Books like Terence Conran’s Easy Living are all about envy -- beautiful pictures of elegant living rooms, luxurious bedrooms and sumptuous kitchens surrounded by text extolling the virtues of space, light and natural fibers. There are paragraphs detailing Conran’s experience bathing in a hotel in the Italian resort of Positano or enjoying a meal on a beach in the south of France.
They’re marketed as decorating books, but they give little practical advice. All they really do is make you sigh. And want to punch Conran in the nose for having it so good.
Still, Easy Living is lovely to regard. There are closeups of curvaceous vases and lovingly arranged still-life photos of furniture. There are shots of loft bedrooms that make you wish you were a bohemian artist and shots of deep bathtubs where you can imagine losing yourself for hours. Everything is clean and crisp, and it appears that every room featured in the book is overlooking a body of water in a place where it is eternally summer.
Conran’s prose, with its perfunctory nods to techniques like feng shui, exists in an equally unreal world, where cost is no object and people use phrases like “in my house in the country,” as if everyone had such a thing. It’s pure snobbery all right, but, gosh, the pictures are pretty. And, for a brief second, I caught myself thinking “I could live in a place like that.” Then I saw my pile of stuffed animals in the corner and realized that Conran and I live in totally different worlds.
For those planning to redecorate, Easy Living is better as inspiration than actual design aid, but it will look great on your coffee table. Imagine – a book about design that is itself best used as a decoration.