The old and new
MIX PAST AND PRESENT FOR A RICH LOOK WITH DEPTH AND CHARACTER
Everything Old Is New Again” is a Peter Allen song, I know. But it’s also one of those clichés that bounces around the design industry, and it’s never been quite so true as it is now. You may have heard Darren Palmer, my fellow judge on The Block, talk about “New Traditional” in the current series. He was referring to the fusion of Art Deco and modern in the six Port Melbourne apartments, but there are plenty of other eras that are being plundered for inspiration.
In the latest issue of Vogue Living, there’s a trend page on which every piece of furniture is new, but you could be forgiven for thinking we’d raided the local antiques market. There’s a carpet by Dutch brand Moooi resembling a Dutch old master; inlaid wooden cabinets demonstrating that the delicate art of marquetry has been spared extinction; and salon chairs that owe a debt to their 18th-century forebears. My inbox is full of ornate mirrors and chandelier offerings, and fabric retailers are reporting increased demand for toiles, brocades, silks and damasks.
But so far, so traditional. Where does the “new” come in? Well, that’s all in the mix. Nothing feels quite so fresh – and exciting, in my opinion – as the blend of old and new. These new “old” pieces add an exciting extra dimension. In Australia, the pared-back Scandinavian mid-century look has held sway for a long time, but it was inevitable the pendulum would eventually swing back, that we might crave some ornamentation. Those canny folk at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra knew which way the design winds were blowing. The
exhibition opens in early December (nga. gov.au) and will tap right into the New Traditionalist mood. As NGA director Gerard Vaughan puts it: “We want people to experience the beauty and the glamour. A bit of bling never hurts.”
But just as we didn’t want to see wall-to-wall Art Deco in those Block apartments, so too none of us really want our homes to look like Marie Antoinette’s boudoir. To be ahead of the curve, try mixing antique and modern. Think of it as the home-decorating equivalent of adding a Tom Ford tie to a business suit, or a pair of Louboutin heels to a little black dress. It gives a whole new meaning to
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