March 13, 2019

The State of Design

The word is out, and it says that styled worked is dead. Couples aren’t responding on social to the once ever-popular styled shoots. For those that aren’t familiar with this term, it’s merely a design created to inspire those who see it for ideas in their wedding. Think Restoration Hardware catalogs or a staged home for sale. Dresses, locations, florals, tablescapes, paper goods, jewelry and color palettes are all pieces that drive the concepts of a styled shoot. These collaborations were once the driving force for publications and have recently been earmarked as irrelevant. With the trends of society today, print has taken an enormous lump in circulation and editors are intensely combing over the analytics and responding to what receives the most engagement. Make sense, but in doing so, they have stifled concepts driven collabs as a thing of the past. As a creative I think we ought to rethink the way we design and publish our work before sending a once wildly inspiring form of voice out to pasture.

In my downtime, I enjoy reading and digesting art. Whether it’s a book on economics or a retrospective on a designer I use everything I learn to piece together my own life and work. Recently I began reading the retrospective of Alexandar McQueen – arguably one of the greatest fashion designers of our time. At his core he questioned everything; the runway was a place for him to breath his creative breath. He challenged norms; he shocked the senses and approached the human body as a canvas without limits. He created from deep within his soul. His designs were the voice of his madding spirit. The constant question of “why” haunted him on so many levels it provoked his collections to leave guest in awe and shock. He was once quoted in saying “that he prefers after his show people vomit rather than having cocktails.” He like many other great artists have an internal need to create and free their spirits and minds from the regulations of culture. The idea of art is the exploration of energy. Art questions everything and pushes the boundaries, its everything, and nothing at the same time. But before I go off the literal “deep” end, I want to talk about the state of design within the wedding industry and specifically concept drive work.

I want to make clear that this is an opinion piece, merely how I feel about the state of design. I agree print has become less relevant, being published isn’t connecting us with couples like it once did. Everyone is published today, everyone can post, and very few people buy print. Several years ago top publications would have a mix of real weddings and styled work to inspire and credit those producing great work. Today those same wedding platforms won’t run styled shoots because they have found the market to reject it. Why is the market rejecting it?

I think it’s two-fold, lack of creativity and relevance. When creatives get together to collaborate it should be under the common thread of being, doing and creating outside of the norms. If they don’t then it becomes irrelevant because who wants to see the same concepts over and over. I think it’s our duty as creatives to push everything toward sublime creation — a place without limit. Abstaining from the concept collabs with other creatives because editors say it’s not relevant should be a wakeup call to everyone that we are producing shit for inspiration. Most of us don’t have the luxury of waiting for the “cool-girl” client that will inevitably be published in Vogue. She appreciates avant-garde artists and loves being the original along with the budget to do so. Most of us today are waiting around for couples that pay us to design or create for them based off of your current portfolio. Let me share a little secret; what is in your portfolio has already been done! So don’t complain when you have clients that want a specific color palette and floral arrangement. Most brides can only window shop by saying I like this or that. They can’t design or inspire wildly creative works – that’s our job!

So if concept collaboratives aren’t for editors who are they for? YOU! Take ownership in what you’re producing and the direction of your work. Be inspiring, be bold, be different and challenge norms. Be creative, have fun and go big – then you can show your incoming clients your spirit, what inspires you and your zeal to be excellent in what you’re doing. Be more like a fashion designer, they create collections every season and then unveil it to the world, they don’t design one collection then sit back and hope a client will let them create something new. Publish your work on social – put creative equity in your brand and let the others wait around for a handout. Yes, you might not have 800k followers and giving a million people the chance to see your work is excellent but if it’s been done before it doesn’t matter – that’s why it doesn’t get published. People have lost interest in styled shoots because of the subconscious idea that they are fake. Think about it. I’ll give you a second…

If platforms title weddings as “Real” what does that imply for styled work? No one especially Gen Z wants a fake. They want real, they want one-of-a-kind, and they want it to be exclusive. We as artist need to rethink our portfolios and regroup as creatives to rejuvenate what couples are seeing. Stop making excuses about your brand and stop complaining about the cost of collabs, it’s marketing! Yes, it’s the cost of business. Our collabs can be real. They can be fantastic one-of-a-kind concepts that haven’t been seen before. We can insert real couples with real stories into the fabric of what we create. We can push norms and break the rules just like McQueen, but we can’t do it by ourselves we must connect and believe that what we are creating together isn’t for likes, comments or money – it’s for our souls and spirits. If you agree and want to chat concepts send me an email I would love to hear from you.