Newsletter 5: Design Trends

I recently spend four days in Highpoint, North Carolina at one of the world’s largest furniture and interior design trade shows. (For a longer narrative on what the week meant to me as a person who’s new to this field, check out my blog post: A New Designer at the World’s Biggest Furniture Trade Show). In this Next Dinner Party Designs newsletter, I want to talk about upcoming design trends.

I attended a talk by a trend forecaster with FashionSnoops, whose whole schtick is to keep an eye on what fabrics furniture makers are buying, what sort of things are appearing at design shows around the world, and much more, to predict what design trends consumers will see a few years out. According to her, and based on what I saw at Highpoint, here’s what you can expect.

Sustainable Everything

Gen Z especially are interested in using sustainable products for furniture and home decor, for instance bedding that uses fewer chemicals including bleach, and just repurposing materials in general, like textiles made out of recycled clothes. It’s a trend apparently called “seed to shelf.” As in, grow then thing, process it as little as possible, and market it. There’s a movement – especially among up-and-coming designers and student designers – in using natural, renewable materials such as eggshells and seaweed in production of textiles. I was impressed with a company exhibiting at Highpoint that makes their furniture from bamboo, a super fast growing and durable grass. (Like, really fast growing: Bamboo can grow 20 feet in a week).

Get in on the trend: Incorporate textiles, such as throw pillows or drapes, that were made using sustainable dying techniques. Or, if you have some drab neutral drapes or otherwise a lot of fabric, try your hand at dying it in your tub with natural products. Apparently avocado skins produce a nice pinky hue. Or, just don’t buy so many new things. Buy an old rug, use your FB Marketplace feature, buy from thrift and antique stores.

Bathroom as Sanctuary

Chalk it up to all that time spent indoors during COVID, or chalk it up to the focus on “self care” but bathroom renovation are by far the most popular home renovation of the past year. And, many of the design blogs I follow have mentioned that photos of bathrooms they’ve posted have racked up the highest social media views.

Get in on the Trend: Many of my clients are living abroad in government-rented properties to installing a nicer tub is probably not in the cards. But a fix I’d highly recommend: Better lighting in the bathroom where you do most of your getting ready. Harsh white-blue lights bring out all the imperfections in your skin – dark undereye circles, bruises, zits – really all the things that don’t make you feel so great about your appearance. Switch out your bathroom lights, and really every light in the house to warm – it MUST BE WARM – white light. If your light fixtures themselves are heinous, you should switch those too.

Large Artwork Instead of Gallery Wall Above Sofa

I don’t think gallery walls are gone, by any means, and I’m glad for it, because I think they can be so interesting and offer a certain type of charming British coziness. But they are hard to do right (hint: You must have at least one sizable piece in the mix so it’s not a bunch of tinies floating around). And gallery walls are not cheap because you must have lots of art or objet d’art and much of it should be framed, which in general, is pricey. I saw many vignettes over sofas at Highpoint that were one large piece or two, generally with a picture light over it. (Don’t have a wall that’s wired? There’s lots of great remote controlled operated LED light picture lights out there).

Get in on the trend: I have a ton of ideas about how to do large art without breaking the bank, such as finding a local place to print an image you purchase (from Etsy for instance) as large as they can, and then having a local framer frame it. I once helped my neighbor in Jerusalem make this option a reality with a black and white ocean photo and I think it was about $300 all told. (I also offer art consultations/selection, and I’ll design your gallery wall.)

No More Gray! Death to Gray!

Gray has been over for several years now, and some theorize that it’s fall as the go-to neutral began with the forced homeboundedness of COVID when everyone suddenly realized how not cozy of a color it is. In its place are warmer neutrals, such as a creamy white and pinky-beige, like Sherwin William’s Color of the year, Redend Point.

Get in on the trend: Maybe you’re not ready to repaint all your walls and cabinets that were gray, to replace those grayish wood floors you installed, or to re-do your upholstery on all your gray furniture. But hear me out: Blue, which is generally also a cool color, is not the only contrasting color available for gray. I like to warm up gray spaces with warm metals, like gold and brass, warm wood of practically any tone, and sometimes even pinks and reds and oranges. The living room in our Princeton, N.J. rental was rather gray (gray walls, gray sofa, greige carpet, a stylish black and white photo photo wall) and I added in a brown throw blanket, some natural beige stoneware lamps, and a warm and vibrant pink and orange rug-covered wooden chair from Algeria which all really warmed up the gray.

A final thought on “should I even follow trends because won’t they just be out of style soon?” The FashionSnoops forecaster said she’s noticed trends are sticking around for much longer than they used to, perhaps because everything is more expensive than ever and no one is willing to shift to the next thing too quickly, or perhaps the style cycles – for fashion too – are just becoming longer. That’s a good thing. Think how a modern farmhouse kitchen has been around for probably the past five years and isn’t slowing. And obviously, gray was the “it” neutral, gosh, for at least the past five years. One trend I saw lots of but didn’t mention: Rounded furniture. I saw more cylindrical couches than I could count, and they sure are sleek and mod, but unless a client was going for that vibe, I’d probably still recommend a more traditional shape for a sofa.

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