February 13, 2018 / Visual

Romanticism’s Revival

Romanticism's Revival

The French poet, Charles Charles Pierre Baudelaire attests that “romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling.”

The Tate describes the movement as defined by a new interest in ‘human psychology, expression of personal feeling and interest in the natural world’.

The institution goes on to explain how William Blake explored new ways of looking at human history and man’s relationship to the cosmos.

Last year, Stephen Fry’s Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece was just one example of a title that explored mythology in order to understand the world. Titles such as Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow parallels the aforementioned idea regarding new ways of looking at human history. In a new human agenda, he contemplates the thought paradox.

Interestingly, at the heart of Romanticism lies the rejection of rationalism that stemmed from the Enlightenment period. And here we are. Amidst a fourth revolution, where technological process is prevalent, we find ourselves yet again in the world of wonder, returning to history in order to imagine how the future will look tomorrow.

As we reflect upon the revival of ‘the irrational’ in our post regarding surrealism and dreams, it is important to note that in the last year we have been documenting the rise of empathy in retail. By 2020, the WEF predicts that emotive intelligence will be the sixth most desired skill in the workplace. Creativity will be the third most desired. Making the case for intuitive and imaginative thinking, it’s important to note that in 2016, over a million books where sold in Britain. Last year, The Guardian documented that the insta-poet Rupi Kaur is ‘now the coolest thing’.

As we find ourselves in 2018, a year of wonderment and imaginative thinking:

‘Feeling’ spaces are the future. Intuition rules the roost, curiosity connects and empathetically driven design resonates.

Consequently, brands design should embrace romantic principles. Store design should play to poetry and explore rhythmic structures through fluid and curved design. A key example of this is our work for Bucherer in Selfridges’ Wonder Room, where a poem is projected within the space.

As we explore the revival of romanticism further, it is interesting to note that a year from now will mark the 200th anniversary of the birthday of renowned romantic art critic, John Ruskin. Within his work, he expressed importance on artists maintaining truth to nature.

Drawing comparison to this conceptual thinking, last week Claire Takacs’s title Dreamscapes: Inspiration and Beauty in Gardens Near and Far was published. The timeliness of this is publication draws upon the significance of wonder and the natural world that was at the heart of Romanticism.

Whilst there are many similarities between today and the romantic period, we should consider the differences.

The 18th century movement explored the significance of the individual.

Contra this, Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow makes the prediction that ‘in the twenty-first century humankind is likely to aim for immortality, bliss and divinity’. Yet he goes on to explain that this is ‘not what most individuals will do in the twenty-first century. It is what humankind, as a collective will do’.

The future will see collectivism takes dominance over individualism. 

We can see a correlation to this notion in our post exploring Why The New Self Is The Unself. Welcome To Brand Transcendence.

Conclusively, romantic inspired design is a way to engage with consumers in an increasingly empathetic world. Brands must use platforms to inspire ego-less, altruism and emotive led design. Authored by culture, music, poetry, art and nature, these narratives can be achieved.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider how romanticism can inspire to spaces that are human-centric, intuitive and empathetically driven.
  • Look to thematic romantic principles such as nature and the arts to inspire retail design that sparks curiosity and wonder.

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