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As 2017 has come to an end, lets look at what the coming times will have to offer in terms of interior design trends. My two cents – what better time than now to crave for security, warmth, healing, a recollection of the familiar and intimate; the world today predominantly plagued by global health, food and financial crisis, embarked onto the road to recovery nonetheless. An ever progressing world with increasing demand and insufficient supply; enveloped by civil wars and outrage nonetheless; and global warming and climatic change sparing no one. The interiors industry will thereby most certainly be marked by a Blast from the Past combining the old with an eclectic fusion of the following, to say the least:
- Sustainable/Green Technologies – to minimize environmental footprint,
- 3D Printing,
- Relaxed Maximalism,
- Health/Well-being inducing interiors (chemical free chalk paints), and living smart,
- Ethnic/Multicultural/Travel – inspired themes,
- the Bespoke/Handcrafted/Artisanal – the rare/crafty/exclusive/unique rather than ‘brands’ per se,
- Bringing Nature Indoors, and
- Positively Bold Colours and the closest parallel with Fashion in a long time.
As the old adage goes, ‘What’s old is new again – this time with a 21st Century spin!!!’ Below is my humble attempt at identifying eight prominent trends likely to shape the future of interior design.
Let’s look at some of the classics on their way back:
Nostalgic recollection of the 70’s wall-to-wall carpets where not even the bathrooms were spared!!! Not to forget the fringes, frills and adorable tassels from the 80’s. All these can already be seen invading the interior design world with a fusion of areal rugs, fringes and geometric patterns:
Inspirations from the rebellious/retro 60’s era, symbolized by unconventional designs appealing to large swathes of people who wanted to appear young and hip dotted with full scale coverage of floral and plaid patterned wall papers. Almost having lost their appeal in the 2000’s, 2017 saw a comeback of wallpaper trend, albeit in small doses like in a powder room or a bedroom accent/colour-blocked wall. The current and future design era is likely to be marked instead by a plethora of wallpaper; although most definitely in favour of more abstract and weathered geometric patterns (think the art deco era from the 1920’s), dramatic paisleys, and overscaled florals:
Cerused Wood (or Lime Wood) from the Art Deco Era during the second industrial revolution of the 1900’s is also staging a comeback!!! Funnily enough I mention this because currently we are living in a time of another industrial transformation, this time more digitalized and technology driven affecting the interior design industry more so than ever. While a derivative of white lead was used to give a white washed look to the oak grain in the 50’s, today due to environmental concerns technological advances have provided the ‘greener’ and more viable solution of using a speciality wax for the same. The tactile feel, depth and texture of cerused wood aligns it perfectly with the upcoming trends; invoking curious history and sentiments of nostalgic and rustic elegance. Furthermore, being greatly resistant to scratches, imperfections and wear, cerused wood is likely to be amongst the most preferred choices of materials not only for furniture but also cabinetry, flooring, walls and even ceilings in the years to come:
Another material having made a comeback is ‘Velvet’ – having orginated in the 13th century it gained prominence during the 19th century Victorian era. Although it was then an expression of extravagance/luxury, today it conveys a feeling of warmth and security.
This trend takes me back to my childhood years when even though people did look towards inspirations from nature for their interiors, they did not feel the need to indulge in ‘real’ plantations inside due to the presence of vast garden expanses and back yards outside; the 70’s-90’s where with all the environmental issues were at the forefront and there was a longing amongst the people to reconnect with their roots/nature and revert to simpler life. However, where all this mapped onto the introduction to nature with mellow earthy tones and subtle colours such as browns and golds, accompanied by wall-to-wall carpets and bucket loads of silk flowers and branches, mostly housed in macramé hangers, the future design era (marked by space constraints, excessively tech-centric lifestyles and apartment living culture on the rise) is most likely to be inclined towards an appreciation for real plants (especially considering the health benefits), and bringing nature in via coloured textures and patterns; exotic prints patterned with large-fronded ferns, big cats, crocodiles etcetera, intended for exotic escapism; and to do away with the low key mellow tones in favour of more bright and vibrant colours (please see section on colours later) substituting the neutrals as well. Alot of us design enthusiasts better know this innate emotional affinity for nature as biophilia. It is worth mentioning that this affinity towards nature is inspiring the design processes as well.
Nature inspired office spaces designed to provide refreshing and healthy work/respite spaces – sourced through a personal interview with Mr.Mike Kirk from Neumann Smith:
EMAD tradehouse project By Gilbert Grino (Personal Communication):
Think beautiful organic ceramics, jute rugs, wicker furniture, woven lampshades and linen table cloths:
Other choice of materials are bound to include the likes of deep and rich suede, boiled wool, real/faux leather hides, and cow/deer/water buffalo hide upholstery and rugs. Cork-Cladded walls,
besides merely being used for furniture, are gaining prominence and appeal particularly due to the warmth inducing texture, sound absorbing and anti-bacterial properties along with rising aesthetic appeal; emulating the aura of French Vitners and cork stoppers for vine bottles particularly in bar areas.
Teracotta tiles (albeit in matte finish) is another choice of materials adding onto the cozy/rustic character of the interior scape:
Dawn Goldworm (Scent Director 12.29) has caught onto this design for the senses vibe in her own individualistic way which might not have been very appealing for our design world experts, maybe a decade ago. I had the privilege of meeting her at the Index Design Series Exhibition dubai where she, along with Letitia Fitzgibbon (Head of Interior Design at Harrod’s interiors) had embellished one of the VIP lounges by introducing her rainforest-themed scent aimed at giving the sensation as if “one had put his/her hands in the soil of the forest” – in turn reinvigorating and re-energizing people:
Such attempts are very much relevant today (and even more so in the future) especially considering that people are becoming increasingly health conscious and aware of how life-like features of the non-human environment (well-punctuated light, sound, odour, weather, water, vegetation, animals and landscapes) are instrumental in improving their human, physical, emotional and intellectual fitness.
Other more futuristic approaches include:
- The simple, surefire and elegant virgin megastore product, ‘Click and Grow‘, housing plants indoors without any need for sunlight and especially made to counter the ‘typical morbidity’ of apartment living:
- Fabrics taking inspiration from the ocean and its inhabitants.
- Self-cleaning anti-bacterial tiles:
- Transparent Solar Panels and the Bio/Solar Wallpapers are the wave of the future. Probable uses include solar-power generating windows. However, research is still underway to enable realizing full-potential and commercialization:
- Bettair House, recently showcased during the recent Dubai Design Week (November 2017) draws upon the principles of sustainability and materiality. It utilizes eco-friendly, anti-polluting light fixtures which work even when switched off.
Combining the best of nature and technology, we can all look forward to colours cleaned up and infused with the feel of the present digital age as well as the outdoors. Just recently Pantone declared ‘Ultraviolet’ as the colour of the year 2018 – quite a bold transition from the 2017 colour of the year greenery:
The two colour palettes most likely to rule the current and near future of interior design will be:
2. Jewel Tones
Trend Bible states how foresty hues can create an aura of “escapism” with our surroundings becoming “intertwined with nature, filled with comforting tacility”:
Also, watch out for a combination of forest hues and jewel tone accents!!!:
The London Townhouse shown below successfully objectifies the gist of the future interior design trends; in that it incorporates all the bold jewel tones as well as the essential elements such as velvet, dedar wool upholstery, contemporary/futuristic art works, wool and silk rugs/carpets, geometry in floor/wall patterns, jewel shaped side tables including diamonds and sapphires, brass and black-lacquer cocktail table, dining chairs upholstered in eel skin in shades of blue, green, gold and eggplant (forest hues), letter shaped stools, and hand sewn fabric borders:
Beware and make sure not to get caught up in the following trends which are on their way out:
- Matching of curtains-upholstry-carpets ‘
- Monochromatic colour schemes
- Dusty pastels with the perpetual “just-not-quite-clean” look. Instead decisive, vibrant and bold colours will rule.
Fashion and interiors have always been closely linked as evident in the eighteenth century and then later the 60’s era where jersy fabric was stretched over foam rubber forms and Mary Quant’s infamous miniskirt inspired countless efforts. However this correlation can now be seen to be stronger than ever before as pointed out recently by renowned industrial experts such as Henry Holland of the House of Holland at the INDEX trade exhibition 2017, Dubai. Identical jewel tones – to add that dash of sparkle and interest, frills, tassles, feathers and art inspired/infused prints marking the equally identical values of energy and optimism in this otherwise crisis-stricken world:
Henry Holland recently transitioned into the interior design industry and unveiled his typically bold range for Habitat, UK, three months before the index trade exhibition, Dubai 2017:
The following few images are an attempt to showcase the ever strengthening bond between interiors and fashion:
Overall, interiors are likely to trend into more moody versions of themselves described by Talia Lakritz as darker walls and contrasts, jewel tones including greens, fuschia and teal:
Importantly, what can also be concluded from the above images is that gender blur in terms of colours and agender styling as well as lack of seasonal borders will definitely become more pronounced; the trend having already orginated in 2016, Chris Weller appropriately states how “we are now living in a day and age where gender fluidity and what it means to be feminine and masculine have not only evolved, they have been turned upside down and inside out”. For interiors then, this would be notions of the likes of ‘too feminine a choice of colour’ or ‘needing to incorporate masculinity per se into the interior of a bedroom to be shared by both genders’, to loose any context, meaningfulness and purpose.
Bling is definitely back and here to stay! – albeit without stripping off the interior of its elegance. At the time of the rap artists of the 70’s, bling manifested itself in the form of jewelry and accessories to represent activism and resistance and later became a way of flaunting materialism and status, finally taking the fashion industry by a storm 2000 onwards. Even though during the great recessions (2008-2012), people withdrew from bling completely treating precious gems as an investment instead of a means to show off, with the global economy now on a mend, today, ‘bling’ connotates moods symbolizing fun and stylistic safe-haven, often with the purpose of seeking attention.
With sparkly chandeliers, iridiscent looks, glitzy decor, and jewel tones topping the priority list, metallic decor/furnishings are expected to continue albeit more inclined towards “whitened copper (classic aged/acid-etched brass and nickel, black steel and burnished metals instead of shiny copper) for an elegant transitional mood; not to forget matte glazes, chalk paints, oxidized metals for understated glamour and unpolished semi-precious stones turned into door pulls. So less shiny metals and more matted/sophisticated finishes with just enough sparkle to bring in the little oomph factor:
There’s a lot that can be said and explained about 3D printing in terms of how it can be done or what it actually is! However, in case you are interested more in the technical jargon, you can find plenty of information on the web. Here are a few key takeaways on how it is revolutionizing the interiors industry:
- The choice of materials that can be used for making 3D printed furniture, decorations etc is quite vast including plastics, wood and organic matter.
- Due to computer aided design techniques employed by designers, a variety of shapes and designs are made possible while reducing material wastage and cutting down costs all at once! Good news for Sustainable and Green Design Enthusiasts!!
- This technique can enable a greater amount of customer interaction where they can be part of the design process! It leads to greater level of comfort, client involvement, personalization, co-creation, flexibility for the company itself and in turn, customer trust with the designer – all of which ultimately also lead to an increase in profits.
- The wide variety of materials available for printing also incorporate recyclable and environmentally friendly materials.
- Some patent expired 3D printing techniques such as Fuse Deposition (FDM) , being amongst the lowest cost techniques, have made the adaptation of this trend even more convenient across industries.
- The advent of techniques such as Direct Metal Laser Sintering have made it possible to print real-sized parts (instead of mere prototypes, as in the past) that can be utilized in the final product.
Endless Coffee table and Flow Rocking Chair for children by studio Dirk Vander Kooij (2013). Each piece is claimed to be industrially produced and ‘one-of-a-kind’ with 100% recycled plastics.
Keystone, by Studio Minale-Maeda, 2014 – aimed at reducing the design of a piece of furniture to a single connector – a compact piece that can be 3d printed on-location reducing carbon footprint. Such in-house/on-site facilities are also already being pursued by big names in the fashion industry such as Nike, Nokia and Ittala.
Villa in Beijing Resort, by Rael Sanfratello (2013)
Plant-Like Lamps created with 3D printed flowers by KiKi van Eijk.
Finally, the biggest leap forward into the future of design trends would be acknowledging how Norman Fosters just finished a project with the European Agency where the idea is to send a robotic arm on the moon so it can use moondust to print a house using 3D printing. Well here we have it….Moon calling all interior designers!!!
One trend that has been done away with completely is stark Scandinavian minimalism and fast furniture. What is likely now, going forwards into the future, is ‘Relaxed Maximalism’. Let me explain what that means. Nowadays when the world has become more aware and interconnected, where a greater number of people have started travelling more, there is a strong desire to:
- indulge in reminisce,
- show case memories,
- personalize spaces to demonstrate a sense of belonging and storytelling
- and move away from the ostentatious and towards restrained/understated elegance.
In effect, neither too little, nor too much – just the right amount! This also means the dawn of an era- as eclectic as it could get – marked by antiquing, artisan/handcrafted goods, art, typography, less hoarding and more experiencing things, storage and decorative overlapping, repurposing, upcycling, and re-envisioning; where renowned brands and tags would not determine the ostentatious, exclusivity/rarity would and where the idea of ‘ageing gracefully’ will be more readily embraced than ever before.
Inspiration from global culture-mosaic patterns, multicultural references subtly layered together; vibrant room schemes incorporating a blend of exotic styles and hues:
Vases made using the waste from the smartphone industry:
Furniture made from industrial scrap by inhabitat:
A storage Trunk re-envisioned as seating:
Storage Trunk Envisioned Differently:
Clients now have increasing expectations to have something tailor-made to their personalities:
Typography, rather than the typical quotes will more likely be along the lines of random scribblings or more so to serve as a complement to an interior space’s story and “live on in smaller finishing touches like pillows and art. Pantone has already included typography in its list of predicted trends of 2018:
Out of the celebrity homes, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Malibu Home embodies the trend in question most perfectly. Equipped with just the right kinds of intimate spaces, organic forms, unorthodox geometry and handcrafted details, it may be termed the perfect form of personal retreat and respite; a means of exotic escapism for the dweller of today:
“Everything needed to be done by hand,” Will says. “We wanted to feel the love and labour that went into every piece of this place.” According to the local architect, Stephen Samuelson, the aesthetic is anchored in history and the various interpretations of adobe in Persian, Moroccan, Spanish, as well as Southwest American cultures. Affording absolutely majestic views of nature and an eerie gazebo in the distance, it boasts:
- the exotic choice of hand-troweled plaster for the exterior,
- traditional stucco on the reclaimed timber ceiling beams and salt cedar latillas,
- light wells to let in natural light,
- 19th century oak panels, antique front door salvaged from a North Indian Fort,
- hand-chiseled wooden doors,
- cowhide, wool, leather and metallic furnishings and decor (twisted brass wire, hand-hammered bronze, copper mesh fireplace screen),
- and madagascar minerals and gemstones
to name a few.
It is not business as usual anymore. Designing interior spaces will no longer be limited to specific rooms or areas serving defined purposes. each room or space will be highly versatile in terms of functionality, sizing and structure:
- As living expenses are on the rise, combined/smart/communal living/ might be seen more and more a solution in times to come. Hence along with the requirement for common places to interact/socialize, convenient privacy and independent routines would be equally sought after; engendering the need for products geared more and more towards effective space management. Simply put, there will no longer be the typical dining rooms, living rooms, or set entertainment system fixtures for example. In fact virtual rooms with portable devices blurring boundaries and allowing household members to engage in individual interests while still being together in one space, will prevail. Lennar is the first home builder offering “a home within a home”; especially designed for shared living without any comfort and privacy sacrifice and with cost savings. An similarity could be drawn to the 1950’s and 60’s when architects continued to manipulate the verticality of the space with elements hung from the ceiling and dual level seating arrangements in favour of complete, flexible habitats.
- Furthermore this space versatility will also be reflected in workplace interiors in a way that not only will the space be conducive to successful work task achievements but also encourage communication, collaboration and serendipitous interaction between the workers and at the same time not restricting their individual/quiet working areas/options. Also at the INDEX talks, Stuart Allen (Allen Architecture and Interiors) discussed how restricting just one kind of office space for one function should not be a compulsion.He discussed how viaducts, floating structures, coffee shops etcetera are all emerging as office spaces. Ben Woods (General Manager, OFIS, Dubai) added that space, light, ergonomics, and worker well being all need to be managed to complement to eachother. In the same regard, Angelique Cecchini (Business Manager, Steelcase, UAE) explanied how sometimes, “creativity means creating mental/physical distance” and that incubation and allowing time for the brain to rest are very important – hence indirectly alluding to respite spaces for employees. Also, she stressed on how essential it is to provide as flexible/varied as possible options to the employees to be able to communicate/interact on a regular basis (instead of a mere open space or plan); enabling them to work from anywhere at all; where the ‘office’ is treated more like a ‘destination’ rather than ‘compulsion’.
- The same versatility also implies residential designs/spaces will have to be flexible enough to incorporate possibilities of working from home; implying design in terms of plurality; with more and more women coming into the workforce, and people (in general) seeking a work/life balance, with a rising number of entrepreneurs and free lancers.
Home office workspaces: