Saison

To some, it’s very important to be on trend. Clothes, social habits, television shows, furniture, interior decor, these are areas wherein lies a fine line between being now and being then.

We often happen across this word zeitgeist, things are described as being zeitgeisty. Sounds impressive but what exactly does it mean? Zeitgeist is defined as ‘the spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time’.

Right now in our post financial crash world being in tune with the zeitgeist would mean having a penchant for the micro, for the artisan, for the craft.  For seeking to reject the unethical and destructive practices implicit in mass production. For seeking to relinquish our reliance on dysfunctional global systems which can easily unravel with predictable consequences for the little guy. For having more regard for how our lifestyle choices impact on the planet’s finite resources; reducing, reusing, recycling and upcycling. We can see how popular culture reflects the zeitgeist; the architect George Clarke and his Amazing Spaces, hipsters and their upgraded high nellies and craft ales. Culture and design seek to reflect the sentiment of the wider populace, to provide a narrative for the prevailing wisdom.

The designer Breffni McGeough produced a garden at Bloom this year which provided a beautiful snapshot of where we are at. No garden provoked more comment and arguably no garden divided opinion more than Breffni’s. It was a working microbrewery surrounded by a sample of the crops which are habitually used in the brewing process.

Breffni McGeough’s ‘Saison’

It was a feast for the eyes but the interesting thing is that it was fabricated completely from recycled materials. For the visitor the finished product was visually arresting and very impressive but I, as an eye witness to its fraught and difficult genesis over three weeks, was even more impressed. There is a particular skill and, above all, patience required to conjure beauty out of rubbish. And that is essentially what Breffni did; he would arrive each morning with his trailer load of detritus and proceed to set about concocting a new role for it, painstakingly redeploying each piece as a pivotal part of a design that would turn heads at the show for five straight days. A thing acquires a special kind of beauty when it has been saved from the landfill and given a new life.

Breffni’s garden in a perverse way was very much on trend. Not in the way that immediately springs to mind; oozing bling and expensive elements. On trend in that way that involves looking to ourselves, becoming conscious of the scarceness of the planet’s bounty and the immorality of dumping perfectly good materials into which precious resources were vested in their creation.

Being on trend is important to some but it shouldn’t necessarily have anything to do with having polished granite worktops or living in a shipping container. There are extremes in these things. Reasonable, enlightened people understand the immorality of excess and waste; Breffni McGeough’s garden beautifully showed us another way. I’m sure Breffni won’t mind being called on trend for doing it. There are worse things.

Speaking of worse, run a mile from Kirstie Allsopp’s Homemade Home on Channel 4.Something tells me Kirstie doesn’t really feel it, she was just stuck for a hip show idea to keep her face on the telly. Don’t mind Kirstie. It’s more about mindset, you don’t need to knit a TV or roof your house with flattened bean tins to get involved.

Remember there is still merit in the odd thing which hasn’t been fashioned from a heap of old pallets. Don’t let pinterest.com drive you demented, the smallest thing can give the rosy glow that you have saved something so look around; there’s always a way to conjure a new use from a discarded item. But take it easy. So you didn’t hand build your conservatory from old tupperware, that’s OK, your friends will still return your calls.

Upcycling, repurposing, reusing, reinterpreting, reimagining is all good. But like anything moderation is key.

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