Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Portlandia + Timelessness

A couple of weeks ago designer Frank Chimero posted a rant on his blog about “timeless” design. In a nutshell: what we call timeless today is a rough approximation of mainstream work in 1962, the work we see from that era looks good because time and taste have already separated the wheat from the chaff, and what’s so great about “timeless” design anyway?

Some might say that this blog’s design has some “timeless” qualities. I will let you in on a secret: I am lazy. I want to make as few decisions as possible, but I want those choices to be good ones. I don’t add cruft, because I’d have to make the cruft so that I could add it. And then I’d have to decide where it would go, when all I really want to do is find that chimp with the ice cream cone and hang out with him.

I’d been thinking about this post because I agree with him. I’m thrilled with our current definition of “timeless” design, but I know that is because I am well aware my taste is straight out of 1962. The process of writing the Design Research book was one of discovering that the things I grew up with, many of which I bought again for my own house, were all for sale at D/R, and thus, what I thought was idiosyncratic was actually collective.