Name This Aesthetic
October 16, 2009 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Is there a name or term for the aesthetic these blogs contain?

I've realized that there is a definite theme and aesthetic quality in a lot of the blogs I read. But when trying to relate this to a friend yesterday, I realized I can't seem to figure out what it is or even quite how to describe it.

It bothers me even more because this aesthetic is very similar to things I('d like to) wear, things I collect, how I decorate areas in my room, etc, which is likely why I read them in the first place.

It's not just the vintage stuff, but that is a large part. There's a lot of overlap between them in modern things as well, and I think this combination of the two is rather important.

So what's the name for this aesthetic, and how can I describe/define it? And as a side question, are there blogs/resources where I can find more of the same?

The blogs are as follows:
A Continuous Lean
The Material Review (a tumblr blog by the same guy who does A Continuous Lean)
A Time to Get
Cold Splinters
Secret Forts
Yimmys Yayo (Consider this one NSFW, for the most part. All photos, and a higher concentration of nudity as of late. But the aesthetic is still there though, perhaps to a lesser extent than those linked above)
posted by CitrusFreak12 to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Are you talking about the content of the blogs or the layout/style of them separately from what's in the individual posts?
posted by brainmouse at 11:31 AM on October 16, 2009

Response by poster: The content.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:46 AM on October 16, 2009

My friends and I called this gruff, masculine, slightly old-fashioned outdoorsiness "Fencepost." Feel free to use it. No charge.
posted by reverend cuttle at 11:50 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

elan (distinctive and stylish elegance)?
posted by eatdonuts at 11:52 AM on October 16, 2009

I don't think there is one commonly accepted name for this style - I have a friend who calls it Modern Hemingway, and another who calls it Rustic Modern, both of which are terms they made up because they were having trouble explaining it to other people, or explaining what they were looking for to shopkeepers. I've always thought there was a northeastern rocky shore vibe to the style, myself, but they shied away from it because they get directed to New England Cape Cod/Nautical style things when they mention that. They both chose the word modern to make sure they didn't get either ducks and checks country or the more colorful island elements. It connotes that cleanness of the items, even if they are 100 or 80 years old (i.e. vintage bottles with their labels).
posted by julen at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is this helpful? "Haute Americana"
posted by girlpublisher at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I feel you. I don't know the name but the blogs you listed are pretty much my aesthetic too. I also follow these, which you may like as well:

Reference Library
An Ambitious Project Collapsing
Hollister Hovey
posted by iconomy at 12:31 PM on October 16, 2009

Back in July, the New York Times did a piece on this. They called it New Antiquarian, or New Vintage.
posted by Work to Live at 1:02 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's the exact spot in the universe where J.Crew and Anthropologie intersect.

No, I have no idea, but I think I'm probably into the girlie version of it.

It's, I think, a mix of Scandinavian (clogs, lots of brightly colored bulbs, mid-century modern furnishings), English (Liberty prints, apothecaries) and Scot (fair isle knits), Pacific NW (flannel shirts, beards), French (grey and mushroom linens, ticking, paint-worn furnishings, Japan is doing a particularly good job of adopting this look), American NE (navy, white, other nautical elements, early american furnishings), mixed with a whole lot of farmhouse and gentleman farmer (tweedy, brogues, gingham, the movie Babe is my aesthetic dreams come true). The modern elements are the mid-century, simple silhouette additions like parsons tables or desks, usually more modern lighting sources though other clean more vintage lighting like schoolhouse keep things clean and modern feeling, hidden-bracket wall-mounted shelving creates clean lines on which to display your collection of old clocks, radios, bunches of flowers, and cute forrest creatures.

Oh, and I also think its modernness is typified by its reverence for classics and icons: Modernist typefaces, pea coats, brogues, Frye boots, Hunter rain boots, Chuck Taylors, Jack Purcells, slip-on Vans, all the iconic modernist chairs, natural and undyed fibers.

Since my personal version errs heavily on the farmhouse side, I just call it that.

And if I had to guess I'd guess this trend is a backlash against throw-away culture.
posted by birdie birdington at 1:44 PM on October 16, 2009 [7 favorites]

Interesting question! Though less because of the challenge of finding a label, and more because defining a preferred aesthetic is the lifelong task of the artist. It is part of the quest of individuation and establishing a world view. At the same time, understanding an aesthetic better helps you to push it towards its apotheosis, and perhaps genuine originality.

That said, 'New Antiquarian' doesn't sound too far off the mark, since there's definitely a nostalgic element in the content you link to. Though perhaps it would be more effective to locate this aesthetic on a few general dimensions, of which nostalgia-neophilia would be one.

Others dimensions could include ordered-messy; realist-fantasist; natural-artificial; ephemeral-eternal; energetic-muted; detailed-bold and so on. I would say this style is rather on the ordered side of things, though naturalistic. This kind of thing is very much an attempt at personality analysis as well (from which I'm getting an impression of introversion), so you could try taking a personality test and see if this gives you any ideas.
posted by leibniz at 2:06 PM on October 16, 2009

I think the hallmark of this aesthetic is appreciation for what the iconic and defining things are in various categories, and embracing those things. Making your wardrobe and your possessions and your decor look like you've been searching, collecting, slowly amassing with a discriminating eye for design, beauty, value, sentimentality, and a fondness for the past. Again, I don't have a name for the look but that captures the essence of it for me.
posted by iconomy at 5:25 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

This book has some interesting things to say about what iconomy and birdie birdington have just summed up. The last chapter counterposes the Encyclopedia of Bad Taste and the book Quintessence, the latter hovering around this kind of 'reverence for classics and icons.'
posted by umbĂș at 8:53 PM on October 16, 2009

I think "Fencepost" is brilliant.
posted by jayder at 9:18 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These answers are all awesome.

Blogs added, iconomy.

Work to Live, oh my goodness, I cannot thank you enough for that article. When I first walked into The Adventurers Club in Disney World I nearly wept.

It's so nice to know I am not the only one afflicted, and I hope to hear from more of you.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:33 PM on October 16, 2009

I guess it's a matter of perspective, but I've always seen this stuff as part of the "back when everybody was white" mythology.
posted by anildash at 7:34 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

birdie birdington - you sound like a Cath Kidston/Orla Kiely sort of girl. I think I'm into the girlie version too - quirky, vintage not retro, home-made and helvetica.

To me - a Brit - it's like a very macho, very New Yorker sort of Americana. Sort of like a less gothy, more branded steampunk.
posted by mippy at 7:18 AM on October 19, 2009

I always think of a term I've always associated with older, upper east side ladies explaining their decorating strategy: "a few good pieces." But the word that sticks out when I hear/read these bloggers or designers talk is Authenticity.

In a crankier moment, after reading the NY Observer article on Trad, I did a side by side comparison of this authenticity language with the NYC drag queens' pursuit of "Realness" in their Harlem drag ball competitions, as depicted in Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary, Paris is Burning.

the degrees of self-awareness vary, but basically, it's all striking a pose.
posted by gregorg at 4:32 AM on October 20, 2009

I call it Amekaji, from the Japanese portmaneau/loanword from 'american casual'. There's something Japanese about the rigor of the obsession with Americana among these dudes. It's like something out of a William Gibson novel, and consequently, it must be named with an English borrowing of a Japanese borrowing of English.
posted by jeb at 9:06 AM on October 20, 2009

Prep -- that's not the whole aesthetic, but I think it's a thread shared by a lot of that stuff. Check this out.
posted by grobstein at 10:39 PM on November 3, 2009

Response by poster: Just for posterity, another site has been added to the list.
Put This On
It was posted on The Blue and sure enough, it fits in with all the rest.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:26 AM on November 21, 2009

This is generally known as Americana.
posted by YoungAmerican at 10:32 PM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: It's getting more mainstream.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:03 PM on September 25, 2010

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