Already for some seasons bulky, chubby shapes have been an inspiring source for many designers. Perhaps it derives from the current revival of the seventies where chubby, tubular shapes played an important role in interior design. Or from the desire to take a more playful approach to the design process and create products that are functional but also tactile to the eye and touch. Combine for instance bulky looks with soft curves or soft materials to create that playful yet elegant design. Or make small furniture like stools and tables or home decoration items in this style. All these will fit perfectly in the current zeitgeist and will certainly attract the attention of anyone interested in contemporary design. Feel inspired? You are kindly invited to please check out my Pinterest ‘bulky’ board for more ideas.
We’re growing more and more aware of the increasing environmental problems and the fact that we have to take action to stop pollution taking over planet earth. Fortunately there are increasing initiatives from different disciplines to work together to find solutions to this big problem (see printyour.city or fashionforgood.com). Also in the design world, whether fashion or interior design related, we see good examples of finding ways to make products from recycled material, thus being more eco friendly and sustainable. Take a look at Konstantin Grcic’s fashion collection for clothing brand Aeance, made of 96% recycled, natural or biodegradable materials. Or the carpet tiles made out of recycled polyester by Object Carpet and the remake of garden furniture (designed in 1955 by the late Hanna and Jorgen Ditzel) made from ocean plastic by Copenhagen based company Mater.
The latest trends in interior design are as versatile as ever, ranging from evergreen neutrals to new pastels like coral, mint and honey yellow, to darker seventies inspired hues. For this blog my preference went to this darker side of the colour spectrum with colours like dark aubergine, teal, mustard and blue. When combined with a little creative courage, you can create interesting combinations that give a new look and feel to interiors. Think using these colours on walls or floors, add some (vintage) furniture in this look or opt for home textiles like curtains and/or carpets in more outspoken colours and patterns. When opting to work from a neutral base, you can add some eyecatching items or objects like for instance the sofa or the mirrored folding screen, to create this look.
The Mursi People from Ethiopia have been using elaborate and decorative body art as a form of self-expression for an extremely long time and find great pleasure and pride in painting and expressing themselves. Body painting starts from a very young age, with mothers painting and decorating their babies with detailed designs. Body art is used to connect the people of the Mursi Tribe to their surrounding natural environment. It is believed in the tribe that if you are connected to your land you will live a long and prosperous life. Each pattern and design has a different meaning and is used for particular events, ceremonies and rituals. One of the main features of the Mursi tribes body art is the use of many spherical shapes, a heritage that still inspires modern product design!
There are lots of new developments when it comes to using flowers in the interior. Whether it be composing exciting and inspiring bouquets to give beauty and a joyful touch to a room or using the diversity of flower prints and patterns in decorating our homes. If you want to go all the way and make an eclectic combination of different types of flower prints, then be sure to use a well-chosen colour scheme where colours don’t clash but have the same kind of intensity, like with the above shown pictures. If an eclectic style is a bit too much to your taste, then opt for adding small details to a more neutral base and use flower prints for decorative items like for instance lamps or poufs or use them on tableware or home textiles.
The origin of lace is disputed by historians. There is both an Italian and a Flemish claim, but since lace evolved from other techniques, it is impossible to say that it originated in any one place. The late 16th century marked the rapid development of lace, both needle lace (made with needle and thread)and bobbin lace (made with bobbins and a pillow) became dominant in fashion as well as home décor. The popularity of lace increased rapidly and the cottage industry of lace making spread throughout Europe. Originally linen, silk, gold, or silver yarns were used. Now lace is often made with cotton yarns, although linen and silk yarns are still available, the choice of course depending on the exclusivity of the design. Manufactured lace may be made of synthetic fibre and modern artists and designers create lace effects and objects with all kind of materials as shown in the pictures.
A lot of new interesting design and architecture is emerging, where geometry is combined with sculptural flow. Playing with these contrasts is much at the forefront currently, as can be witnessed when taking a closer look at all the latest developments in architecture and interior design. Just have a look at the above shown pictures which bring us an array of ideas to work from, ranging from more complex ones to the more easylyadaptable, when designing new products. The structures as seen on the pictures on the right can for instance be translated into carpets and other home textiles like curtains and bedlinnen, but also into tiles or table tops. The structure on the left could be a starting point for room dividers, benches or side tables. So be inspired and let your creativity flow!
I couldn’t stop myself to again show some amazing design in black & white. It is such a versatile source and has such a powerful design language that it pops up time and again and has the capacity to keep us hooked over and over again. The current interest in geometric design may have to do with the fact that we’re celebrating 100 year Bauhaus in museums and galleries across the world. Architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, in 1919. Although it was in operation for just 14 years, it has become the most influential art and design school in history. At first influenced by 19th and early-20th-century artistic schools and movements this vision had, by the mid-1920s, given way to a stress on uniting art and industrial design, and it was this which underpinned the Bauhaus’s most original and important achievements. Many of its key principles as form follows function and linear geometrical forms where only line, shape and colour mattered, still stand today in fashion and interior design!
The idea of a secret garden appeals to our imagination. We would like to wander around and get ourselves infused with the calm and beauty we can find in this garden. We take a closer look at the diversity of trees, flowers and herbs that traditionally symbolize feelings, moods or ideas. Not to forget the avifauna with its richness of colours that also inspires us. This secret garden (that symbolizes our natural environment) is a place to preserve and keep safe for future generations. This awareness is growing and is perhaps one of the reasons that lies behind all the flower inspired home decorations items and patterns we are seeing these days in fashion and interior design.
This week’s blog is about one of the many new colour ranges we have seen recently when it comes to interior design. Our focus is on warm earthy colours, ranging from terra to soft pinks and from warm sand to coral hues. These colours have already been the focus of interest for several seasons for designers and architects alike, because they make for the perfect new neutral base. They are both warm and soothing when applied within its own colour palette, but can also be the starting point when mixing with other colour ranges. Think combinations with whites and beiges, pastels or the darker grey and black hues. We even see them combined with small accents of vivid yellow and blue, to work as eyecatching details. Furthermore, this neutral colour base is perfect when wanting to combine different trends (think dried flowers, new romance, soft shapes, the use of rattan) to create a whole new atmosphere or collection.
Clean geometrical lines and strong colour combinations are the backbone of inspirational design. They will never fade but will always be on trend because they never tire us. By using them in product and interior design or in architecture you can create clarity and freshness in an overcrowded world. Perhaps this is the reason that we’re currently seeing so much of it, both on the catwalk and at the interior fairs. The above shown pictures give you some ideas as a starting point when developing your own collection or products. The colourful circles can be translated to carpets, poufs or tabletops. The colourblocking as seen on the right side can be a source for creating small furniture items or decorative home accessories, it can also be used on walls to create a jawdropping background for your product presentations. Enjoy discovering all possibilities!
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Already centuries ago early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
Taking a brief look at history we see that there are various traditions and festivities concerning this winter solstice, that we adapted along the way to fit our modern lives. So we celebrate with good food and wine (like the Romans did), make a cosy fire (like the Norsemen did in recognition of the return of the sun), or look after the poor and less fortunate (also done by the Romans). It was a way of bringing groups together across the lines of wealth or social status. So let’s all be merry and have a peaceful, warm-hearted december holiday!
Already from the 1600s on, the atelier was a place of creating all kind of pieces of fine or decorative art, most of the time supervised by the ‘master’ who taught the apprentices and assistants. This way of working in educating visual or fine arts was often enforced by local guild regulations who taught the essence of these crafts. This system was gradually replaced as the once powerful guilds declined, and the academy became a favoured method of training. Although the methods varied, most ateliers or academies trained their students in the skills and techniques of creating some form of art. Not much has changed there, except for the fact that emphasis nowadays is more placed on individual creativity, because students will then exhibit a wide range of personal styles, an increasing amount of creative experimentation and thus diversity. And that makes design a lot more interesting!
A tough fabric, “serge de Nimes” was the base for the denim workwear clothes Levi Strauss created somewhere back in1853. An invention that has survived many hypes and trends and has grown over decades into an evergreen that appeals to almost everyone. History tells us that the fabric was produced in Nimes in the South of France and was dyed indigo blue because at that time this was the cheapest dye in the market. This blue dye came from Genova, which then was under French reign, and was called bleu de Gênes. This is were the name (blue) jeans derived from. The cloth was called denim from shortening the fabric name “serge de Nimes”. The colour blue is also an evergreen and a favourite colour for many people, it is associated with peace and harmony, intelligence and trust. So I suggest to take these two evergreens as a starting point to create beautiful designs.
The term monochrome comes from ancient Greek monochromes, meaning having one colour. A monochromic image is one composed of values of one colour, that is a presentation of a single colour in different shades. This just means that a single colour is depicted in different values and intensities. The colour remains the same but the elements that differ are brightness, lightness, darkness or dullness of the colour. The values and intensities become different when the main colour is mixed with black, white or gray. The weighting of all these individual components is selected to achieve a desired effect and allows a wide range of artistic expression. The images show us the many monochrome compositions when only using the all-time favourite colours black and white. Not to mention all other options when adding components like different materials, surfaces and patterns.
Throughout history colour schemes have often been used to define different feelings and emotions depending on one’s culture and origin. Colours can affect how we feel subconsciously, we may not even be aware of it, but the impact on our behavior is certain. The use of colour to express certain messages is still very relevant nowadays in every day life, art and design. The reason that we’re seeing lots of yellow based colours in fashion and interior design, is in my opinion because designers want to express the message of hope. Looking at the positive meaning of the colour yellow we see words like sunshine, positivism and happiness. Yellow also represents freshness, joy and optimism and studies show that the colour helps to encourage communication, enhance vision and build confidence. So let’s use lots of yellow hues!
The word ‘tradition’ derives from the Latin ‘tradere’, literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping. As with many other generic terms, there are many definitions of tradition. The concept includes a number of interrelated ideas, the unifying one is that tradition refers to beliefs, objects or customs performed in the past, transmitted through time by being taught by one generation to the next. Currently we’re seeing a renewed interest in tradition based cultural elements and craftsmanship and we seek ways to incorporate them in daily life, thus preserving them as a precious legacy for mankind. For this week’s blog item the base is a picture of a woman in traditional clothes from ‘Hindeloopen’, a small village in the Netherlands. The combination of prints and colours used, the flower inspired pattern, the choice for sturdy material, but also the typical glass bell that was a decorative item those days, are all elements we saw in the latest collections and they could be a source of inspiration for interior design items and home textiles.
There are certain ideas, the use of vivid colours and geometric shapes being among them, that don’t follow the latest trends, but have a timeless approach that could stand the test of time. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that both artists and designers often come back to them, finding new ways of interpreting these evergreens and developing new products, artworks, sculptures and installations that in turn can be a source of inspiration for fashion and interior design. Have a look at The Gibbs Farm sculpture garden in New Zealand with its arrangement of coloured squares, or Christo’s The London Mastaba in Hyde Park made of 7506 barrels placed on a platform that floats in the water and translate these images to carpets, boxes, small furniture items or tube lampshades. There is a world of inspiration waiting out there!
Beauty in nature has historically been a prevalent theme in art and books, filling large sections of libraries and bookstores. That nature has been depicted and celebrated by so much art, photography, poetry and design, shows the strength with which many people associate nature and beauty. Coming from the Latin word ‘natura’, or ‘essential qualities’ it probably is one of the most researched sources for fashion and interior design inspiration. A collection based on the beauty of natural things can express a timeless elegance and subtle refinement that appeals to many people because of its power to create a harmonious atmosphere. For the coming seasons trend and colour forecast agencies embrace once again this natural trend with its broad range of colours and materials waiting to be turned into the classics of tomorrow.
In Greek mythology Narcissus fell in love with his own image in a pool of water not knowing what created this effect of his reflective image. Nowadays technology gives us all the tools to create new images and products that have this idea of reflection as a starting point. We are fascinated by the multiple possiblities and seek all kind of ways to maniplulate the effects of the reflection of light on surfaces and materials by folding, bending or even using lasers to create patterns. The outcome of this search is an impressive range of interesting products, installations or sculptures as can be witnessed in the latest product designs that saw the light at this season’s fairs or at the Burning Man Festival 2018 (picture on the right side). So check out this theme and its sources and be inspired.
Ceramic tiles are one of the oldest forms of decorative art. They have been widely used due to their durability, technical properties and visual richness. The word “tile” comes from the French word “tuile”, which is derived from the latin word “tegula”, meaning a roof tile of baked clay. As for the word “ceramic”, it comes from the Greek word “keramikos”, which means “of pottery” or “for pottery”, and it is related to the Indo-European word “cheros”, which meant “heat”. The history of ceramic tiles begins with the oldest civilizations. It is known that Egyptians of the 4th millennium B.C. already used to decorate their houses with blue tile bricks and the Islamic Empires were responsible for spreading the use of the ceramic tile as wall covering. Taking a closer look at the history of tiles around the world you see beautiful examples with magnificent patterns and colours giving lots of inspiration for all kind of products, not only as floor- and wallcovering but also for home textiles like plaids, cushions, carpets, as well as home decoration items and small furniture. No wonder we have recently seen a lot of new interpretations of tiles in product development and interior design.
We’re witnessing a comeback of Western and Indian styles in the latest fashion shows. Whatever the reason that lies behind this, perhaps adventure, perhaps the search for traditional craftsmanship, living a freer live, or perhaps all of these, it gives us many sources and inspiration to work from when designing items or collections. Focusing in this article on craftmanship, think basket weaving by using leaves, grasses or thin strips of wood. But also beadwork by using different sewing techniques, for instance raised beadwork, unique to the Northeastern United States, a technique which creates dimensional designs which rise up from the surface of the fabric, or rugs from the looms of Navajo weavers that have distinct patterns and styles, all ready to be researched and developed to create beautiful new items.
Flowers have a privileged position in Chinese culture and play a significant role in daily life. Chinese believe that many flowers convey positive messages and so they appear in literature, food, textiles and other decorative items, each displaying its unique (traditional) meaning. Plum blossom for instance, stands for noble and modest qualities, but is also the name of a famous snack in Nanjing and Suzhou;)
The lotus flower is an important symbol of pureness, the flower along with its leaves, seeds and roots have been widely used in both Chinese cuisine and traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Until today, the magnificence of these flowers in shape and colour is a rich source of inspiration for designers and can be applied to (home)textiles, wallpapers, mosaic tiles, folding screens and many other interesting interior products.
Line is one of the formal elements of art. Along with elements like colour, shape and texture, it is something aesthetic that is an indispensable part of the design process.
Objectively, artists use line to outline shapes and create perspective, among other things. But there is also a theory that suggests various emotional states can be inspired by different types of lines in art and design. For example, a horizontal line supposedly conveys restfulness, a vertical line spirituality because it infers height, mixed horizontal and vertical lines stability, diagonal lines motion and curved lines supposedly convey humanity and sensuality. It is unknown whether people actually experience such feelings when looking at lines but both Kandinsky and Mondrian believed in the communicative power of line to express something harmonious and universal and they (still) have many followers.
Evidence of patchwork (putting smaller pieces together to create new ones) was found throughout history. The earliest examples have been located in Egyptian tombs and also in China about 5000 years ago. Further finds date from the early Middle Ages, where layers of (quilted) fabric were used for all kind of products, from clothes to hometextiles and so the practice of embellishing a simple cloth with patterns and embroidery developed. Today, creating new styles by means of patchwork appeals to many designers because of various reasons, the most important, I think, being the aspect of recycling it incorporates. Besides that ‘patchwork’ for me also has to do with combining different styles/patterns to create new styles.
We’re seeing a lot of new interpretations of the terrazzo trend that has been going on for some time. I believe this trend is here to stay because of its multiple possibilities and the recycle story that lies behind it. The technique is already hundreds of year old and was ‘invented’ by Venetian workers who used the rejected or residue material from the mines for terraces around their houses. This re-using of leftover materials is also something to research and develop further by interior designers because it helps diminish waste and can deliver beautiful product design that fits perfectly in contemporary lifestyles.
Design trends in the 1970s were marked by a backlash against the bright colours and futurism of the 1950s and 1960s and a rise in popularity of dark, earthy tones with extensive use of brown, green, purple, and orange. These darker colours reflected the back-to-nature mindset of the decade. Wood decor and paneling was integral to 1970s interior design as well, replacing the obsession of the 1950s and 1960s with chrome and aluminum. In architecture, buildings were created with more open space and groundbraking geometry. Many of the above mentioned style elements are at this moment being reinvented as contemporary design items, as can be seen in the images.
In the visual arts, composition is the ordering of elements according to a predetermined strategy. It is an attempt to create order in chaos. The term is sometimes also used as the title of a work of art, when it is the artist’s intention to make a work with the aim of creating a fascinating surface division, see picture on the left where Donald Judd created a landscape that he said could be seen as a carpet. Composition is also working with opposites. In the past, more thought was given to harmonic terms, rules were more strict, whereas in today’s art the disharmony and individual style research often prevail, leaving the spectator challenged and stimulated to improve the composition.
We see a lot of new interpretations of glass objects in interior design. The transparency and reflection of glass make it an interesting material to work with, in addition to the vast variations and combinations that can be made of it. Play with plain transparency and interesting structures, combine glass with metallics, wood or marble, create new patterns by e.g. looking at pictures of stained glass items, transform old styles into new by making them in a glass version. Let your mind wander to boost your creativity and be inspired!
We’re seeing a lot of flower prints in fashion and product design and for this blog I have chosen the ones with a dark background that reminds me of still life paintings with a botanical theme. Still life has origins in the Middle Ages and ancient Greco-Roman art, where it emerged as a distinct genre and has remained significant since then.
One advantage of the still life art form is that it allows an artist a lot of freedom to experiment, thus creating new shapes and patterns as shown above. A table by Marcin Rusak, a carpet by Alexander McQueen, clothes and accessories from the latest runway shows.
It’s interesting to see the shift from white oriented neutrals to darker ones. We saw terra as a newcomer about a year ago and now it is joined by, and combined with, dark oranges and browns. Copper and gold are still important and combine perfectly with these warmer hues, adding glow, depth and warmth. Using this colour palette together with strongly defined shapes, as shown in the pictures, can give an interesting design language to work with. You can also easily update existing product ranges by using these colours to give new spirit.
From all geometric shapes the circle is now having its momentum. The circle can be a symbol of freedom of expression, of completeness, eternity and security. This evergreen in its own right is also a popular shape for designers because of its versatility and the easiness and calmness it can express. The circle is also the main concept in Pantone’s colour forecast for AW 19/20, so I expect to see even more variations on the theme coming seasons. Interesting is of course how to implement or translate it into new shapes and patterns that will also stand the test of time.
…….is a series of four large-scale paintings by Barnett Newman painted between 1966 and 1970.He started the first painting in the series without a preconceived notion of the subject or end result; he only wanted it to be different from what he had done until then. But after having painted the canvas red, he was confronted with the fact that only the other primary colours yellow and blue would work with it, like the works of De Stijl and especially Piet Mondriaan, who’s geometric shapes and specific colour use are currently having great impact on fashion and interior design.
It’s interesting, four totally different designs, yet they look connected by the shape of the square patterns. What amazing products are created by just looking differently at a square, is shown in the pictures. From a vintage Moroccan rug giving inspiration through the simple square design, moving forward to clean and modern interpretations of the square as seen on the lampshade, the tiles and the mosaic.
Can we expect a revival of sculptural design? I would say yes, because I’ve seen some interesting new interpretations lately.
Left, Frank Gehry’s “Bubbles” chaise longue, for which he used corrugated cardboard. As the material wears it becomes suede-like, malleable and soft. Gehry first used corrugated cardboard in his Easy Edges furniture collection, introduced in 1972. The “Bubbles” Chaise Longue belongs to Experimental Edges, a second collection, introduced in 1979. Gehry’s intention was to make durable furnishings from throwaway material “to suit the homes of young as well as old, of urban sophisticates as well as country dwellers,” he has said.
Right, Ross Lovegrove ‘serpentine’ sculpture at the latest London Design Festival, made from suede-like fabric.
Hand drawn, hand written or sketched patterns are seen on a broad range of products and add a touch of personal expression to the product. Next to that I saw on Vogue.com the designer shows for AW 2018 bringing us many clothes and accessories with text messaging. Almost like reliving the status focused nineties, but luckily these days it is done with a wink and a smile and is the main message to express creativity.
The variations you can make with simple geometric lines are almost endless and therefore favorite by architects and designers. This trend has been hanging around for some time, think of all Scandinavian design that was omnipresent some years ago, but I see the trend evolve and deepen and thus becoming more interesting.
The pattern of these products resemble the grid of squares and blanks that form a puzzle. This grid can be the canvas for many pattern and design interpretations. Left you see a design by Gunta Stolzl who was a German textile artist who played a fundamental rol in the development of the Bauhaus school’s weaving workshop. Her work is thought to typify the distinctive style of Bauhaus textiles where modern art and mathematics were incorporated in their designs. Her work is of an extraordinary beauty.
The Wayuu is a Native American ethnic group that lives in northernmost part of Colombia and Venezuela. Wayuu culture is known for making Wayuu bags called ‘mochilas’. Characteristic for the fabrics are the decorating patterns inspired by nature and what they see around them. The patterns mostly have a geometric design and can be used to create all kind of products (see wall tiles on right side of picture).
Art deco originated in Paris around 1925 after the World Exhibition on decorative art. This was a period just after world war 1 and there was an idealistic and optimistic spirit in Europe. New art movements like Art Deco, Bauhaus and the Dutch Stijl had great impact on architecture, interior-, graphic- and product design. Currently we see originals or interpretations of these styles and patterns recurring in fashion and interior design. Also the use of colour from this period is a great source of inspiration.
Looking back to past decades still gives lots of inspiration for product design that fits the modern lifestyle. In this case elements form the seventies like shaggy textiles and old tapestries seem to have been one of the inspirational sources for designers like Dries van Noten (shaggy coat with green detail) and Tom Dixon (cushions).
The western influences are also translated into a more modern look. Shapes are cleaner and with a more neutral colour palette. Embroidery and patchwork are applied in contemporary design and can be easily translated to home textiles. Rattan plays an important role and is used in many home collections.
The Fall 2018 runway shows had many collections with a Western style approach. Fringes in all kind of colours and lengths were already there, as well as macrame wall hangings, but the theme is ready to be explored further. The techniques of quilting, and weaving, next to the print and pattern possibilities (esp. Navajo) are almost endless.