The History of Eclectic Design

Our well-loved lifestyle, Urbanology, is widely described as “eclectic”, meaning that the design is derived from many styles and tastes – A look that doesn’t fit into any traditional molds. Where does this style come from?

The first use of the word “eclectic” can be traced back to the 18th century when German art historian and archaeologist Johan Joachim Winckelmann used it to describe the work of Annibale Carracci. The 17th century artist borrowed diverse styles, ideas and theories relevant throughout different periods of history and combined them within a single work of art to create his own unique style. Eclecticism is found in many artforms; from paintings, to architecture, to interior designs. All of these follow the same general idea: Connecting different styles throughout history into one cohesive look.

How does this transfer to interior design? Eclectic design surfaced in the 20th century and is a rejection of rules and canon within the design sphere. This style is set in the direction of freedom of expression by combining what is most beautiful, comfortable, and interesting through existing styles. By utilizing a neutral color palette, multiple different styles can fit perfectly and harmoniously in a space. Designers looking to create an “eclectic” look will focus on layering textures, time periods, and trends, making sure that all elements come together to create a unified look and feel.

Because the eclectic style doesn’t really fit into any traditional design molds, this also means that it can be interpreted in many ways, and can evoke different emotions, and feelings within a space. This makes the eclectic look great or a variety of tastes and locations. From a rural farmhouse to a mod downtown loft. An eclectic room can be feminine or masculine, rustic or polished, monochromatic or colorful. The possibilities are endless!

How can I replicate this style at home? Start with a neutral palette, which will act as a blank canvas to introduce your various styles into. While compiling pieces to add to the room, look for pieces that complement each other either in size, shape, pattern, or color. If you do have a certain piece that stands out, let it! Use it as a focal point of the room, don’t attempt to blend it in. Another awesome way to achieve the eclectic look is through the layering of textures. Take a big chunky throw and pair it with some suede textured pillows. Add highly textured picture frames to your walls, and throw in a very smooth, mid-century coffee table.

Do whatever suits your personal taste, and don’t be afraid to experiment with placement and styles. The biggest takeaway from this style: Have Fun!