Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Other creatures
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Monday January 05 2009

I had dinner at the Evans household not long ago, and Tim said many interesting things, about such things as how he was raising his daughter, and much else besides.

He said something particularly interesting about his taste in furniture, with which I found myself concurring.  It wasn’t one of those “I think” things; it was an “I feel and that’s just how it is”.  He wasn’t arguing for it; merely reporting his sentiments, sentiments which, as I say, I seem to share.

Tim said that he absolutely hated his parents’ taste in furniture, and liked two other sorts of furniture.  He loved the furniture that his parents hated, i.e. the style that came a generation before the stuff he hates.  And, he loved the stuff that after his parents, i.e. the furniture loved by his own generation, and presumably hated by the next generation.

I concur.  When wandering around Dingestow, the ancestral home of my mother’s family, I encountered lots of lumpy cupboards that were laminated, and I absolutely hated them.  Laminated furniture is the very definition of hateful, in my head, for some reason.  I really can’t say why exactly.  These things seemed so lumpy and inelegant.  The older stuff, on the other hand, so much less frumpish and uncouth, I thought splendid.  I also hate those big armchairs with great thick arms, that my parents held in such mysterious esteem, and of which there are still examples to be found in my mother’s home.  When I bought a sofa recently, it was essential that it have thinner arms curving a little outwards, rather than those great castle wall arms about half a yard thick.

Basically, you hate your parents’ furniture, and love your grandparents’ furniture, approximately speaking, although the timescales may be a bit longer than that. Maybe I’m actually talking about successive styles.

Is this some kind of instinctive aesthetic reaction programmed into our genes, to make sure that we can’t bear to live our lives out in our parents’ home, but instead strike out on our own, thus strengthening the survival chances of our bit of the gene pool?  Could be.

I’ve just been image googling “armchair”, and I could not find the kind of armchair I hate (which is why there is no picture in this posting), which strongly suggests to me that my aversion to this particular type of design is widely shared by furniture buyers now.  Oh, you get big frumpy-lumpy-armed chairs in abundance, but interestingly, all are straight-lined rather than curvy as per my parents’ big chairs, and clearly more modern than the chairs that furniture buyers all now seem to hate.

Perhaps equally revealingly, the nearest chair to the ones I hate that I could find by this method was this kids armchair, although the covers of this are quite different to the plain light green that my parents went with.  So, the latest batch of tots seem to like the chairs I hate!

Another thought occurs, which is that what we are talking about here is the “best” furniture, the sort of furniture that children are taught to stay away from in case they damage it.  Does this, perhaps, cause said children to dislike such furniture.  It becomes a forbidden and forbidding enemy rather than a friend, which is the furniture that you can sit on, jump on, do what you like with, i.e. the furniture your parents don’t care about.  Could that be it?

Does any of this make sense to anyone else?

This seems somewhat related to my slowly developing theory of why old stuff looks old.  Which is that it has more to do with the new stuff that replaces it than the old stuff itself.  But I hate my grandparents’ furniture.

Posted by Rob Fisher on 05 January 2009

I don’t think I have any taste in furniture. Furniture of my parents’ generation gives me essentially the same level of pleasure or displeasure as furniture of any other generation, ie none. Basically, furniture is a nuisance, and once you have bought some, it becomes a huge nuisance the next time you want to move to the other side of the world.

On the other hand, one does need places to sit, sleep, place one’s computers, put one’s books and the like, so I suppose furniture is a necessary evil.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 06 January 2009

Michael would like the nanotech furniture that crops up in science fiction:  the floor detects that you are sitting and, just in time, extrudes a chair.  This dissolves back into the floor when you stand up.  The same for beds.  And bookshelves that magically appear from the walls.

Posted by Rob Fisher on 06 January 2009

No, the connection is rather to style than to generation. There might be more truth in this hypothesis in the 14th century, even in 18th, with their relatively slow change of general style, be it in dress, furniture, or architecture. But with industrial revolution and ever-intensifying, ever-decreasing radius of the time spiral from 19 century to the current days, there co-exist at the same time, same generation so many styles - one can not say anymore with confidence “90’s lounge chair” as one might “Queen Anne highback chair”, and see in one’s mind a singular, exact image.

What is called now modern classics (and what I conclude, by this post, you’d prefer to sit on) was the furniture invented in the 20’s and 30’s, then entered mass production after the War, and became popular in the 60’s - it was my parents’ ideal furniture (meaning - they would buy it if they had a consumer choice). Simultaneously there existed many variations of the Deco chairs, and the hateful Queen Anne’s interpretations, dragging its feet from 1700’s to contemporary offices and courtrooms.
We don’t have a distinctive face anymore. Our times can not be called “a period”.

Posted by Tatyana on 06 January 2009

I can forgive almost any design or style of furniture, just as long as it is comfortable. It’s no use having a really cool-looking 3-piece suite if you get a sore arse after 5 minutes of watching TV.
Form is unimportant - function is everything, though it has to be said that this approach helpfully rules out lumpy old sofas and armchairs and equally helpfully, anything ugly and ultra-modern.

I must confess that I am now craving Rob’s nanotech furniture though. If only MFI had thought of that…

Posted by 6000 on 06 January 2009

Ahem. I seem to have got edited out of that dinner!

I guess it’s good to know what it’s like to be Beria, without having to be shot first. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_the_Soviet_Union

I only mention this because I raised this topic, based on talking to several people who have had an interest in antiques or interior design: I theorised that what the next generation will like will often be exactly one generation out of step from parents.

The point I meant to make was that this bias was among people who know about furniture, who might have a more objective view.

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 13 January 2009

Antoine, I’m not sure I got your Beria reference (after all, he did get to be Beria until he got shot).

I’m not aware about the bias you described, and I’m a professional interior designer. Besides, as I said above, our generation, as well as generation before us, is not associated with a single style, in furniture or design. Therefore, when you say “what next generation will like is out of step with their parents” it is unclear what exactly constitute the style the generation likes.
The last time the generation had a distinctive style characterizing a period, in furniture/design terms, was Art Nouveau .

Posted by Tatyana on 13 January 2009
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.