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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