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Is minimalism dead? Trump’s surprising impact on interior design trends

Recently, famous interior decorators have been shifting away from clean lines, muted colors, and geometric designs in favor of the lavish, ornate, and redundant. Tacky or grandiloquent?

Ever since the apparition of the Bauhaus movement in the 1920’s and 30’s architectural and product design has characterized for prioritizing simplicity and function. In a world economy where resources are increasingly scarcer and competition fiercer, popular culture and art has generally turned away from the heavily adorned and instead has embraced the sober.

Interior design in the Trump era: Is minimalism dead? by Benjamin Pineros

The iconic “Barcelona Chair” by Mies Van der Rohe

Pioneer of modern architecture Mies Van der Rohe once famously said  “Less is more”. That concept has permeated society to our days. Our laptops, house appliances and cellphones are testimony of it.

Interior design in the Trump era: Is minimalism dead? by Benjamin Pineros

Interior design in the Trump era: Is minimalism dead? by Benjamin Pineros

University of Iowa’s visual arts building by Steven Holl

But very recently, a small lot of renowned interior designers seem to be going back to previous styles like Rococo, characterized for over-the-top adornment, natural patterns and an all-round exuberant feel.

New York-based interior designer Sasha Bikoff, who labels her style as ‘Maximalist’ told Business Insider, “I consider myself to have a big personality, and I’m interested in a lot of different things. I wouldn’t be able to show who I was if I were a minimalist. I don’t dress minimalistically, and my apartment also isn’t designed in that way.

“A lot of these very commercial furniture companies do very modern furniture … and I think people are getting bored of this look, and getting bored of having what everyone else has.”

Meanwhile, James Tabb, designer for LA-based startup Laurel & Wolf has a similar stance. “We’ve kind of seen this whole movement of people wanting clean lines and modern. It almost made furniture and accessories really boring.

“It’s hard to do simple in an elegant way. People are getting tired of the sameness and going for wallpaper and texture.”

But wait. Doesn’t all this sound a lot like Trump’s style? His penthouse at Trump Tower is well known for being anything but subtle. Doesn’t he even have those elaborate Louis XV chairs? And let me tell you, those are the best chairs, you can ask anybody…

Last November, The New York Daily News published an article speculating that Trump’s White House would be one of “gaudy gold decor and gaudy touches.”

Trump’s penthouse in NYC

So, does this mean that Trump’s over-the-top, ludicrous aesthetic is actually on trend? Well not quite.

Bikoff, whose motto is “More is more,” and who loves to use zebra prints and golden leafs on crown moldings, doesn’t feel that the president’s style adheres particularly to her vision. For her, ‘Maximalism’ is more about expressing artistic taste rather than a garish display of wealth.

“I don’t think that particular apartment is aspirational,” Bikoff says, “I just got back from St. Petersburg, for example, and that is a city of palaces … I think that is aspirational because when you’re working in this form, you have to hire artisans, and they’ve been doing this craft for ages.”

Interior reception at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate in Florida

So, what do you think? Is this trend just a tacky, passing caprice for whoever can afford it, or a new trend that’s here to stay?

About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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