Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Are you Nouveau Retro?

Here’s the concept:

Nouveau is an adjective meaning newly or recently created, developed, or come to prominence.

Retro, of course, means Involving, relating to, or reminiscent of things past.

So…Nouveau Retro means – Da Da Da DAAAAAA – something that is NEW that is purposefully designed to look like or remind us of something OLD – which is hardly a “new” concept at all, when you think about it.

I guess I AM Nouveau Retro if we are talking about craftsman furniture and the whole Arts & Crafts movement a la Greene and Greene or Stickley:

I like solid wood and the cozy warmth that real wood, glass, and leather seem to naturally have.

I even prefer these warm, cozy and saturated sorts of colors in my art.

The latest Nouveau Retro trend has a very thrift store sort of vibe to it…

Not that I’m against a creative and eclectic gathering of things one loves …I’m SO for that sort concept. I love this idea that one would fill spaces with things that plucks the heartstrings and fills the head with creative ideas.

This generation of the trend also seems to mix a lot of retro eras into one space – perhaps elements of the 40’s through the 80’s all included.

It gives the impression that a group of objects were amassed over time and that the time over which they were gathered might have been multi-generational.

I got to wondering if there is a metaphor for our culture.

Does this mean that so many by-gone eras, each highly distinct, are so mis-understood, mis-represented in the media that the current generations cannot tell one “retro” from another?

Or does it mean that we have begun to recognize that time is like a river and that generations of people tend to flow into one another, providing direction, memory, guidance, and problems to clean up.

Is it that we find the past kitschy and humorous and need to see the follies to remind ourselves where not to go?

Or that we have started to appreciate that everyone’s story is precious and tender and worth telling?

Perhaps it that we are simply tired of planned obsolescence and the frivolity of cheap, throw-away stuff and are looking for objects to fill our lives that bear not only the weight of real substance, but the weight of stories and memories. Perhaps we are looking to ground ourselves to something with a lasting quality…

Maybe in this age of digital photos, virtual games, video meetings and mobile telephones, we want something that will withstand the march of time and remain ever a sold surface for us to lay our hands upon…

What do you think?


Enjoy the Ride said...

I believe wholeheartedly in your first comment, about the current generation not able to tell one "retro" from the other. In the 80's, when I was a teen, retro was the 60's... so we all dressed in tye dye and wore peace signs and thought we were oh-so-trendy. My teen today in the new millenium is wearing those same clothes that I wore in the 80's... yet with a 60's spin on it. Peace signs are back in... but they don't get it's from the 60's. When "my" retro was 60's... I thought I "got" what the 60's were all about, but I know the adults who were teens in the 60's just shook their heads and sighed. And I do the same now, with my teen. ;) Great post!

Rachel said...

I love this--my answers are yes, yes, yes, and yes! I agree with all of those interpretations. It's certainly interesting to think about how the trends reflect the values and "psyche," I guess, for lack of a better word, of a generation. It's sort of like a barometer for cultural climate. I like that.
How thoughtful.
I really enjoyed this post.

Also, I just want you to know how much your comments on my blog have meant to me. My situation right now feels so bleak. It's wonderful to know that such an amazing, thoughtful, strong woman as yourself has been there too and come out the other side. It gives me hope. And suddenly I don't feel so alone.
I am touched and overwhelmed (in a good way) that someone I've never met in person would take the time to support me so whole heartedly. A million thank you' are truly a blessing.