What is good taste?

by jennine on August 28, 2007

One of my favorite design topics is elevating public taste. It seems to be the modernist brief, to somehow break taste down to a formula so it can be delivered to the masses. Quotes like “Less is more.” and Coco Chanel’s “Before you leave the house, take one thing off”. “Don’t wear white shoes after labor day.” Back in modernist times, the mass production of architecture, furniture, clothing, basically our world was dictated by designers who truly had a vision of what good taste was, form with function, minimal.

This idea affected the notion of good taste in many ways. Good taste, sophistication is equated with simplicity, elegance. How many times had I left the house, feeling like the female version of Mr. T, with more gold than Goldfinger. Gaudy. I know that’s me, deep down inside I’ve tried good taste via simplicity, but it feels like a costume, and they always know it’s inauthentic. So what’s next? What is good taste in the 21st century? Less is a bore. We’ve managed to figure out that much for the time being, but taste is somewhat communicated through a series of brand names and celebrities. Both subjects much more abstract than they appear on the surface. How else would you explain the phenomenon of the celebrity designer? Model mania?

I have to ask myself what does it mean to elevate personal taste? How does one become sophisticated, chic? Grown up? As if those words mean anything. If good taste can’t be purchased, nor is there a formula for it…

Is ‘good taste’ merely an intuitive process, one that requires thought and consideration? How do you know you have it?

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danada August 28, 2007 at 4:31 pm

I wonder about good taste too; it inherently has a conotation as something less than challenging. I mean, we would never describe art as being in “good taste” . I think a loftier goal would be a point of view. A sense of color, texture, space, etc. and the sense to say screw all that sometimes.

WendyB August 28, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Ha! I love “less is a bore.”

Nitin Malapally April 13, 2010 at 6:09 am

My observations on “Good Taste”.

A tendency to incline towards extremes is definitely not good taste. It is also necessary to steer clear of widely accepted stereotypes of the time frame one lives in. I’ve come to think that the development of a good taste is merely an evolutionary procedure of our society by which new avenues of thought are explored and older and er, heavier flavours of thought are discarded. Subtly impressive originality is also to be respected.

Taking up the idea of clothing, good taste is observed in Original Flavours. Each of us has a flavoured mindset. It is essential to lay bare what we exactly think we are without being too loud at the same time.

There are no rules for good taste except these two:

1.) The Extremes are out of bounds for good taste. Equilibrium can not be attained at the extremes. An extremity suggests a ravenous appetite for attention and narrow mindedness.

2.) Stereotypes are death. We want to filter out those people who seem to not be able to differentiate between, let us say, 2.13 and 2.12. Common vibrations reflect badly and imply non-revolutionary (or rather, non-evolutionary) thinking.

And we all want to acquire Food, Sex and Shelter by appearing valuable. So let us strive for Good Taste.

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