THE SECRET MEANING OF THINGS
By Stephen Bayley
9 November 2017 ● Circa Press ● £29.95 clothbound
From the authority on art and style comes a ground-breaking study on taste which examines culture in both its success and excess
Taste is an engrossing but maddeningly elusive subject. As soon as you accept that our preferences are influenced by external factors, all certainties are challenged. Is there such thing as ‘the best’? Is your taste worse than mine? Who says? And can we ever discern excellence, let alone reach full certainty?
In Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things, Stephen Bayley tracks the shifts and diversions of opinion across culture and throughout time in order to discover what exactly determines taste. Part suggestive essay – imbroglio – and part scenario, Stephen Bayley both illuminates the nuances and niceties of our mercurial understanding of taste and examines how it has developed in relation to architecture, design, food and fashion.
Taste is a paradox: both a myth and a reality. But a notable correlation – Bayley asserts – far from unanimous ideals on style and aesthetic, is instead tied up in manners and class. Whether it is the Victorians seizing upon the notion of ‘good taste’ as a way of codifying middle-class mores, or the fear in our modern age of what taste unveils about the judgement-maker, notions of class and manners persist.
About the author: Stephen Bayley is an author, critic, columnist, consultant, broadcaster, curator and founding director of the influential Design Museum in London. Sharp, witty and incisive, over the past thirty years his writing has changed the way the world thinks about design.
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