The Tyranny of Terrazzo

All that pink. All those plants. All that white. It’s so clean! Everything’s fun, but not too much fun. And there, in the round mirror above the couch: It’s you. You know where you are. Or do you?

Ever since modernism brought industry into design, tastes have cycled between embracing and rejecting what it wrought. A forward-looking, high-tech style obsessed with mass commercial appeal will give way to one that’s backward-looking, handmade, authenticity-obsessed — which will then give way to some new variation on tech-forward mass style. (Furniture dealers joke that “brown” goes in and out with every generation.) It’s a logic that gets filtered through the reliable desire for the world the way it looked when we were young, and lately this has meant looking back 30 or so years to the Memphis-inflected pastel pop of the ’80s and ’90s.

We might call the latest iteration of the cycle the “millennial aesthetic” — not to say that it was embraced by all millennials, just that it came to prominence alongside them and will one day be a recognizable artifact of their era.