Check out the A&B portal!

What counts?

07 of August '23

The column is from A&B issue 6|23

The worst legal pornography: new interiors. On par with food porn and pictures of cute cats. At the sight of interiors from under the needle on designer portals, people are up to their eyeballs to scarf up likes, or write: „wonderful!”, „wow”, „great”. Zero shame, the brakes burn.

You can show online and in the press houses, buildings, public spaces and whatever else architects in their kindness offer the world, but interiors you won't top. Apartments, stores and pubs in distorted photos bring servers to a boil. The more addicted probably lick their monitors or the thick chalk of lifestyle magazines at the sight of yet another arrangement in millions of shades of graphite. Deserted, tidy, thoughtfully designed from A to Ziet. Houses and apartments indistinguishable from hotels or bars, without even a single piece of furniture from grandma or a flea market. Watered down with tongue-in-cheek descriptions of icing and vaseline, where the phrase „design inspired by this or that” occurs almost as often as a comma. In the media's description of the new interiors, there is no room for objections. Fatal acoustics? Questionable functionality? Excess of form over substance? From there, it's the pretty pictures or visuals that count.

Of course, not every interior leads to orgasm, lest we accidentally kick the bucket out of delight. Design and architecture portals also throw attractive-looking quirks into the feed, invent long-invented interior innovations, exude houses of a hundred micro-wallets. So that the critics are not specialists, but readers. So that it boils in the comments, and the coverage pierces the ceiling. There are disputes on the web about some of the apartments or pubs being promoted, as fierce and important as the brawl recently fueled by the media over mayonnaise. Kielecki or Winiary? Marble or Corian?

Strange? Not really. Some people are already in rather tenuous contact with what outside Krakow is called a manor, and in Krakow—a field. They live inside, or rather—in the middle. They teleport to work by car from their apartment, through garages; in their leisure time they fund further transfers: into the avenues of the mall or to run—in the gym, sometimes to a restaurant or cinema. Also through garages. And through traffic jams. Sometimes, only when it's impossible otherwise, they are sucked out of car pods into the vacuum of the street, only to catch oxygen two minutes later in the next interior.

All in all, nothing new, although the external circumstances seem to have changed. One hundred and seventy years ago in France, „the living space was symbolically divided into the apartment-family-safety and the street-stranger-anger,” as reported in the fourth volume of the collective and magnificent work „The History of Private Life.” Hence the nineteenth-century craze for bourgeois decorating what's inside and, until Haussmann, the aversion to the street as such. The era of overdecorated interiors, drapery, trinkets, plush and other dusty things, anything that cut off the gutter, the plebs and potential riots, was only somewhat declamated by the safe boulevards from the profligate baron. After that, it went on its own.

Today, the French—as evidenced by their apartments and pubs—approach interiors without uptight buttocks. Bars have been in the same style for years, restaurants are far from designer hopsiups. The glaze isn't tapped every decade, the smoke of Gauloises kicked up during de Gaulle's time still wafts from the paneling. In our gastronomy—different. Here—according to the function—there is a continuous transformation of matter. Find me at least a dozen interiors decorated as they were a few decades ago. Let's skip the communist era, because everything from trash to outstanding things flew from that collection to the trash heap. Every few or so years our pubs line up and expose a new skin. A Czech inn and a British pub are digs next to them. Our gastro doesn't even have time to age into oblivion, to then, without much change, go back into circulation as retro fashion. But that's probably a good thing: interior architects have another hit in their portfolios and butter for the kids' bread, which can't be earned much in this country with more serious architecture.

With apartments, it's similar, but here we have several trends. For the fast-moving matter, for all those folder-like ni hotels, ni pubs, ni apartments, more status symbols than dwellings, the background is the still-life of the premises with furniture, wallpaper, pavilion and PRL-transformation gallantry. To be viewed on real estate portals.

There are also quite a few contemporary interiors, on the loose, with color and a slight flare, decorated gradually, with or without the cooperation of an architect, but such pleasant views are not likely to be found on interior pornography sites. And there are quite a few of these sites. Google the phrase „interior porn design.” The effects are plentiful, unlike „exterior porn design,” which the search engine spits out only once.

We don't have much heart for the outdoors, even if lately a little more Poles are walking the streets and parks or getting on public transportation, which, to the surprise of cured autoholics, is not a barn on wheels. We have as many studios making good communal spaces as two, top three cats. Decision makers who are aware of what these spaces should be—also on the scale of cat sobs.

Yes, progress is being made, there is light at the end of the tunnel, some squares, streets and promenades are beginning to look and function as they should, some are even the subject of childish disputes and wars, but the Haussmann-Gehler revolution is probably still to come. And that too, provided that compatriots remember what legs are for, and that even if they were to go out on the town not to live normally, but to expose their status. Because the aspirational, let's call it, middle class (from rich youngsters to former hipsters to aging beneficiaries of the transformation), often doesn't so much dress up in our country as dress up, expose themselves, promote themselves, but they are unlikely to have cafe discussions about science or culture. Too polished, too branded, in general—one hundred and ten percent. Just like the suites and bars she licks and licks. Apparently, that's how she understood the maxim that it's the interior that matters most.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast