THE NAME GAME
Design has a language all of its own, but do we understand it?
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.