The seismic decision to leave the European Union will, without a doubt, impact on design trends, and here’s why.
When we woke up as a nation on the 24th June 2016 we did so as a changed population. Whilst nothing in reality looked different, there was a gargantuan shift in terms of our conscious alignment.
No longer were we a part of the European Union, but a soon to be Independent-will-it-be-great- Britain-again? A great big question mark loomed over where we were headed. Did anyone predict the shock of the result?
Throughout history, art and design have offered us a multi-focus lens to look back in time. Delacroix’s famous ‘Liberty Leads the People’ comes to mind, painted in 1830 to commemorate the toppling of King Charles X of France.
Whilst this can be viewed as a most literal depiction of the French revolution there are also other less obvious signals that tell us what was going on at the time. For example Delacroix introduced a freedom to his brushstroke that had been (previously) reviled by the establishment.
We view this as a triumph from where we sit now, but at the time it was simply shocking and forced the viewer to see a new reality. He was a pioneer of the Romantics and famously said, ‘And if I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.’
He was right. There is power in creative expression.
What was happening on our shores at this time? The answer is one of the most profound and far-reaching art movements of all time. Its influence was felt as far afield as America and Japan, which, considering this is the 1860’s we are talking about, is simply remarkable.
Britain’s response to the industrial revolution was the Arts and Crafts Movement with John Ruskin and William Morris at the helm. So too was this phenomenal creative movement born out of protest.
Still has saliency for today?
I hadn’t given much thought to the reality of a ‘leave’ result and was shocked to the core when my husband, Clive, woke me a little earlier than usual with the news on Friday 24th. After I had asked him five times if he was sure, and if he had checked the results, the reality started to seep in and a huge sense of loss ensued. Certainly, great change was afoot.
We all know the tsunami of events that came fast and furious after this, however, it’s now clear that the change will require time, effort, resource, and a calm and steady nation ready to roll up its sleeves.
These kinds of shifts in the public consciousness are the great tides that affect the designers’ ‘voice’. They change the colour, the tone and the impact of what we have to say.
We live in a time of eclecticism and so this ‘voice’ will manifest itself in many forms. I am certain that the language of it will be tenable because creatives, by our nature, feel these things deeply. Deep enough to feel a shift in our orientation. Enough to give purpose to what we do.
These will be interesting times indeed. Look to see how the change is made manifest in the many visual representations that you’ll see in the weeks and years to come.
Personally I feel that now is the time to find the silver lining in the outcome of the ‘Leave’ majority. The dye has been cast and we must be careful to mould this new reality with the values of love and respect for all mankind. We owe it to our children, we owe it to the planet. Let’s stand Proudly British and as Friends of the World.
Watch this space; the only thing that is certain is that change is afoot and designers by their very nature will absorb the atmosphere and reflect it back to us.