De­sign has a lan­guage all of its own, but do we un­der­stand it?

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - By Neale Whi­taker Neale Whi­taker is co-host of Foxtel’s Love It Or List It Aus­tralia on Life­style, and a judge on Nine Net­work’s The Block.

When I was a mag­a­zine ed­i­tor, I had a vendetta against the word “eclec­tic”. Not only was it overused, but it al­ways seemed so lazy, a one-size-fits-all de­scrip­tor for any style that flouted the rule book.

Now that word is “po­lar­is­ing”, thrown at any­thing that might jus­ti­fi­ably pro­voke de­bate, opin­ion or emo­tion. Of course de­sign is po­lar­is­ing. How bor­ing would it be if there was some kind of taste stan­dard whereby we all liked ev­ery­thing equally?

My new house came with a horse – and if that’s not po­lar­is­ing, I don’t know what is. I still bought it. And I’m guilty of overus­ing the word my­self. If The Block judges scored a dol­lar ev­ery time we said “po­lar­is­ing”, we’d never have to work again.

It got me think­ing about other words we throw around on TV that might grate on view­ers, and some that prob­a­bly need fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion. De­sign has a lan­guage of its own, and when you work in its wake you don’t al­ways stop to think about whether you’re mak­ing your­self un­der­stood. Here’s a brief glos­sary of some terms you’re likely to hear a lot in the com­ing months…

Tade­lakt might sound de­li­cious but, no, it doesn’t come with cous­cous. It’s a beau­ti­ful soap-pol­ished, wa­ter-re­pel­lent plas­ter sur­face pop­u­lar in Moroc­can ar­chi­tec­ture. Tra­di­tion­ally red in colour, it’s cur­rently en­joy­ing its time in the sun, es­pe­cially in bath­rooms.

Un­less you’ve been liv­ing un­der the prover­bial rock, you’ll know that Por­tu­gal is one of the hottest des­ti­na­tions on the planet, and in in­te­rior decor, Azule­jos are the new tile of choice. Most com­monly found in com­bi­na­tions of blue and white – but not al­ways – these in­tri­cate ce­ramic tiles are of­ten seen on the ex­te­ri­ors of Por­tuguese build­ings and have long been famed for their cool­ing, as well as dec­o­ra­tive, prop­er­ties.

They’re now a fash­ion-for­ward choice in kitchens, bath­rooms and laun­dries, although I sug­gest “Por­tuguese tiles” is eas­ier to say than


“Azule­jos”. (But if you’re brave, go for the lat­ter and re­mem­ber that ‘j’ in Por­tuguese sounds a bit like ‘zh’.) Kil­ims are wo­ven ta­pes­try rugs orig­i­nat­ing from Turkey or Iran and – along with tra­di­tional Per­sian car­pets – they’re prov­ing pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tives to the now-ubiq­ui­tous Moroc­can rugs. Wabi-sabi is, of course, the Ja­panese con­cept of find­ing beauty in im­per­fec­tion, and (Den­mark’s) hygge needs no fur­ther dis­cus­sion. But if you re­ally want to im­press, try pa­jąki. These brightly coloured Pol­ish pa­per chan­de­liers look like year-round Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions. Eclec­tic and, yes, just a lit­tle po­lar­is­ing.

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