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The Secret Meaning of Things

Virtually the entire history of art, architecture and design has been the subject of disputes about taste, both good and bad. But what is taste? The only certainty is that it shifts and changes – sometimes abruptly. With the explosion of vulgar 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 judgments made about dress, manners, food and art can often be painfully revealing. And today? When this classic text was first published in 1991, Stephen Bayley illuminated the nuances and niceties of our mercurial understanding of taste. In this new edition, he ranges far and wide to bring us exquisitely up to date. 

Stephen Bayley is an author, critic, columnist, consultant, broadcaster, curator and founding director of the influential Design Museum in London. Over the past thirty years his writing has changed the way the world thinks about design. He is the author of Death Drive, one the most talked about books of 2016.

Praise for the first edition of Taste:

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

 ‘Stephen Bayley has nailed down the elusive word taste with wit, wisdom and a great deal of fascinating information.’
– Dominick Dunne

‘Taste emerges as a futile concept that every age, class, race and commercial enterprise has elevated or degraded, popularized or politicized for its own ends. Ghastly good taste gets it, so does High and Low and Camp and Pop. Social history at its sharpest.’
– John Richardson

Jean-Michel Dentand

21 x 16cm
8¼ × 6¼ in
Approx. 100 colour and
b&w illustrations

£29.95 | $40.00

ISBN 978-1-911422-06-8