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Alexandra Lange

My Idea of Hell


There is no upside in criticizing Kelly Wearstler, since her press machine just rolls on, as she changes outfits hourly and houses annually. But after reading profiles of her in both the New Yorker and in Vogue (the New Yorker irritated me, any question about her awesomeness from unnamed sources “what her critics call ‘muchness’”, “A local interior decorator calls Wearstler’s aesthetic ‘anti-taste’”, returning me to my earlier complaint that the New Yorker really needs to hire a writer with some personal perspective on design/architecture), I must take time for a small rant.

THIS IS HIDEOUS.

All the furniture is apparently scaled for a giant. It is all either slippery or pointy. That head would frighten me every time I walked into the room in the dark. It looks like Wearstler tried to turn a Fornasetti screen into a room, and those are already on the borderline of taste. Every item is busy with pattern, striation, shine or brushstrokes. I can appreciate that she’s working against the grandeur of the house, but it doesn’t feel as if anyone lives there. “Fun” is apparently embodied by the oversize custom grafitti wallpaper in the opening spread of the story and the jumping bodies of her omnipresent and adorable sons. (Ha Ha, people think her kids did it.) Even the flowers look like they were left over from the Juicy country house shoot.

I am not trying to be some sort of anti-decoration killjoy. I’m about to write an essay on Warren Platner, the man who reintroduced brass in the modern era. I do love the Art Deco-inspired carpet. I feel even if you liked this on arrival, it would pall quickly. Wearstler seems to be decorating for this very moment, trying to stay ahead of her imitators. She’s already cycled through mid-century and Regency, increasing the scale, color, metallics and human sculpture each time. She’s lucky enough to be able to move to a new house and start again, but I fear her clients aren’t so lucky. In the New Yorker story, I felt sad for the husband convinced by strategic feminine silence into choosing expensive white silk carpeting for his living room. How will they keep the dogs off it? That’s not really her problem.



Posted in: Magazines

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Alexandra Lange Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.

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