some optimal space between compulsive hoarder and minimalist room decor (which not only looks unused by human inhabitants, but also looks extremely uncomfortable). Still, it's all a matter of personal taste and, perhaps, what we desire to project about ourselves. For myself I prefer an organized desk with occasional sojourns in my well-padded couch with its thick pillows and jean-like upholstery.

The Crack Emcee said...

I prefer a funky clutter, filled with books and music, that reveal a mind at work. To me, the look of that hotel is good for one thing, artisticly, and that's depositing spagetti (sp?) all over the walls. This isn't a comment on your taste, Ann, but a statement on my own (and saying that is part of my "turning over a new leaf" on your blog) but, if you like that kind of thing, I've got a few dentist's offices that you're gonna love,...

bearing said...

Since I live with and love three children (four any day now!) there is a certain amount of clutter that comes with the territory. Because of that, I shoot for as minimalist a "background" as possible. Straight lines, few frames on the wall, modern furniture, simple prints. I haven't entirely succeeded in my quest to avoid clutter in the design of my home's interior (as opposed to in the life lived therein) but I think the result is fairly balanced. I do not need to strew objets and books casually about in my environment, because I have people who do that for me.

I also strive to create a few islands in my home that are very simple and uncluttered, especially the bedrooms.

And I must say, I *longed* to have a vacation in the hotel you posted pictures in. With my day-to-day life as noisy as it is, I think I would thoroughly enjoy a few days in the "sterile" modern environment. It's all about balance.

Joe said...

I preferred the Renaissance hotel in Austin. (It used to be called the Stouffer, I think.)

traditionalguy said...

Are dishes put into the sink clutter like dishes on the counter are? I like dishes put into the dishwasher and not just into the sink until later on. Different strokes for different folks.

vbspurs said...

Rh wrote:

I just let stuff pile up.

HOARDER! You'll end up on Oprah one day.

vbspurs said...

the Stouffer

Like the mac-n-cheese?

veni vidi vici said...

What a cool hotel, and from what you've shown us here lately, a really neat town. Thanks for sharing.



wv: "mitesses" -- bedbug-infested mattresses.

Oligonicella said...

I'm with Emcee. My easel is up and stays there. My papers on current topics litter about. My bed is never made and I frequently wipe my brushes on the shirt I wear. That is my aesthetic. To each their own.

My best friend lives in a white environ where you have to take off your shoes to enter. I'm comfortable when I'm there, but more comfortable at home.

vbspurs said...

I'm saying this on the last morning of our 10-day stay at a very nicely modern hotel in Austin, Texas.

My money is on Ann having been offered to be Dean of the School of Law of the Longhorns.

We'll see!

Cheers,
Victoria

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm like RH, the Blonde, Emcee, and Oli. But with small children around, I've become much less so. Beginning to lean on the totally uncluttered side now. Leave it out, and the children will have it.

Henry said...

@bearing -- Congratulations! My wife and I have arrived at the same compensatory aesthetic as you. Especially since we went from two kids to three, we've been reducing the stuff. This winter we repainted the living room. In the process we moved out the largest piece of furniture (an inherited drop-leaf table), rolled up and stored the oriental rug (our grandest early-marriage purchase), and rehung just a few pieces on the wall. It's a huge relief.

The hot wheels cars have a bigger hardwood skidpad, so the kids are happy too.

Joe said...

The Stouffer

Same people as the frozen foods.

http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=991

edutcher said...

traditionalguy said...

Are dishes put into the sink clutter like dishes on the counter are?

Only if you find the mice prefer dining there.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm like RH, the Blonde, Emcee, and Oli. But with small children around, I've become much less so. Beginning to lean on the totally uncluttered side now. Leave it out, and the children will have it.

This is because you are outnumbered. If you ever saw, "the Naked Jungle", it's a little like Chuck fighting off all those ants. If you don't blow up the dam occasionally, you'll lose the whole plantation.

blake said...

"Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."

I understand nihilism is exhausting.

Joan said...

Freeman, wait till the kids are older and create their own clutterverse. Then you have to decide whether it's worth nagging them about it -- I've decided it's best to give them their own areas and basically keep their clutter contained to their own spaces. Saves on both nagging and my cleaning time, and I'm not tripping over their stuff nearly as often.