Art and Design Society


Liked Notes on “Taste” — (

I also believe taste is something we can and should try to cultivate. Not because taste itself is a virtue, per se, but because I’ve found a taste-filled life to be a richer one. To pursue it is to appreciate ourselves, each other, and the stuff we’re surrounded by a whole lot more.

I feel like there are two types of taste: generic societally approved “good taste” and a person’s unique, cultivated sense of personal taste. For example, I find “tasteful” home design to often be boring. Give me tacky instead. Instead of immaculate marble-clad minimalist interiors, show me cluttered maximalist ones filled with personality. Art too, give me the lowbrow, the outsider works following their own taste rather than the elite’s.

But I do put tasteful above thoughtless — it is usually aesthetically inoffensive at the least, whereas a hodgepodge can be straight up ugly. Anything done with intentionality reflects some form of taste.

Though taste may appear effortless, you can’t have taste by mistake. It requires intention, focus, and care. Taste is a commitment to a state of attention.

Taste requires originality. It invokes an aspirational authenticity.

Moreover, it requires care: to believe it worthwhile to hold, and spend the time to develop, taste about something.

I would say that taste is the sensibility, and snobbery is one way to express the sensibility.

Snobbery is where “societal good taste” brings in class judgments: aesthetic preferences associated with what the upper class can afford, often claimed without evidence to be morally superior as well. Think white bread versus whole wheat, kale versus salad, fresh versus frozen.  This is where I am working on catching my own biases, especially around food. This kind of taste is performative and self-righteous.


By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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