What Matters

November 2022 Issue

Hunky Dory

The Fall 2022 movie season is off to a great start.  TÁR is triumphant, Bros is hysterical, and Official Competition is next gen Pedro Almodóvar.  The documentary Moonage Daydream is a cinematic odyssey that explores David Bowie’s music, spirituality, art, and overall creative journey.  The film is sticking with us.  It is visual maximalism.  It is a film for now.  It took Bowie a lifetime to find grounding and inner peace in a world of chaos and that was during the 1970s-1980s.  There are lessons and inspirations for everyone in Bowie’s story and creative life.  He faced death head on at age 69 by writing the incredibly powerful Blackstar, while dying of liver cancer.  More than anything, Bowie loved life and connection and was also obsessed with outer space!

Fresh Prince of Bel Air Chair

Bowie was a painter and sculptor who amassed an incredible collection of art and furniture much of which was sold at auction by his estate after he passed away.  Many of the furniture pieces were designed by Memphis, a design collective created by a group of Italian architects and designers.  They produced furniture in the 1980s that was both punk and modern just like Bowie’s music.  The name Memphis comes from the Bob Dylan lyric that Ettore Sottsass and Michele de Lucchi were listening to when they founded the company in Sottsass’s apartment in 1981.  You might recognize many of Sottsass’s designs.  The story gets even more meta and more complicated.  Sottsass was friends with Teddy Antolin (a hairdresser in LA) who introduced Bowie to Iman.  They were later married in 1992.  Through Teddy’s friendship with Sottsass, Iman bought Bowie a Memphis Bel Air Chair for his birthday one year.  You can buy one for yourself here if you have $11,000 to spare.  Isn’t it amazing how these thought leaders and creators in music, design, and fashion all knew one another across the globe?  It’s inspiring that connection and collaboration can result in design and musical excellence.

2001: A Space Oddity

What’s odd about Bowie’s 1969 song Space Oddity is that it became associated with the moon landing which ocurred the same year.  Instead, the song is about a fictional Major Tom getting lost in space.  This was during Bowie’s drug using years, but that didn’t seem to bother journalists and broadcasters at the time. What inspired the song?  In another story of art inspiring art, it was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Kubrick hired production designers with backgrounds in NASA and furniture design to create a 2001-like future back in 1968 when the film was being made.  He was also among the first directors to invite major corporations to participate in product placement in the film.  Some of the manufacturers who participated were IBM, Honeywell, Whirlpool, Macy’s, Dupont, Hilton Hotels, Parker Pens, Nikon and Kodak, as well as world famous interior designers like Eero Saarinen.  Even the Jensen and Jacobsen-designed cutlery used in the film from 1957 became iconic.  Take a look at the set design and longevity of these objects. They’re still used in modern design today.

Mad Maximalism

Moonage Daydream isn’t a typical biographical documentary.  It’s a layered visual collage of color, never before seen concert footage, never before heard song mixes, and pure sensory overload.  In the best way possible.  The director, Brett Morgen, took five years to digitize a mass of footage from the Bowie estate and then edited together a version of the Bowie story which reveals and unmasks his various characters and personalities throughout his career.  It is visual maximalism. But what is maximalism in interior design?  It is not an aesthetic for everyone, but it’s having a moment.  It has been around for centuries most recently in the Victorian era but now with a modern twist.

What is Good Interior Design?

The focus of interior design used to be mostly about function.  How do I move through a space?  Are there places for my kids to play, pets to roam, me to work, and guests to feel accommodated?  Is my kitchen large enough for how I like to cook?  Is my car too far from a good place to unload groceries?  Can I watch TV and appreciate the warmth from my fireplace?  Where do I receive and unpack Amazon deliveries? 

Newer interior design principals are focused on function AND on physical and emotional well-being.  Do I sleep well in this space?  Do I feel relaxed and more like myself at home?  Is this space conducive to convening friends and family?  Is there space for me to be alone?  Do I feel balanced and at peace?

Vision is a skill that interior designers bring to the table to incorporate all of these factors. Interior designers also consider factors that clients may not consider on their own. Just like having your accountant do your taxes, interior designers can create your happy place.