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Heritage maximalism’s reign has begun

Bye bye to blanding and welcome to heritage maximalism: a new style of design that draws on luxury cues from art history to signal wealth and classical beauty. We examine why it’s rising to the fore in an age of anxiety and austerity

Blanding is ‘dead’ according to the internet — long live heritage maximalism. Whether we pin it to a greater anxiety about the economy, hitch it to hit show Succession’s Machiavellian money-grabbers, or a collective distaste for sans serif, there are signs that our branding vernacular is having a renaissance of sorts. And we don’t necessarily mean the old maxim more-is-more, these brands embrace nuance in their design to show how more detail can add more value.

When Burberry’s new logo dropped earlier this year, Joseph Alessio, partner and creative director at Stuuudio, was relieved (along with thousands of other designers). The luxury label’s rebrand was ushering in a new era: it paired contemporary photography with a serif font typeface and reintroduced a 122-year-old motif Equestrian Knight Design bearing a flag titled ‘Prorsum’ – Latin for ‘forwards’. “The tasteful resurrection of their century-old logo allowed them to ride the wave of a growing backlash to homogeneity,” Alessio notes.

If our current cultural inflection is anything to go by, we want opulence and ornate beauty which is luxurious and classically unobtainable. A far cry from explicit logos and glossy Kardashian consumerist culture, we’ve found a new inspiration in TV dramas focusing on the rich. Succession, which came to a close this week, heralded a ‘quiet luxury’, which in fashion means a focus on quality and craftsmanship, but its set design and mood was staged through Renaissance and Baroque artworks, including Peter Paul Rubens’s Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt (1616).