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Kitsch: what it is, who does it best and how to make it work for you

Kitsch: what it is, who does it best and how to make it work for you


While nobody can pin down the origin of the word ‘kitsch’, we all know what it means - from Walt Disney’s Bambi through to kittens in teacups, kitsch has become synonymous with a certain sentimental charm and a degree of universal appeal that makes it both irresistible and faintly embarrassing.

Kitsch decor is something else completely - it combines humour, a lack of convention and a degree of intentional display that makes it a focal point of much interior design, even if the designer themselves wouldn’t describe their work as kitsch.

Who’s good at kitsch decor?

The king of kitsch must be Jonathan Adler, who prefers to call his style ‘modern American glamour’. He began as a potter, moved into textiles and soon after was creating homewares, including furniture and lighting all with that ‘kitsch’ quirk that makes his products both entirely collectable and deliciously tongue-in-cheek.

Jonathan Adler kitsch interior

If Adler is the king, Philippe Starck is the rebel prince. His inventive and subversive approach to design overturns conventions and creates new sidelong glances at ‘classics’ that make the view think again about everyday objects. With a focus on ‘democratic design’ to get as many high-quality items into the hands of the greatest number of people, Starck’s work has become central to many kitsch interiors, from his own hotel designs through to student dorms.

Philippe Starck interior

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Making kitsch interiors work for you

It may seem odd to say ‘less is more’ when it comes to kitsch but three things must combine to make this look succeed:


  1. Surprising usages - Starck’s gun lamp is a perfect example. So keep your shoes in a filing cabinet, store your clothes in a fishing net or have a library in your bathroom!
  2. Stun with colour - vibrancy is central to kitsch so start with colour you can live with, our Kouamo cushions are a great place to begin building strong hues into your decor
  3. Eclectic choices - from kangaroos in spaceship ornaments to Frida Kahlo inspired kitchens, let your selections be ruled by your emotions rather than some ideal of design perfection.

Bring those three elements together and you’ll have a kitsch interior you can live with for a lifetime!