return to Outside Circle Collective - OCC ( an art collective ) home    community log    discussions    jomas    jowai    newsletters    login    

ikeaphobia and its discontents (and how it relates to artists in general)

Let's face it... it isn't cool or hip to enjoy mass-marketed products, ideas, art or design.

But why do we do it?  Read Adam Greenfield's thoughts:

"It's happened again.

Not for the first time, I was subjected the other day to a heartfelt diatribe on how Ikea has singlehandedly leached all the vitality and vigor out of the world, shoehorned human creativity into an infinity of barcode-anonymous MDF wall units, and spawned endless cyborg armies of khaki-clad, essentially fungible consumervolk.

You read that right: Ikea." [ read more ]

  • Is there a parallel with typical reactions to Starbucks and Ikea with the art world?
  • Is the Bauhausian ideals of bringing good (design) to the masses now uncool?
  • Why does the "Masses" part overrule the good art, ideas and design?
  • Why does society "fight the power" and feel like "the man" is bringing them down?

Thoughts anyone?

Criticism and Theory  
In order to post a message, you must be logged in
message date / author
thoughts just hit: why is it cool to have democratic ideals, yet uncool when the masses make those ideals popular? is this the same as rooting for the underdog? I apologize in advance if I'm not making sense...1/31/2004 1:15:49 AM
Planet Starbucks! I love the cg sequence that Greenfield references from "Fight Club." Am I tragically unhip because I liked this hollywood hit with such big-screen names as Fincher, Norton and (gasp) Pitt? Is film no longer an art form because it is mass marketed? I would like to imagine that art can be accessible to the masses and still maintain it's integrity, still have meaning, but what do i know, i still can't resist buying clothes with the addidas logo on them!1/31/2004 1:58:39 PM
nick - interesting query. i think the unappeal of producing art for a mass audience is the fear that we might be "dumbing it down" for the lowest common denominator... which is a dilemma often brought up in the context of trying to make intellectual documentary films mentally accessible to a wide audience. i heard an interesting young british filmmaker (David Malone) speak in manchester a couple months ago about this very thing, and his solution was to capitalize on the globalized market by not trying to reach EVERYONE, but instead targeting a very specific deomographic (or group of people) but on a global scale. hmmm.... interesting... kind of like what we are doing right now with OCC!!2/1/2004 9:41:03 AM
Julia and Ande - I put some thought into this over the weekend... You are correct. Not only does society mainstream nitche thoughts and things, but over time most are adapted to the widest audience possible.

Two areas I've been thinking about (especially with Ande's reference to adidas above) is fashion and food. One year hip cats are finding discarded t-shirts from salvation army, the next Abercromie and Fitch is mass producing "vintage logo" t-shirts.

Maybe this is all because of the circular cycle. Hip and trendy things must be handed down to the masses before they die a slow painful death. Then they are recycled after death to trendiness again... remember bell bottoms coming back as boot cut?
2/2/2004 8:37:06 AM
I'm still trying to figure out if this cycle comes back to format arts... it certainly does with design... consider the surfacing of modern design from the 19th century.

Or is it just "timeless"?
2/2/2004 8:39:10 AM
i don't know- there are certain designs (as well as art objects, movies, fashion, food?!) that could be considered timeless, but then again, many of the work created in the 20th C was just so ahead of it's time, that the audiences "style acceptance" has finally caught up to it. i think of marcel bruer's chairs (from the '30s) in the '80s. wow- did you see those everywhere (esp one smade w/ wicker). now they're "out," but swedish deisgn from the 80's is in. will postmodern designs like memphis' be in next year? you can buy michael graves designs at target, but does that mean that bluecollar betty is going to buy his tea kettle?2/3/2004 12:03:16 PM
The window we are observing is very small - the last 100 years. I'd be very interested in finding resources on what was considered timeless, mainstream, niche, or even "cool" ideas from centuries past. Anyone got any ideas where to look? I haven't a clue.2/5/2004 8:13:09 AM
Why don't we all jump off the fashion/cool treadmill? Expose it as another way to keep us buying stuff. Now that the early 80s are "cool" again (note: the 8os were not cool and nothing can make them cool) and crap-merchants are peddling gel bracelets and leg-warmers, perhaps we should invest in flannel in early anticipation of the return of grunge. Should be the new "retro" trend by about 2015.

I guess that's a little off the point, but maybe an analogous condition to the oscillations of design/anti-design in consumer culture.

2/7/2004 2:52:36 PM
The fluctuations imposed on us by the fashion- and image-mongers is not necessarily the context within which we have to define ourselves. Example: I have been wearing the same clothes since High School (I'll probably need a spatula to get them off!). Seriously, though, why do we turn to the mass market at all for sundries? Why not design and build (and thus define) your own furniture. Why not create (or modify) your own clothing?.2/14/2004 1:24:14 PM
what I'm trying to say is that designers are not "anointed" individuals. Obsessive, yes.

I have read recently "If you obsess, you will excel." (William V. Dunning, in "Advice to Young Artists in a Postmodern Era")

2/18/2004 2:59:53 AM
In order to post a message, you must be logged in