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Art of Design: What Is Hip?

Joseph Pubillones on

I think my parents were ultra-cool. I haven't always thought that. As a child, I was a bit reticent about change and hated the process of their self-discovery. I remember when we transitioned from a suburban two-story colonial -- a traditional household replete with velvet furniture covered in see-through plastic ala Joan Crawford's living room -- to sleek, low-slung Danish furniture peppered with rattan. And I could never forget the transparent furniture in Lucite when we moved to a condominium smack dab in the middle of downtown Coral Gables, Florida.

Yes, everything changed -- even their clothing, from tailored suits to free-flowing shirts with bell-bottom pants, accompanied by platform shoes. Oh, how I hated those clothes, as well as the feel of the polyester fabrics, which were especially hot in South Florida. But I must admit that they embraced and evolved with the styles of their days. In essence, they were hip!

Certain things of the past are worth revisiting. More recently we have been seeing a midcentury modern trend, styling on everything from boomerang sofas to sleek cabinetry with lines reminiscent of the 1960s and '70s. While these styles are quite fetching for their clean designs, this type of styling does have its limitations. Classic finishes and selections go the extra mile in home renovations.

Midcentury modern design started as a response to the quickly multiplying homes of the post-World War II era. It was a special time influenced by travel into space and the world of Madison Avenue advertising. Homes were less and less routed in classical traditions and embraced everything that was new and innovative. Homes were also more compact, and living standards simplified. These were the years that saw the development of the shag rug, cork wall tiles and macrame curtains -- as well as the intercom, tape recorders and color TV.

Today, midcentury is enjoying a revival thanks to contemporary and minimalist architecture. Furniture designed by Eames, Wassily, Le Corbusier and Knoll are just as much in vogue today as they were nearly 60 years ago when originally produced. These signature pieces are considered design classics and can be mixed with most any furniture styles. Successful projects by designers today show that it just takes a touch from the classics. Going overboard with midcentury furnishings can make your project seem like a time capsule rather than a stylish home.


We all loved the Brady Bunch home, as it was the home of a forward-thinking architect and his trendsetting blended family. Mrs. Brady's orange mica kitchen was a hit, but don't try it today; the same goes for harvest gold or Avocado green appliances for your home. These were great back in their day, but some things should never be revisited. Like in fashion, if you have worn it once in your life, that trend should never be tried again. Allow yourselves, like my parents did, to evolve your sense of style over time, so that you will always be hip.


Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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