The technical term for design with nature as its focus, it seems we have never needed the healing power of nature more than now as it connects us to the natural world, even indoors. It can be as simple as embracing natural light or natural colour schemes, to a room full of house plants or a botanical-inspired wallpaper or cushion. The idea is that, wherever you are in your home, you’re connected in some way to the outdoors. Unsurprisingly, biophilic design embraces green colour schemes and takes its cues from organic shapes and materials, making it easy enough to incorporate into your home.
Muted terracotta, buttery blushes, dusky marigolds, sun-kissed clays — earthy neutrals have been percolating in a bid to create some comfort and safety at a time when everything feels so uncertain. Recognising our need to be reconnected with nature, paint companies like Dulux, who very often steer colour trends, have also recognised this need to connect us back to nature, revealing ‘Brave Ground’ — a soft earthy hue — as their Colour of the Year for 2021. We are very much in need of the kind of nourishing that nature can provide, and these soothing tawny tones go some way to grounding us while providing a calming effect. Comfort is a priority this autumn.
Big and bold is where it’s at in vases this season. No longer just a vessel for displaying flowers, the humble V-shaped vase has been redefined in every shape and size, with the power to transform a space as a standalone sculptural piece. Opting for a statement vase is an easy way to bring colour, texture and character to a room, regardless of whether you have flowers to display. Oversized designs, unusual shapes and bold colours are dominating, such as Raawii’s bright Strom vases, Folkster’s oversized papier mache vessel and Anissa Kermiche’s cheeky Love Handle vase, which makes a striking impression.
Dried flowers are back from the dead, predicted by online retail hub Trouva in 2019 and catapulted into the spotlight by chic Parisians Jeanne Damas and Marissa Cox who, in that inimitable French way, made dying thistles and everyday grasses look chic and glamorous on their Instagram feeds. In fact, the trend is so popular Etsy reported an increase of 93pc in searches for dried flowers, appealing to those who prefer a low-maintenance, eco-friendly approach to displaying their blooms. Instead of dusty, musty blooms, the internet is now awash with beautiful bouquets of florals and foliage appropriate for any season, giving those ‘fresh’ flowers wilting on your kitchen table a run for their money.
A year stuck at home offered many of us opportunities to get busy with our knitting needles and homemade clay — it was a way to find solace, keep busy and reconnect with the slowness of making, but with it came a greater appreciation for handcrafted items. The handmade look — that nubby handle on a mug, the imperfect curve of a vase, or the beautiful hand-finish on a table — is hard to replicate, requiring time, skill and artistry. It adds character to a space and is a much-needed departure from the identikit world of interiors towards a more conscious consumerism.
Furniture is having a sculptural moment. Curves are the new angles and organic shapes are replacing hard lines. The desire to soften our spaces and create calm sanctuaries within our homes is evident in furniture’s foray into unexpected shapes that create some quiet drama and comfort, from curvaceous couches and curling coffee tables that resemble breakfast pastries to wavy lamps and undulating chairs that could be mistaken for works of art.
On the flip side of all this need for calm is also the desire to make a statement (it must be all that time staring at the same four walls). Apparently the trend for bold wallpaper is hotter than ever — the result of people’s desire to be more adventurous in our personal design choices at home. The pendulum has swung from a more muted minimalism to maximalism, with wallpaper a sure way to express yourself. From Kelly Wearstler’s works of art to William Morris’s classic motifs, and Graham & Brown’s exotic patterns, wallpaper, by its very nature, is meant to be a statement, so don’t hold back and let the paper do the talking.
It’s fairly obvious what spawned this functional trend. Forced to redefine our homes as we jostled with family members and flatmates for space while being locked down, rooms that were formerly of singular use became dual-purpose. Cupboards became workstations, kitchen tables became classrooms, and room dividers became necessary accessories for creating some much-needed privacy. An enduring style for centuries, the folding screen is as practical as it is stylish, acting as a statement piece as well as a way to zone an area and conceal anything.
The rise of rattan, searches for which shot up 809pc during lockdown, is testament to our obsession with natural materials. We’ve already seen a shift in our desire to be closer to nature with the trend for plants and greenery in our homes. Tactile textures like bamboo, seagrass, rattan, wood and jute deliver on that same primal need to connect to something authentic and honest. There’s also the environmental factor as people become more aware of the damage their consumer choices make, with real consideration for the next generation. With so much out there, from recycled rugs to chic rattan sideboards and lamps, it’s never been easier to create a chic eco-conscious interior.
Warps and weaves, wools, bouclé, mohair, sheepskin — the cosseting fabrics an artisan’s loom is made of are all A/W interior staples. We’re demanding seriously comfortable surroundings as we hunker down this season, going beyond just furniture as designers push the textile boundaries to three-dimensional wall hangings as well as cosy-clad homewares. Perhaps it’s an antidote to a chaotic environment, or it may simply be the impossibly soft designs popping up, most notably bouclé and sheepskin, which have made their way into the likes of Gubi’s Stay Collection as well as five-star hotel rooms. Either way, there’s nothing like curling up on a sofa that feels like a sheep.
It’s commonly understood that every home looks better with some greenery on show, not to mention plants make great quarantine buddies — if you can keep them alive. In the past year, Instagram exploded with styled pictures of variegated leaves in pots. But there’s ‘roots’ (ahem) to the botanical boom: plants are thought to reduce stress levels by up to 40pc. They are the embodiment of health that we can savour every day and be inspired by. They remind us of the outdoors and a slower pace of life. They also make great gap fillers, add visual interest, colour and form, are versatile and inexpensive. And, even if you’re missing a green thumb, there’s plenty of very good aesthetic fake options.
This one goes beyond leopard print and celebrates the beauty of nature’s furry and feathered friends, sliding nicely up beside one of this year’s hottest trends: nature. But it might go further than that, to our desire to experience the energy of exotic lands and their climates, which we’re sorely missing. Homewares inspired by tropical jungles and zoological drawings from the 1800s are everywhere. There’s something joyful about seeing elephants, flamingos, lobsters and exotic birds on trays, or as wall hooks and lamp stands, adding something of a Darwinian charm to your home.
One of the responses to the pandemic has been a return to nostalgia in design terms, with vintage décor making a comeback. Vintage comes in many guises but, generally, it’s all about the lived-in look. People are realising the value of particular items and their related emotions. Antiques, repurposed, salvaged, mid-century, retro — we’re craving a more personal feel to our homes. Breaking out your grandmother’s old glassware or repurposing that shabby bedside table can often give it that unique look, while providing you with a sense of nostalgia and security. Irish companies Vintage Hub and Molly’s Vintage Vibe have well-curated pieces — the key is to reference the look as opposed to a blanket design. Use accent pieces and layer up.