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just too much!

A wise person once told me that editing is the most important exercise of design.

Sometimes, not editing can result in a finished work that “reads” like a woman who has on too much make-up or a man who has on too much jewelry – in both cases, neither the women nor the man fully understand their natural beauty.  I guess they feel the extra’s somehow make them enough.

I believe the same is true for architecture and interior design.

Recently my husband and I spent a weekend at a boutique hotel in a city outside of Albany, GA for our baby moon (short vacation before the arrival of our 2nd baby).  In its attempts to be hip, cool and fresh, every square foot in the lobby of this hotel was “designed” – which, to me, resulted in a visually noisy and jarring atmosphere.  A catalogue of materials – carpet, stone, concrete, metal, glass, silk, boucle, plywood, bamboo, velvet, resided in this lobby hotel (see below). The issue here is not to focus on the name or location of this highly styled hotel, but rather the question the hotel caused me to ask myself – when is design in general just too much?

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an image of the hotel lobby… (same colors and vibe as “Mimi” above, no?)

In order to begin to answer this question, it would be reasonable to establish the rules for what is considered “enough” – and even this direction of thought and questioning is slippery, as design is subjective.  So in this case, I can only offer up my opinion and ask for yours.  This isn’t to hint that I only tolerate a quiet architecture and design that is restrained – there is something quite intriguing about Sir. John Soane’s three-dimensional collage in his Soane Museum – this in itself is interesting because the “visual noise”, if you will, comes from a collection of sameness (objects of the same color, same theme).  I can also appreciate experimentation, like SHoP Architects 290 Mulberry Condominiums (below) for example, where they reinterpret the idea of brick in the careful articulation of the facade.

SHoP ARCHITECTS 290 Mulberry . New York

SHOP ARCHITECTS -1. 290 Mulberry . New York (3)

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I guess I have an issue when the experiment tends to look like a 2nd year design project, lacking a level of refinement and maturity.  I will begin with just a few projects that, in my opinion, are a little overdressed or too much in one form or another…

The Norton House (1984) by Frank Gehry – a continued experiment in materiality

I do like Frank Gehry – I think the scale and composition of materials is skillfully done.  It’s just the final outcome that is…is too much.  Perhaps this is the edited version…

Royal Ontario Museum by ROM: B+H with Studio Daniel Libeskind (2009)

Royal Ontario Museum by ROM: B+H with Studio Daniel Libeskind (2009)

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The Bullring Shopping Center by Benoy Ltd (2001) – um…Yikes…

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I.M. Pei (1995)

A French Modern House by Peripheriques Architects (take note of the contextual hint in the background)

A French Modern House by Peripheriques Architects (take note of the contextual hint in the background)

What do you think?  Let me know your thoughts…

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