Earlier today, someone told me that “playful” is opposite of “classic” when it comes to design. It was said that something can’t be playful and classic. Any thoughts?

What’s that person’s definition of classic and playful? Both of those can be interpreted differently.
On object level, a Beetle, it’s a classic, but some might feel that its form is rather playful. Memphis movement to me is pretty much classic at this point, but it’s based on playfulness.

If the person feels, classic implies refined…In Memphis case, it appears immature, but as a school of thought it was refined.

If I had to find an opposite for classic as a form/aesthetic descriptor I’d use “fad” or “kitsch” or “post-modernist” depending on what I was trying to communicate.

I would consider this Eames Coat Rack to be both classic and playful.

Graves Tea Kettle for Alessi

George Nelson Ball Clock

'nuff said

I think classic and playful is possible, just more difficult…

wait! Does he mean


mini cooper?

i dont think playful and classic are really opposite.

to go further though, you’d really have to focus on what product area you are looking at. toys is one thing, and weapons is another :wink:

opposite of playful i’d say is serious, stark, dangerous or menacing.

opposite of classic is fresh, different, new, futuristic, or strange, possibly related to a context of pop culture, humor or social aspects.


“Someone” obviously doesn’t know what they are talking about. A clueless marketing person perhaps? Either way it is quite the embarrassing statement. Give this person a dictionary for their next birthday.

clas·sic [adjective]:

• judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.
• (of a garment or design) of a simple and elegant style not greatly subject to changes in fashion.
• remarkably and instructively typical

play·ful [adjective]:

• full of play or fun, sportive, frolicsome
• pleasantly humorous or jesting
• giving or expressing pleasure or amusement

Does the Eames Hang-it-all fit these descriptions? Yes it does. Classic is not something that can be done in a instant. Classic is something that an object becomes over time. I love it when I have to correct people’s use of language… in my 2nd language.

That person that told you that is probably one of those people that have that “lofty ID talk” as if they are kings/queens of the world and have immaculate never ending knowledge of design and literature.

I’m so sick of those people. Less is more, get to the point, stop over analyzing, and just look at the damn thing.

It either looks good or doesn’t. It serves a purpose or it’s land fill.

Burgeoisie Pig!

No news flash here but put me in the “bugeoisie pig” pile (sti?).

It’s bourgeoisie.


And you’re one of those people I’m talking about. :wink: They misspell most of their lofty words n such. Silliness. :unamused:

Ah, see. You are blinded by your ignorance. Its a post-modern modern expression of a post-Victorian term.

I bet you drink your latte with no foam.

i agree that classic is something that is determined over time.
classic objects also seem to be somehow iconic and/or represent a period of time, or movement in design. so - in my opinion, objects/products can definitely be both playful and classic.

I actually love foam. In fact I slurp up the foam even from my root beer.

Foam is superb.

And there can be more than one meaning for a word.

Can’t be right all of the time. :wink:

Might be cause I am a student, but I couldn’t agree more. People just talk and talk and talk when all they need is probably the first sentence and I have a clear understanding of what they are trying to say. Some subjects (design is often one) are subtle and nuianced and need careful explaination, but many do not. I love getting critiques/advice/motivation etc, but a pretty smart fellow once said brevity is the soul of wit.