As we prepare for our warm-up project in Upcycling, the aesthetic that first comes to mind is “Shabby Chic”. The popularity of Shabby Chic is evident by the vast number of articles and images featuring it. It’s also a mainstay in artisan marketplaces like Etsy.com, where creative hopefuls go to try their hand in e-commerce.
So what is Shabby Chic? And why is it so popular?
You know it when you see it. That telltale sign of an old beat-up piece of furniture repainted and given a new lease on life. It differs from vintage or antique in that the objects are usually altered to fit an overall interior design theme. For example, an ornate antique mirror frame spray painted pink to fit into a a baby room.
The term Shabby Chic was coined in the 1980’s by The World of Interiors magazine (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabby_chic). It has since grown into an important product category for many design oriented companies. One of the big players in Shabby Chic is Rachel Ashwell, who has her own product line available through Target, and even her own line of Shabby Chic brand paint. (shabbychic.com)
Shabby Chic is influenced by a number of different styles, which makes it very pliable for anyone trying to pull together a room interior. Appreciation for cozy cottage furniture, vintage quality and details often forgone in today’s products – are all elements driving this design movement. Unlike some aesthetics that are priced out of range for average folk, Shabby Chic is obtainable by anyone with the desire to thoughtfully re-purpose products. With so many creative people on tight budgets, perhaps economics is the biggest driver of all.
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Jason, thank you. I am now inspired to build that barn door we chatted about. Now all I need are some pallets, paint, pulley . . . I think it may be too big to bring to class though.
Shabby Chic is a trademark owned by Rachel Ashwell, but the term did not originate from her, therefore it is not copyrighted. So the term can be used freely, but not to describe a brand of goods. Apparently there have been some lawsuits, but it’s still used all over the place. Below is an Etsy forum on the topic. Also a short video from the US Patent & Trademark Office:
Nice job presenting context! So, is ‘Shabby Chic’ trademarked, or can the term be used freely?