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What Is "Modern Design" Now?

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With the closing of Metropolitan Home magazine last week, the design world lost a champion of modernism. There has been a great deal of breast-beating ever since: What magazines are left to fight the modern fight?

I salute Met Home and I'm sorry to see it go. But those old battle lines of modern-is-hip vs. traditional-is-stuffy just don't work for me anymore. I've had it with hip. We are drowning in hipness, in the blind worship of gallerylike rooms in glass-walled buildings that are to me the biggest cliché of all. Who isn't hip these days, when there are "next hot neighborhoods" and "artists' lofts" in every city, when everybody is drinking the vodka of the moment to the same thumping bass line in indistinguishable "boutique" hotels?

Now that we're all certifiably hip and modern, maybe we need to rethink what the word "modern" means today. To me, it's not just the lone-chair-in-an-empty-room stories in the T section of The New York Times; it's about the dynamic, original thinking going on across the working design community every day. Modern thinking is there to be found in every style, the traditional as well as the hard-edged ones. It's time we started judging the true originality of all design again, not just design with a capital D.

Haven't we learned by now: The coolest person in the room is usually the one who looks like the biggest geek.

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