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Cognoscenti: The Homogenization of Home Decor

Perhaps nothing is more revealing than the home we keep. What we choose and display can be very telling. But what happens when everyone has exactly the same stuff? (Photo: gematrium/flickr)

Perhaps nothing is more revealing than the home we keep. What we choose and display can be very telling. But what happens when everyone has exactly the same stuff? (Photo: gematrium/flickr)

If you take a quick look through a few home furnishing catalogues — from places like Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn — you’ll notice something. Its’ nice stuff — expensive, too — but there’s something else going on: they’re all trying to sell the idea of old, vintage and unique. But in so doing, the goods have become sort of homogeneous.  Maybe you’ve even seen this stuff at the homes of your friends — the same framed vintage maps on the walls, the Eames rocker, the steamer trunk coffee table.

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  • Amy

    Thank you for this spot.  My home is filled with art created by my mother and Aunt.  It may not be what all my friends have, but I see my family and heritage when I look at them.

  • Robert Judd

    I was thrilled to hear of another person who dislikes our “cookie cutter” sameness mentality. It reminded me of the old Pete Seeger song, “Little Boxes”.  I obviously am prejudiced, I restore furniture for my living and I often use the slogan, “reuse, recycle, refinish” to describe my viewpoint and my life. Hooray for the Katz’s. 

  • MarkDv

    Antique reproductions have been on the market as long as antiques have been around.  At least the big brands are trying to serve up something unique that feels like it has a history–no different than the distressed denim trend.  I suppose now you want to criticize those too? Not everyone has the time or the money to buy the real antiques, and I think you are wrong to call them “expensive”, unless you have a source for cheap antiques.  

    I’ve known designers to mix everything out there; antiques, reproductions, cheap and cheerful things from CB2 or West Elm, things from their grandmother, etc.  If you are some kind of uber design purist, then go ahead–do your thing.  But don’t criticize the marketplace for serving up all kinds of choices. You don’t have to shop there, after all.

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