Reality check

Have designers actually been getting through to consumers? Has tasteful, contemporary styling really had its day? Judging by a couple of new books, this is the case. Designers, beware, the Ugly Betty design effect could be taking hold. Living Normally comes with the strapline (or should that be the health warning?) ‘where life comes before style’. Life in most of the 15 UK dwellings photographed is untidy, untasteful and bordering on the unhygienic. Contrary to what we are led to believe by colour supplements and interiors magazines, not every consumer has been seduced by Tom Dixon. Ailing houseplants, piles of post, undressed windows – it’s all there. It should spell design disaster, but Niki Medlik’s pictures are refreshing. They stick two fingers up to the style dictators. Bert Teunissen’s Domestic Landscapes is a Continental European equivalent, though more aesthetically presented and with a greater emphasis on old- fashioned domesticity. Each subject is shot in his or her interior, creating a portrait with atmosphere. Both books are an insight into real living, although interior designers with a boutique hotel to fit out may well be picking through Teunissen’s for quirky, ethnic inspiration.

Living Normally, by Trevor Naylor and Niki Medlik, is published by Thames & Hudson, priced £12.95. Domestic Landscapes, by Bert Teunissen, is published by Aperture, priced £27.50

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