January 1, 2006
The latest products and interiors bring together disparate items in unexpected combinations.
The term mash-up became common in pop music a few years ago as a way to describe a genre—sometimes called “bastard pop”—that combines two tunes to produce an entirely new song. Web designers have appropriated the term to refer to sites that recombine content from more than one source: for example, chicagocrime.org overlays Chicago crime stats on Google maps. The concept has also migrated to other design disciplines—graphics, products, and interiors, for instance—where the mixing and layering of styles and materials in unexpected combinations has taken hold. Fifty, a members-only club in London by Jeffrey Beers, brings together backlit mirrors and a contemporary handcrafted chandelier in a nineteenth-century interior. And departing from his usual repertoire of clothes, luggage, and accessories, Paul Smith recently opened a “curiosity shop” in London that houses objects and art from around the world whose only common characteristic is that they are unique. It is a highly curated and peculiarly defined aesthetic that deliberately contrasts and blends high and low. These products and interiors mark a cross-cultural shift that goes beyond bricolage to open new design possibilities.