The Maximalists Are Coming

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The Maximalists Are Coming

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If you have read a design magazine or, really, ever been inside a house with a subscription to one, you will be familiar with the words: midcentury, modern, minimalist, Scandinavian. They have become stand-ins for good design, as the styles they loosely describe have endured and only become more popular over time. But not everyone dreams of a room with a tulip table and an Eames chair.

Ksenia Shestakovskaia, for one, finds it all unbearably boring. She was working as a textile designer in Berlin when she came to see that simplicity and marketability had overtaken creativity.

“I found at a certain point that things got so clean that they projected nothing,” Ms. Shestakovskaia, 39, said.

So she left her job and started spending time on eBay, browsing furniture listings and collecting images of her favorite pieces. Some may call it killing time; Ms. Shestakovskaia thinks of it as research.

Her findings first surfaced on her Instagram account, @decorhardcore, a stream of furnishings that could be described as ’80s glam meets ’90s kitsch meets grandma’s tchotchke cabinet. Amy Sedaris, Lena Dunham and Adam Selman count themselves among Ms. Shestakovskaia’s followers. Alessandro Michele, who invited her to help promote a line of Gucci watches earlier this year, is also an admirer.

Ms. Shestakovskaia isn’t alone in pushing back against the prevailing tidy aesthetics.

“We thought, everybody is posting the same kind of stuff on Instagram, like pictures of cappuccino, yoga, and it’s all perfect interiors that look super-Scandinavian,” said the Swiss designer Jonas Nyffenegger, 30.

As an antidote to their boredom, he and his friend Sébastien Mathys, 31, created Ugly Design, a collection of found images that form a counterargument to minimalism, as well as everything you might learn in graduate school. Their interests extend into fashion, and recent posts on Instagram include ripped jeans patched with raw-meat-printed fabric, and a toilet that also happens to be a giant high-heeled shoe.

Interactive Feature | ugly design 2

The account, Mr. Nyffenegger said, “started as a joke” between friends. “We were in Milan and we saw a bathtub that was designed into a sofa, and we could not stop laughing,” he recalled. “It was just too bad.”

Ms. Shestakovskaia disagrees with the idea that maximalism’s appeal comes from its inherent ugliness. “I struggle with ugly and horrendous and heinous,” she said, “but strange is really good.”

There is a market for their tastes. Ms. Shestakovskaia now runs Decor Hardcore as a media agency, offering art direction, set design and social media consulting for those seeking “extra” in the age of decluttering. She will publish “a coffee-table book with a lot of coffee tables in it” later this year. And she has a couple of more irons in the fire.

“Some big names want me to design their homes,” Ms. Shestakovskaia said, though she would not say who. “I don’t want to jinx it.”

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