“Each to their own (bad taste)!”

Designer Interieur Melanie Trinkwell



My late grandmother, Simone, liked to close any kind of aesthetic debate with the wise saying: “each to their own (bad taste)!” In other spheres and other times, Nietzche maintained that “bad taste has its rights no less than good taste” and Galliano ironically retorted: “I prefer bad taste to a total absence of taste!” I propose we debate this vast subject in the field of decoration and furnishings…

What is bad taste?

Bad taste is cultural; every country cultivates its own idea of good and bad taste. How many times have we heard the French engaging in friendly mockery of their English neighbours’ lack of restraint in this sense? But within the same community, bad taste can become a formidable political weapon; to denounce it is to dictate its law. In his book, Distinction, the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu demonstrates how the ruling class seeks to legitimize and maintain its position through a strategy defining what constitutes good taste and what does not, imposing this on the rest of society: “Of all the conversion techniques designed to create and accumulate symbolic capital, the purchase of works of art, objectified evidence of ‘personal taste’, is the one which is closest to […] the internalization of distinctive signs and symbols of power in the form of natural distinction, personal authority or culture”. The truth is, of course, that there’s no such thing as absolute and eternal ugliness or beauty. So-called lack of taste is simply a slip-up… when the bottom rises to the surface!

Toa Heftiba « Un Pari Osé Mais Une Harmonie Dans Les Couleurs »

Photo credit : Toa Heftiba “a daring bet, but harmony through colour”

Freeing ourselves from rules (and our neighbours!)

Let’s return to the issue of our interiors. Many of us struggle to transform our “homes” into unique, authentic places. It’s so easy to be influenced by decoration rules, or compare ourselves with our neighbours, forgetting to focus on our true values and desires. If you feel unexplained anxiety at the idea of making a faux pas, ask yourself what you are afraid of? Is it your family’s opinion? That of your friends? Or your own verdict? The crux of the matter is not fear of an object, material or colour, but fear of coming up against our own limits, or liberating ourselves from the ones imposed by people around us. Becoming aware of this is an immediate catalyst for change. I can feel that you are already beginning to set yourself free… And, please, at the same time, liberate yourself from aesthetic theories and fashion trends. The only thing that really matters is your own story. Draw your inspiration from things that have real meaning for you and the people who share your home. This is the secret to feeling at home and creating your very own interior.

We can, indeed, make the distinction between “good bad taste” and “bad taste”…

The need to express your (good) bad taste

Inhabited and highly personalized settings bear the imprint of a certain relationship to knowledge: the knowledge of the Self. What really runs through our veins. Being daring enough to express your tastes, whatever they may be, means asserting yourself and setting yourself free. We can, indeed, make the distinction between “good bad taste” and “bad taste”…

At the risk of offending the foodies among us, it’s a bit like good and bad cholesterol. There’s nothing livelier and more fun than a well-measured dose of bad taste. It can be controlled; you shouldn’t overdo it. Parsimony is the watchword. An unusual lamp, mismatched patterns, furniture from different eras… In short, features out of context, transcending the décor. Such touches can really bring out an interior in all its glory. Kitsch can be good: strong colours to liven things up and accumulations to catch the eye. Without these transgressions, décor can quickly become dull, even boring. But how do you make the right choices in practice?

Tenderness, my Fanny!

The title of this outdated 1979 film by Patrick Schulmann provides the final answer. “Good bad taste” does not belong to any social class or status claim. It responds, rather, to… tenderness! Décor “accidents” can be things of beauty, allowing us to take ownership of interiors that are too sleek, giving them a patina, a look, an emotion. Your children’s drawings in the corridor, an armchair that looks tired but is oh-so-comfortable, a modest vase you inherited from your “Simone”… all elements to make your own and love for what they are! I’ll leave the last word to the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa: “Things have no meaning: they have an existence”.

Toa Heftiba « Un Jeu De Matières »

Photo credit : Toa Heftiba “a play on materials”

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