Parody of luxury. Game in luxury.
Splurge. Cute. Fabulous. Anti-style.
Kitsch is especially distinctive phenomenon. It is very disputable and contradictory. It is cute, and it reveals a real bad taste; it is strange and unique at the same time. So, quite often existence of kitsch is denied or has wrong interpretations. Let’s start with the fact that it’s not correct to define kitsch as a style or design direction. It is about a very interesting phenomenon which could be “understood” or “not understood” – and no more. That is to say, there is kitsch, and there is all the rest. It is about a certain “character” of the interior, about its inner “contents”. It is not so the external “picture” as some “inner labyrinth” with a very special meaning. Instead of the term “kitsch style” it’s better to say “in kitsch style”. Some very special contents of kitsch can be only shown, represented visually – but this cannot be created according to some limited formulas.
In kitsch style – it is about something which could be defined as “too much”: too much poorly or too much richly, too much garishly. As it is known, there is no an exact date of “kitsch” origin, but the point of this phenomenon was caused by ordinary people’s mode of life. So, one of the kitsch origin conceptions is based on the most natural source – it is about poverty. It is about poverty which “challenges”, becoming almost the style of stars. Ability to feel the sense of beauty, love to something beautiful – are typical for all people. So, ordinary people also wanted their homes were “beautiful”. As a result, there was the imitation of luxury or fashionable houses to make their modest homes least a little similar to the “glossy” interiors. But for luck of money to buy expensive furniture or rare materials they couldn’t to realize such ideas. So, why trash cannot be fashionable or luxury?
In kitsch style – conceptually
As kitsch is a quite vague phenomenon, let’s pay attention to certain conceptual theses often used in discussions about it.
- Kitsch-interior – isn’t beautiful? Maybe, some heap of stuff doesn’t look so nice, but only skilled designer’s eye can best realize the idea “in kitsch style”. Only in this case kitsch-interior becomes nice and very stylish. Therefore, kitsch – is a very shaky side between beauty and absurd in relation to understanding of beauty per se.
- In kitsch style – it is not about glamour or chic. It is about the interior which shouldn’t be admired, but about which one can boast, ignoring all the canons or even tradition. Kitsch provokes “to show everything”. Actually, kitsch is a splurge; it is to show everything for effect.
- Kitsch is not a style or design direction. Kitsch reveals some “picture” of the lifestyle; it is a soul of the interior (cheap and tasteless but very stylish at the same time). It is anti-style.
- Kitsch is a mockery above pedants, revealed in the form of a mess.
- It is a game: “game in design”, “game in beauty”, “game in luxury”.
- But, is kitsch a form of luxury? No one thing of the kitsch-interior has to be original. Non-original things – to everyone could see. Stuff (or even trash like some casual art) – are not condemned because this is “how it should be”, and this should be for effect. Luxury in kitsch style can be non-original. And each non-luxury is true. Bad taste becomes the best manifestation of taste per se, and cheap is combined perfectly with the diamond in a plastic pot. Kitsch is a parody of luxury.
In kitsch style – talking seriously
As we can see, kitsch-interior has no common opinion or one simple conception, because it is about an authentic manifestation of contradiction or total indifference to someone’s opinion. But, if kitsch is a parody – it is about a filigree and very talented parody. To create the space “in kitsch style” – is a jewel work for the most skilled designers. Each detail (including finishing), furniture, accessories and even shoes left on the floor – should be well thought out. All things in such interior are subordinated to one idea which sense is based on a very special – fragmentary pace. And each single object of the kitsch-interior – reveals this concept separately. The whole composition seems to be spontaneous, but the most casual things are well thought out. Kitsch neutralizes any banality due to stuff.
What does kitsch consist of?
Disharmony is one of the basic elements of kitsch. It is about some fragmentation of everything: of colours, of materials, lighting, incompatible style attributes. If this heap of various objects becomes well coordinated combination – it is about Fusion style. But any regularity breaks kitsch. The concept of kitsch-interior combines perfectly Country style finishings with Classic motifs, the elements of Japanese art with the elitist monumentality of Empire style, gilt columns made of the foam plastic with graffiti or other kinds of street art, the antiquarian candelabrums with the rubbed carpet full of holes. But there is a unique soul of kitsch hidden behind all this “empty things”, because such definitions like “domestic” and “hominess” – transform kitsch into one stylistic whole. It is about something artistically intimate. So, we can see a lot of some cute objects which meaning and emotional sense are clear only for the inhabitant of kitsch. It is about various bows, pug-dogs and ruсhes, garish flowers, small boxes and little post cards, cheap figurines and other souvenirs or “stupid” accessories.
Excess – is one more important feature of kitsch. It is about “too much” of everything. As though, each detail, color or even light – catch eye, and all things are for effect. Colours “in kitsch style” differ by unique combinations: lemon and violet, neon green and crimson, and other acid colours which presence in the interior is difficult to imagine. Such color set is used to make alive this “sad” place.
Kitsch-interior denies one lighting conception. We can see local classic chandeliers and sconces left all over the place and pseudo-classic “antique” crystal chandeliers, or even real antiquarian lamps mixed with the cheapest accessories. There is only one thing is not typical for kitsch – it is about modern lamps and lighting systems: kitsch parodies luxury, but kitsch doesn’t parody geometry. Mannered candelabrums become the best complement.
Curtains become one more important feature of the interior “in kitsch style”. Heavy, massive velvet or “old” silk curtains carelessly cover not only the window but also half of the wall. Instead of their pseudo high price these curtains can be similar to the rugs. Coloring of the curtains is also “enchanting”: it is about the same violet or crimson colours, rubbed shades of green, blue or even “empire” bordo.
Too much decorated wallpapers will be combined perfectly with such curtains. This even could be the imitation of noble English cabinets’ stylistics. We also can see old carpets or elements of the street art (graffiti, pop art canvas, or even stupid vulgar posters). To complete this “flea market” with some nobility and architectural volumes we can use the columns. If there is a few expensive objects in the kitsch-interior (for example, it is about gilt accessories, crystal, or rare antiqued objects) – these columns could be made of the foam plastic but keeping classic bas-reliefs. The celling is lower – the columns are more monumental. Stucco molding, “antique statues”, cute garden figurines – all these objects can replace your monumental column. These elements – put out all really expensive objects, such elements – turn off any originality. So, quite often objects made with keeping some original stylistics – will be “distorted”: for example, carved framing of the painting – but instead some classic landscape we will see a garish acid spot or cute doggie! Gild toilet bowl will be combined perfectly with the plastic kitchen utensils. “In kitsch style” – means a special play of contrasts, constantly changing objects, it is about an excess – but some primitive thing is still being a dominant. Primitive things put out luxury.
Kitsch-interior is marked with some theatricality. If a gesture of glamour can be associated with a performance, kitsch is still visual, for effect and more static at the same time. Each inapt object is indestructibly nailed in this interior, and kitsch will be broken without the smallest bow or cute doggie-portrait. Kitsch doesn’t personify the rules, and kitsch doesn’t break the rules. Rules? Rules are incompatible with kitsch. Kitsch – is in itself, and it’s only for itself. It’s a jewelry parody which provokes the tender emotions but not a shame or criticism.
Today we can talk about certain kitsch types. For example, it is about “pseudo-luxury kitsch”. Such a phenomenon becomes some “alliance” of money presence and lack of taste. In this kitsch-interior we can see gilt bas-reliefs, red velvet textures and “antique columns” with neon backlighting. Such kitsch-interior personifies a private “universe” of bed taste. “Nundinal kitsch” (or fair kitsch) is more friendly phenomenon. It is about souvenirs, knick-knacks, cat shaped moneyboxes, cheap figurines, toys and other trash placed at visible place to be very touched by naïve enchantment. “Neo-kitsch” is presented by the most strange souvenirs which “function” becomes inimitably stupid. For example, can you imagine the cufflinks-thermometers?
So called “design kitsch” is a jewelry parody created by only very skilled specialists. It’s about filigree using of various style canons and methods. Design kitsch creates a unique composition where only irony and a true individuality can be real. It is about an intelligent interior marked with a deep context. Such kitsch-interior has an intellect. Affected bed taste becomes a garish and charismatic image meaning a majestic negation of common opinion or limited canons. Only skilled designer can keep control of the kitsch “crazy character”, creating a unique interior.
60’s room in orange. Seventeen Magazine Oct 1967
the first photo – ‘Madame Blush’ canvas by Mineheart (exceptional decoration for design of the interior “in kitsch style”)