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Character is the new dominant trend in design

April 7, 2006

Alice Rawsthorn, recently wrote a piece for the FT on furniture maker, Vitra and the changes in its design philosophy. Rawsthorn suggests that design is now moving to a different stage; moving away from the sleek, to things that are more organic, individual, fluid and full of character.

“And character is what we want from design right now. In our spoilt, saturated consumer culture, we have become bored by the sleek, over-styled interiors we see in television makeover programmes and car commercials.

And in a deflationary era, when most of us are still guilty of buying too many things we neither need nor really want and of throwing them out rather than bothering to repair them we long for objects that are distinctive enough to mean something.

At the same time we have become accustomed to personalising the way we consume things in other areas of daily life. Take information. Once, we absorbed information in print by reading a newspaper article or book from the beginning to the end. Now we are just as likely to find it on screen by plotting our own path around the internet.

We dart from website to website, taking unexpected detours along the way. It is the same when we listen to music. Rather than play an album from start to finish, we set out iPods to shuffle, and enjoy the random passage from track to track.

We want the objects that fill our lives to feel equally personal. If you are rich enough, you can achieve that by buying one-off or limited-edition furniture at auction or from a dealer such as Galerie Kreo in Paris or the British design manufacturer Established & Sons.

Luckily for those of us with smaller budgets, technology can now imbue mass-manufactured objects with the individuality we crave. After decades of being used to making multiple versions of the same product at the same quality, technology has become so advanced that it can personalise industrially produced objects.”

This is something of a preview of what we are likely to see played out at the Milan Furniture Fair, which opens this week, but also a nice summary of a prevailing trend that’s going to change the aesthetic of all kinds of environments and objects, with an iimpact that goes way beyond furniture.

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