I returned from Europe on Friday and took a few days to rest and acclimate to the time change. It was a whirlwind trip and I experienced so much, I’ll share more of what I saw in the weeks to come.
I noticed something during my trip, that the power of the internet is taking over the world of design. As we become more connected, elements of design are on exponential repeat around the globe.
I was sitting in a cafe in Brussels a week ago, and it struck me how I really could have been in Anywhere, USA. The ubiquitous elements were all present: white subway tile, metal Tolix barstools, black warehouse pendants.
cafe in brussels
There is an emerging harmonization of “style”, and globalization is the reason behind it. It’s assumed people have the same tastes and expect a certain look when they enter a coffee shop or bistro. Edison bulbs, brick walls, reclaimed wood, industrial chairs. These elements are now commonplace around the world.
cafe in prague
I stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Prague last week, and immediately noticed that every single cup, pillow, piece of art and furniture came from IKEA. Clearly, the proprietor had taken the quick and easy route with the decor. It was clean and pretty, but it had no soul.
Brands like IKEA have heavily influenced the global design aesthetic making it all too simple to buy from big box stores to furnish a space, then call it a day. They sell products loved at first sight, but ones that eventually become boring once everyone else owns them. We love to shop IKEA because it’s cheap and mostly well made, but become blasé when we see the same products rearranged and photographed over and over again.
IKEA is not alone in the manufacturing of sameness. I stepped into a home store in Antewerp and thought, again, this could be Anywhere USA, these homogeneous products are for sale to appease the masses. I saw several things I loved for my home, but knew I could find something similar back home.
zara home, antewerp, belgium
I stayed in an Airbnb loft in Brussels, the decor was curated and more eclectic, which I appreciated. The owner had filled the space with necessities, and had also taken the time to layer the space with interesting artwork and lighting. Greater effort had been made to mix classic and modern, old and new.
loft in brussels, belgium
When I ducked into the lobby of a hotel in Bruges in Belgium, I unexpectedly entered a room filled with dappled light and curvy wingback chairs upholstered in luxurious velvet. I stopped to soak it all in because it was a medley of colors and shapes never seen before. There was no “sameness” present here. It was a unique and beautiful space filled with classic and thoughtful touches that made sense in this little place in the world.
hotel de orangerie, bruges, belgium
Anyone who browses Pinterest notices this sameness I speak of. The safe choices. A herd mentality where people adopt the same look, over and over. Sameness swallowing uniqueness.
This is what I’ve come to appreciate about blogs with originality and sites like Apartment Therapy house tours. It’s refreshing to see people move away from a bandwagon style of decorating. It’s another reason why I love to travel, to experience both sides of design, to observe the effects of globalization and mass produced sameness, but also to encounter the uniqueness that still remains.
This is why we need creatives in this world, the artists and designers who beautify spaces with their talents and individual expression. As threatening as the internet is to uniqueness, it’s also necessary for innovation, so the same look doesn’t get rehashed over and over again.
If you’re like me, you look forward to reading blogs and design sites every day because it’s there where we’re stimulated, educated, and inspired about design. What are your thoughts on “sameness” in design? Do you get bored of the same look too?