By FIGEN ÇAKIR
Why is Martha Stewart unpopular in Europe? A design blog run by an American living in Germany recently asked this question. The answer is very simple for me on a personal level, but the comments of others surprised me as people openly criticized each others’ culture.
Most commenters were irate at the assumption that American culture is expected to be rife in Europe.
With media coverage Stewart received in Europe focussed on her sentencing, the majority agreed that Europeans hardly embrace people with criminal records as celebrities.
These anti-Martha sentiments were echoed at a recent international design conference in South Africa — a nation colonised by North Europeans — complete with a backlash on Twitter about Stewart’s shallow, promotional presentation to a room of her peers.
At the design blog I shared how I consider the UK a bit plain for such a demanding brand as Martha Stewart. Due to the war-torn years, the UK managed to be frugal and this left a legacy of indifference to exaggerated styles, objects and people.
My humble opinion amused a German, whose opinion of the Brits differed. I also learned that Swedes are ‘sensitive to obvious branding’, which might explain the South African reaction, and felt refreshed by the comment of American Diana Brennan. She wrote “it would be lovely to live in a world where such a ‘brand’ doesn’t exist.”
In cultural conversation, whether about design or politics, crafting or the cult of personality, how do we make our point without insulting other cultures?
Interior designer Figen Çakır lives in Turkey with her husband and two children dividing her time between developing an online venue for creativity and fostering a love of Turkish fiber and traditional arts.