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by KNQ Associates ( last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:43 AM
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by KNQ Associates ( last modified Sep 10, 2010



It's a funny phenomenon. Recently, a client had wanted me to help her find a new sofa for her living room, which we had rejuvenated not too long ago. The new settee finally came after weeks and weeks of anticipation. But that's when the troubles really begin. She now finds the existing coffee table, the rug and the dining set looking too crummy - even when I told her these decade old solid teak pieces look perfectly alright in the house - and wanted to replace these as well.

Call it the Diderot effect. In case you don't know what it means, Wikipedia defines it as "a social phenomenon related to goods that form culturally defined groups that are considered cohesive". If you get a new piece of furniture, everything else might start looking pretty tired suddenly.

The story of Diderot, the French philosopher, rings true in the modern context especially. A poor Diderot was given a beautiful silk smoking jacket by his wealthy patron one day and started to find everything else he had unacceptable from then on. Systematically, as Diderot made more money, he began replacing everything in his apartment until all his possessions matched the quality of that silk smoking jacket.

I'm in a business selling style. My studio does not sell furniture. We're not selling lamps. Our ultimate product is essentially a dwelling designed to fit the requirements and tastes of the occupants. Honestly, I feel knowing more about your personal style is more important than following trends or fads. In a way, that could be the antidote to counteract the dreaded Diderot effect.

In the case of my client, there's nothing wrong with those remaining solid wood furniture. In fact, each individual piece has so much character to it, and she even told me how much she loved the set when she first bought it. But obviously the marketers and media are doing a better job than me - the furniture are set to go.

If only she had placed more emphasis on her own personal style this time round, and not lead a lifestyle imposed onto her by decor magazines. Sigh...




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