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The Secret Meaning of Things

Taste, taste, taste’, the archi­tect Frank Lloyd Wright once remarked, cows have taste!’

Vir­tu­al­ly the entire his­to­ry of art has been the sub­ject of dis­putes about taste. But what is taste exact­ly? It is an elu­sive sub­ject, since it is both a mir­ror and a win­dow. The only cer­tain­ty is that it changes – some­times abrupt­ly. With the explo­sion of con­sumerism in the mid-nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, the Vic­to­ri­ans seized upon the notion of good taste’ as a way of cod­i­fy­ing mid­dle-class mores. A cen­tu­ry lat­er, to talk about taste had become almost taboo, since judge­ments made about dress and man­ners can be painful­ly reveal­ing. And today? In this book Stephen Bay­ley explores shift­ing atti­tudes towards art, archi­tec­ture, design, fash­ion, food and shop­ping and con­cludes that taste has more to do with man­ners than appear­ances; that good taste’ is both myth and real­i­ty; and that taste – good or bad – has noth­ing what­ev­er to do with style.

Stephen Bay­ley is an author, crit­ic, colum­nist, con­sul­tant, broad­cast­er, cura­tor and found­ing direc­tor of the influ­en­tial Design Muse­um in Lon­don. Sharp, wit­ty, and inci­sive, over the past thir­ty years his writ­ing has changed the way the world thinks about design.

I don’t know any­one with more inter­est­ing obser­va­tions about style, taste and con­tem­po­rary design.’
– Tom Wolfe on Stephen Bayley

Jean-Michel Dentand

21 × 16cm
8¼ × 6¼ in
90 colour and
b&w illustrations

£19.95 | $24.95

ISBN 978-1-911422-25-9