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Dictionaries of taste change on the whim of a lounge lizard

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Lounge lizards are the modern-day equivalent of the pub crawler. These people who know the tasteful, over-zealous, even downright pretentious stylistic traits of the hip hotel owners, absorb all the variations that make up the dictionary of interior design.

They are in themselves the tastemakers because they decide where to gather. The critics respond in their droves, and feature this bar or that in all the taste-making journals, until the next place is identified.

I wandered into the centre of Vienna last week to try to have a drink in the Loos Bar on the instructions of my editor (although she never offered to pay for a round). It was 1am and I couldn't even get through the door as the late-night drinkers had decided to wind up there. So I went round the corner to one of my old favourites, the Kix Bar. I had not been there for three or four years, but nothing had changed. The walls were painted by an artist when it first opened more than 10 years ago and have only been refreshed and maintained. Even the furniture is original.

It would be sacrilege to change anything, as the whole is an artwork and not some fashionable gesture.

Loos'American Bar is another prime example of maintaining the essence of the day. By doing this the city begins to acquire an expanding gallery, reworked, remodelled and reinvented every five to seven years - a process that underlines the competitiveness in the marketplace, as well as the fickleness of the customer. The lost places are condemned to books. I am not for keeping things - I believe change is imperative to any healthy society - but the willingness to do away with everything, with no value judgement, undermines people's sense of place and their own history.

I am always amazed at how much press is devoted to the coverage of interior design.

The magazine racks of newsagents are full of publications devoted to domestic titivation.

Certain digital channels are virtually wall-towall with programmes like Changing Rooms USA and Changing Rooms New Zealand, makeovers, make-ups and make-believes.

It would appear that the nation has become obsessed with the state of its homes and concerned about the messages they transmit to others.

As social life has transferred from the pub to home entertainment, our judgement on each other is made on outward appearances, as opposed to the inner qualities revealed in the neutrality of the local saloon. This obsession, fired by a world of increasing materialism, tends to create a finite time for each outward appearance of the home, as the contents become out of date. We now have people becoming fashion victims of interior decor. Like the bars and lounges, their interiors tend to be totally revamped every five years or so. This is a consumerist world of no deep commitment to anything.

One of the contributors to this is the lounge lizard, whose preferences feed the fashion industry and consequently the media. This animal, who lives off the work of others, has determined a whole social movement, which is perhaps a little unwholesome. Meanwhile, the world of architecture, which we are literally surrounded by, only manages to command very little media coverage, restricted generally to what has been built, or what is about to be constructed. By the critics' own myopia, or the interference of editors who believe architecture is merely building, the population is denied access to a world of ideas and imagination, which lies well beyond the mundanity of the building site.

From the lounge of the Capri Palace Hotel

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