‘BUT WHAT’S WRONG WITH JOHN LEWIS?!’
Nothing, though the fact that you asked the question suggests your privilege may be showing…you might want to tuck it away.
There are those of us who (despite Carrie Symonds’ comments) never thought to question what might be wrong with John Lewis. Simply put, those of us on a budget would never ask.
You see, if you go to John Lewis for the feel good factor, to look, to sit on the sofas, to browse and to contemplate – then take out your phone to find cheaper alternatives on Ebay, you will KNOW that John Lewis is posh (not in the ‘Lulu Lytle is personally designing my home’ kind of way… but absolutely posh enough).
Symond’s is not one of us…
John Lewis sells a wide range of items, varying styles to suit almost all tastes. Which means Symonds’ comment was not just about the John Lewis store, it was about the high street and the accessibility of the high street to the everyman. In short, John Lewis is for the masses and therefore not good enough for her and Boris. The truth is, there appears to be a way of going about interior designing your home that signals your membership into a particular tribe. It’s not just about the style in which you design your home – whether you go for a pared back vibe or dark walls or maximalism – it is about the how and the where when it comes to selecting your furniture, paint and anything else for your home.
I have a few questions…
If I buy an item from Ebay that was initially purchased from Harrods – where do I sit in this strange hierarchy? What exactly is a posh home and why should I care if I have one or not? If I have a posh home, does that make me posh too? (I don’t think that’s how it works). This is not just about how much you spend either, I’ve seen crushed velvet quilted beds with diamante studs retailing at £5000+, but you won’t find these items on the pages of Living Etc. I think that when it comes to interior design, the idea of good and bad taste is tied up in how ‘posh’ you can be – both when shopping for your home and when replicating the latest from Elle Decoration.
Where do you fit in?
This has got me thinking about the the interiors industry and just how elitist it all is. Everything from brand positioning to media – particularly when it comes to interiors magazines.
I always thought there was an anonymity when it came to Interior design, a safe space for creativity that was unlike fashion as it didn’t have to involve putting your physical self under scrutiny – After all, I don’t have to be a size 10 to shop at Habitat. This has changed so much over the years and with the help of social media, homes AND homeowners are now showcased across our screens and magazine pages – now we want to know who lives in the homes we are lusting over – are they like us? Could we be them?
I am on two very popular interior design Facebook groups – they appear to be lovely communities, places where people come together to talk about the brands they care about and gain advice from others who love them too. Pictures are posted and very rarely are there negative comments when someone’s choice of sofa doesn’t reflect the current trends – it’s all very nice. That said, it feels very much like I am part of a little interiors club – one where we know how dark our walls should be, that Sulking Room Pink is a thing and that you really shouldn’t be knocking out those original features (even if you don’t like them very much). Those who don’t know don’t let on, or are simply drowned out by those who do. ‘Hague blue or Duck green for my front door ladies?’, ‘Oh, Duck Green with that brick work!’
This could be why Symonds’s comment has rattled so many – for those who shop in John Lewis, it has made them reconsider where they sit in the interior design hierarchy. If John Lewis isn’t posh, then what the hell is…?
For the rest of us it’s business a usual. See you on Ebay.