26 March 2012

Interior Design TV Travesty

I’m reposting an opinion piece on my blog that I wrote for e-zine Creative Boom. It’s about the travesty that was Get Your House In Order, a new TV programme on the UK’s Channel 4. I wrote the opinion piece because, as an interior designer, I feel strongly about good interior design and buying genuine authorised versions of designs. I don’t appreciate TV programmes that, in my opinion, are detrimental to the field of interior design or to design per se.

Why TV’s ‘Get Your House In Order’ is bad for interior design

It was with curiosity and a certain level of trepidation that I decided to watch Channel 4’s new programme, Get Your House In Order (22 March 2012). By the end – I forced myself to watch that far – my initial trepidation had turned to sheer disgust.

OK, the premise is one where out of control consumers are helped by two so-called experts to transform their lives. It’s like a hoarding documentary and interior design makeover show rolled into one. An antiques dealer works with the obsessive consumer(s) to sell their clutter and an interior designer uses the proceeds to fund a redecoration of their chaotic home. In all it has the making of what can only be described as perfect cheap and mindless TV.

So why my sheer disgust? Get Your House In Order is yet another example of how a TV programme can be detrimental to both design and interior design. I felt the show’s presenters, particularly interior designer Abigail Ahern, were cold, overly assertive and somewhat insincere. There was no evident connection with the consumer (or client) on an emotional level; no real striving to understand her need for compulsive buying and clutter, and little empathy was conveyed. The presenters had two big voices, two dominant personalities and often it was a case of who could shout loudest.

To me, interior design is like a philosophy of life – a journey of exploration, discovery, fulfilment and living. People are central to this journey. You take the person, you take the space, and you help them to imagine and realise a way of living and being that is true for them. With this in mind, I really feel that Get Your House In Order was a charade; another obtuse, real-life melodrama.

Of course it’s fine for people to decorate their own home in whatever way they wish. My issue is whenever they use an inadequate TV programme as a guide or reference to achieving their interior space. Interior design is so much more than paint, rugs, accessories and a few pictures on a wall. It’s professional, technical, involved and complex. It works with people’s emotions and feelings, wants and desires.

To add insult to injury, the end result of the makeover on Get Your House In Order was, in my opinion, horrific. A small room made to feel smaller by painting it blue; a DIY exhibit of painted shoes on top of a mantlepiece; a clash of garish colours in the living space. And to top it all, a £150 (about €180 or $238) reproduction of the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair in throbbing red. I’ve written previously on Creative Boom about buying genuine authorised versions of a particular design vs. buying a reproduction (see If it’s not genuine, it’s a fake!). Suffice to say, for Abigail Ahern to blatantly peddle the merits of buying a cheap reproduction piece of iconic furniture on TV, is both irresponsible and detrimental to the essence of modern design classics.

I want to say that the interior design world, and design generally, is extraordinary, inspiring, passionate and imposing. Aesthetic means everything, appearance is utmost, style is a must and desire is absolute. Good interior design is on a different level, a far superior level, to that being advocated by Channel 4 in this absurd TV travesty.

What are your thoughts on this?

As a thank you for reading and for a little aesthetic respite, I’ve posted some images of beautiful interior spaces. Enjoy!

Image at top: Danish design via Republic of Fritz Hansen.

House in Sunami via Kazunori Fujimoto Architect & Associates.

Chicago Loft via HomeDSGN.

New room in old concrete shell via Suppose Office Design.

Minimal space via Minimal Architecture.

Renovated house in Treia, Italy, by Wespi de Meuron Architects, via Decoist.

Creative Recreation showroom © Evan Clabots.

Tenbosch House by Patrice Lemeret. Photo © Serge Anton via Yatzer.

Hope living room via Emmas Designblogg (sic).

The Walker Residence via Mid-Centuria.

Eggs (the real deal). © Tim Crocker Photography, via Plastolux™.

Find more of Walnut Grey’s discerning design picks on Pinterest.