by Janet Dunn
Design trends that once took years to work their way around the globe now zoom across our radar with dazzling speed. This gives us almost instant access to an evolving melting pot of concepts to pore over and decide what we’d like to see in our homes – maybe just the germ of an idea, maybe a whole change in direction. More than ever, trends are being driven by attitudes and responses to our changing world. Fresh from our panel of experts, these trend predictions put us in the picture for a thought-provoking 2017.
Without exception, our experts commented on the strong relationship between current interior trends and how we are viewing changes in the modern world. Social context and trends go hand in hand and as the planet’s future becomes more uncertain and downright scary, and lifestyles more pressured, we are looking more than ever to ‘home’ and the shelter it provides.
Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle says: “We are focusing on our homes as sanctuaries, places where we feel safe and nurtured. This means our passion for home improvements is very unlikely to show any signs of slowing down in 2017.”
More people are working from home, therefore spending more time there, says Ioanna Lennox of Ioanna Lennox Interiors. “This is driving a need to feel cocooned from outside pressures and stresses,” Lennox says. “We’ll see more people renovating, decorating and beautifying their houses, turning them into homes, rather than just transient living accommodation.”
Our experts are excited about the notion of unhitching ourselves from what Bronwyn Poole from Touch Interiors calls a “style agenda”, following a particular set of rules to get a particular ‘look’. She sees a shift towards understanding the importance of having a home like no-one else’s, a home inspired uniquely from our own stories.
Lennox agrees, suggesting that we’ll see a general freedom and spontaneity in interior design that has perhaps been lacking. Reffet is on the same page: “People are likely to be more daring with their design choices in order to reflect their personalities and create their own nests,” she says.
Are you ready to be a ‘global nomad’ or a ‘desert wanderer’? Perhaps you’ve always been one, but now this strong trend has a name, coined by UK trend forecasting agency Scarlet Opus. It defines a marked drift towards eclectic combinations of artefacts and styles from other cultures and an increasing appreciation for artisan objects and crafts, inspired by past travels in exotic locations. It seems to be driven by a realisation of just how complicated our lives have become and how beneficial it is to embrace simplicity, if only in the small space we call home.
Tennille Burnup, from Tennille Joy Interiors, says desert wanderer is one of her favourite trends for 2017. She sees it as inspired by ancient cultures, a desire for a less rushed approach to modern life. “Translated into interiors it’s about primitive, raw elements, old textile techniques and rug work, borrowing and adapting traditional tribal patterns from old cultures, like Aztec and Moroccan.”
Being a desert wanderer doesn’t mean your home will resemble a Bedouin tent or a Mongolian yurt, or that elegance has left the building. Cool, white interiors and clean, modern furniture can be stunning with a few well-curated tribal pieces. This home has perfected the look with tactile velvety leather in dusty brown, dramatic tribal artefacts and touches of indigo.
Perfect Imperfect, the recently published book by design and architecture author and editor Karen McCartney, celebrates the beauty of the lived-in, the random and the less-than-flawless. This relates closely to wabi-sabi, a deeply cultural Japanese concept that rejoices in the imperfections and authentic patina that the passing of time leaves behind.
This concept is finding a firm foothold in our homes. Poole applauds the message: “We are unconsciously gravitating to the raw, used, reimagined, natural and unique. I see this as a revolt against modern living and a deep yearning to reconnect with nature. Ultimately, remember it’s a slightly ‘off’ design sensibility that takes a home from the text book to the incredible.”
Fabrics are getting in on the act for 2017. Reffet says natural textural fabrics will continue to set the mood – linen, heavy cotton, canvas, hemp, wool. Silky gauzes and velvets tone down and soften with more refined weaves and a luxurious sheen.
Burnup predicts lots of unfinished edges on raw fabrics and salt-wash linens. Forget neat hems – we’re going for fringes, tassels, and frayed edges that look as if they’ve been torn or just come off the loom.
Authenticity isn’t always attainable or affordable, so sometimes we have to fake it. Roughing up and antiqueing fabrics is a growing business, with techniques like tea-dyeing, salt-washing, mega-washing, sandpapering and even wire brushing.
Lennox says natural fibres will continue to appeal in 2017, and not just in textiles. Organic, rugged woven textures that actually feel like the material they are made from have never been more present in our homes. Reeds, rattan, jute, cane, seagrass and bamboo will enjoy popularity in furniture, lighting, and as decorative pieces.
Cane chairs, often in mid-century forms with a twist, like these Acapulco-style chairs with a more complex shape and timber legs, and cane classics like hanging chairs and peacock chairs, are making the scene for 2017.
Tribal-inspired woven baskets will be big, not just in size for their practical storage, but as beautiful tactile objects. We’ll see a lot of collapsable seagrass ‘belly baskets’ and rustic French-style market baskets.
Many of these products are flowing from fair-trade initiatives in underdeveloped countries, fostering economic self-reliance for groups of disadvantaged women. Scarlet Opus lists a strong 2017 message called ‘Tribe’, an attitudinal trend towards supporting the independence of women in all cultures – they say this will be reflected in what we choose to buy for our homes.
Reffet makes a thoughtful link between the slowing down of the Australian real estate scene and a predicted bolder approach to our home decor. “During our property ‘bubble’, our mindset was to add value to our properties and appeal to a large market. Neutrals and safe choices ruled; boldness and uniqueness were rarely embraced.” In the future, she says, we’ll see stronger colours, the return of coloured tiles, bold prints, patterns and murals on walls.
Lennox also foresees more dynamism in design, resulting in positive strong forms and spaces, with distinctive colour and patterns still very much the flavour.
More info: Search tiles for your bathroom design
Minimalism has had a good run, says Reffet, but we should get ready for a more layered eclectic look, giving a lived-in, well-travelled ambience to our homes. We’ll freely mix eras, she says, for example, ruggedly imperfect ceramics resting near the clean lines of a Scandinavian-style table. This bedroom could be described as both minimal and eclectic. It’s earthy, textured, sleek and functional, the uncluttered elements not tethered to a style, but in harmony with each other and a perfect example of ‘less, but better.’
We’ll be feathering our nests with soft textures and body-friendly, less structured shapes, says Lennox. “Curvier, more feminine forms are manifesting in everything from tables and chairs to handles and hardware, taps and light fixtures.” Reffet predicts that sofas will be lower and will lose some of their rectangular angles, “for a plusher let’s-Netflix-binge-this-weekend vibe.” Materials such as cork, snuggly furs, wool in giant hand knits and chunky wall-hangings will add to our cosy homes.
For textural contrast, warm metallics will stay around, with emphasis on burnished bronzes, gunmetal and natural brass, not super-polished imposters. Marble – the real thing, not digitally printed – continues to add sophistication. Crystals are an intriguing entrant in the trend stakes – geodes cracked to reveal their crystalline depths are shining in unusual places such as bathroom vanities and kitchen benches.
In 2017, Reffet says we’ll revisit the ’70s. Although the trend already has traction, it’s set to live on, motivated by nostalgia for house plants, jewel colours, macrame, surfer artwork, terracotta, and bright kaleidoscope and abstract patterns. She attributes this to our turning from a complicated and rather grim modern world to “an era of joie de vivre and innocence, of progress and freedom when we felt that everything was possible.”
Jacquelene Symond from The Colour Agency thinks we’re getting to the end of the grey cycle. She notes an interesting colour trend towards shades of purple. Taubman’s Colour of 2017 is ‘Violet Verbena’, a transition from greys to purple. Benjamin Moore describes its annual colour winner, ‘Shadow’, as “rich, royal amethyst, a deep purple-blue reflecting the sky at dusk” – a gorgeous way to warm up a charcoal-based decor.
Symond notes the “controlled rusticity” of the desert wanderer theme unveiled by Scarlet Opus forecasting agency. “The key to this palette is warm earthiness, inspired by a desert sandstorm – muted saffron and cinnamon and tones of orange,” she says.
Cosy new neutrals are making an appearance to enhance these colours – check Pantone’s ‘Hazelnut’ and Sherwin Williams’ woodsy complex Colour of the Year, ‘Poised Taupe’. Check out Dulux’s ‘Butter Cookie’, a spicy ginger-caramel, and ‘Manila’, a muted peachy cream.
Shades of green are also coming back into vogue. “Not the chartreuse of a few years ago, but foliage-based greens like Pantone’s ‘Kale’ and Dulux’s ‘Army Fatigue’,” says Symond. Looking at these greens with woodsy neutrals, she is reminded of our growing need to reconnect with nature.
This green scene will be augmented by the best greens of all, real ones from nature. After a big indoor plant comeback recently, says Reffet, “fortunately, our leafy friends are here to stay and will continue to overtake our interiors in their natural state or as prints on homewares.”
You heard it here … olive trees are the new fiddle leaf fig!
That inky blue-black that has whipped up a storm in the fashion world will continue to capture our hearts in interiors. If shiny, pure black is a step too far for you, a blue-black that has faded to a soft washed matt shade is another way to swing to the dark side.
Lennox looks forward to a more organic, less structured and more ‘tribal’ and back-to-basics attitude to our homes. For Burnup, these trends hook into the slower pace of old cultures and our wellbeing, as we make our homes a respite from technology-driven lifestyles. Given current worldwide events, Symonds says we may be craving a sense of grounding and stability that earthy colours are able to offer us.
Poole is happy to see homes that look authentically lived in and not merely styled to a prescribed design agenda. “This is so appealing,” she says. And over to Reffet: “Dust off your kilim rugs, puff up your Moroccan pouffes, water your rubber plant, and enjoy the ride,” she says.