Design: Darling, how utterly Yang

E Jane Dickson marvels at the mysteries of lifestyle magazines
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The Independent Culture
CHUCK OUT your chintz. Bin your Bonetti. And you know what you can do with your Sottsass. Le dernier cri in interior decorating, the cynosure of all sophisticates, is an arrangement of pigs' mandibles and fish-bones slung from your roof-pole.

It's true. I read it in nest , the US monthly almanac of style which has just hit British news-stands.

Alongside articles on Keith Haring's mural of "iconic dicks", the demented daubings of The Marquess of Bath (iconic breasts, mainly) and a painfully po-faced "appreciation" of Barbie's 1962 Dream House, the tree dwellings of the Asmat tribe of Indonesian New Guinea are described in breathless, estate-agent's prose: "The tree houses of Amarou and Mbinamzein," we are told, "are small but seemingly more spacious thanks to the splinters of light that radiate inward, not just through the thatched roof and bark walls but also from be1ow through the gaps in the floor . . ." but before you take a hatchet to your parquet, please be advised that nest is not intended as a yet another interiors magazine, but as "a magazine of interiors" and that nest wants to be read by anyone who wakes up in the morning or in the afternoon with a healthy curiosity about how others express themselves where they live."

Well strike me pink (the new black, don't you know). For someone who wakes up with a healthy curiosity as to where my shoes are in the deep litter that surrounds me, I can only look at home-style magazines - the fastest growing sector of print journalism - as a cow might gaze at the moon. Who are these people who can write in Elle Decoration that "the secret of modern living is in good cupboards" and mean it?

I am intrigued to learn from the same publication that black grass (pounds 7.95 a root) is the only grass to be seen with (what are they going to do with all the green stuff), scared by the revelation that storage guru Dawn Walters "styles" her house every night, and cheered by the return of stone- cladding. It's true! The favoured style statement of Jack and Vera Duckworth is back, but this time it's dead classy.

And why, when you think about it, shouldn't it be? Someone must have liked it the first time around, and, as the mushrooming style-mag market shows, we now aspire to change our sofas as often as our socks, with the Conran shop bringing out a twice-yearly "collection" of "must-have pieces". For it is style journalists who feed the beast, setting trends one month and stamping on them the next.

Not so, says Living etc. a newcomer to the middle market, lifestyle magazines might have made the buying public more aware of design in recent years, but at the end of the day, it is the consumer who chooses what to buy." Living etc. to be fair keeps one foot firmly on the ground, with its policy of photographing "rea1 people in real homes".

Conde Nast's World of Interiors, on the other hand is the Alan Clark of the style mags, not for people who buy their own sink units. The current issue contains a sprited defence of the Lord Chancellor's renovations and a guide to the latest ceramic garden stools. Inspiration and aspiration are the watchwords here, but even World of Interiors will make sure there is something for the little people in each issue.

Wallpaper, on the other hand, throws no sops to democracy. This is the magagine that would rather stay standing thank you, than sit on an IKEA bean bag. The nearest it comes to a practical suggestion this month (admittedy a dedicated travel issue) is the drawling observation that since "modern nomads" are never at home, it seems pointless to own one. Why not design a hotel room to your own specification and have it replicated in every city you visit? And please don't let yourself down by talking about the kind of bedspread or duvet you want, the only thing to have these days is - God help us - a bed-scarf).

Finally, once you've hung laminated rose petals at your window as a twist on the beaded curtain, and trundled to the skip with your perfumed candles, you'll be needing Feng Shui for Modern Living magazine to make sure that your carefully edited objects are auspiciously disposed about your home. One false move, apparently, and your ch'i flies straight out the window. Post-ironic retro-chic be damned. I predict that by the autumn, the compliment every hostess will crave will be "But darling, how utterly Yang!"

the taste dictators

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"Carpets are unhygienic. More hotel rooms should have wooden floors"


"Beware the beige. Banish all that is sad and sombre from your



"Rows of horseheads sprouting vegetable headdresses hint at a bizarre union of natural kingdoms"


curtains in Yin hues of porcelain green..."