HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

“TO:  The Supreme Pontiff Julius II            

FROM:  M. Buonarroti, artist
RE:  Interior Decorating
Most Holy Father,
It grieves me that your Holiness is unhappy with the progress on the Sistine Chapel. Admittedly, it’s taken a little time and we’re into a slight cost overrun, but Your Holiness must admit this isn’t something that can be done with a numbered kit. It’s hard on the neck, too. And, while you don’t do the shopping, You must know the price of fresco colors is out of sight!
A couple more years should do it.
Your obedient servant,
Michelangelo
P.S. I beg to point out to Your Holiness that there is nothing in the contract about scraping the sash in the Vatican Refectory. As I’ve said before, I don’t do windows.”
From an ancient account in Rome’s Vatican Library. Date has been effaced, but is believed to be circa AD 1510

Yes, you read correctly. This excerpt was written by that Michelangelo, the one of Sistine ceiling fame.

Yet, it could just as easily have been written yesterday.

When I first heard this quote, it was being read aloud before a room full of interior designers.

You can be sure it got a good laugh.

However, I think just about anyone can relate to Michelangelo’s words. For example, if you’ve ever taken on a project that ran into cost overruns, or was not completed on time, this letter will sound painfully familiar.

Or, perhaps there was a clause in your job description where you wanted to say:  ‘Sorry, but I don’t do windows’– or whatever the forbidden task might have been.

For myself, I’m often amazed by the fact that history indeed repeats itself.

What might seem unique in these modern times has often been done before. Sometimes, it’s even been done better.

When it comes to home design, and furnishings in particular, you can be sure that many ideas that appear to be new, are in fact, old.

I was first made aware of this trend back when I was in Design school. In fact, for one class project we had to collect clippings from contemporary magazines that reflected centuries old designs.

Take the Klismos chair, for instance.

The shape and design actually harkens back to ancient Greece. Yet, you can find the same look in almost any furniture showroom.

And the idea of white rooms and white ceilings?

Look no further than 18th century France. In a time where home interiors relied on candles, or kerosene, for lighting, interior rooms were very dark. Think wood paneling, and very, very small window panes.

Large panes of glass – what we take for granted today – did not exist. Homes and businesses were very dark, indeed!

Makes me appreciate living in the 21st century!