The Big Trend: The New Neutrals
January 11, 2018
January 1, 2017
January 2017 and something of a seismic aesthetic shift is occurring in interiors. The Scandinavians may have long dominated the pages of homes magazines with their clean and serene chic, white walls, wooden furniture and playful way with art and objets, but no more. Action and reaction dictates that change is the only constant and, as such, contrast is coming, soon. And it is warm, rich and really rather wonderful.
I believe this change in mood is also to do with the current state of the nation. When the world feels like a rather contrary, reactive, illogical place, what we want, if not need, from our homes takes on ever more resonance; in this case the notion of home as our safe place, personal sanctuary and reprieve from all of the madness. Thus, it seems entirely logical to me that a new sense of interiors bravery emerges, along the lines of: when everything seems to be spiralling out of control, do within one’s walls as one will.
The New Modern, as I am calling it, is epitomised by the work of designers such as the Milan-based Dimore Studio, a partnership between Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran. Their work is full of texture; opulence and jewel colours reign supreme. Metallics are used with abandon alongside lustrous stones, clashing patterns and lacquer. It’s fun, but it’s also quality and designed to last.
Take too the Lalit London, a new hotel near London’s Tower Bridge and the first in this country from the Indian-owned Lalit Suri Hospitality Group. It is a 180-year-old Grade II-listed building and former boys school, lovingly (and very expensively) restored. It boasts a grand hall for its main restaurant, replete with ornately carved, wooden balustraded balconies and a deep azure blue ceiling. They could have toned down the wooden panelling, knocked back the colour of the roof, and scrimped on some of the plasterwork. But they didn’t. Every detail has been faithfully replicated and the shade of blue was painstakingly matched to archive photographs.
Or let’s nip now to Paris, where architect Joseph Dirand has made a name for himself with his refined take on opulence. He makes homes that respect yet play with the elegance of typically Parisian apartments, decorated, as they often are, with original panelling, elaborate plastered ceilings and ornately parqueted floors. These are obviously features to retain, but Dirand pairs them with brass trims, coloured marble (very much the material of the moment) and velvet (in on-trend green) as seen in Monsieur Bleu.
What links the work of these three examples is that they all revel in the possibilities of interior design. They show no fear of coloured furniture, fabric or finishes. Velvet drapes are a joy, ornate patterns a must, clever stealth-wealth details the norm (think coloured glass, exotic flourishes and vintage mirroring), and texture is king.
Some high-street stores have suggested that The New Modern is a throwback to the 1970s. I think to say this is to miss the larger point. Superficially it may seem to be true – look at the renaissance of brown for fashion and furnishings – but the home style signature of the 70s had a lot to do with a reaction to the pop’n’plastic flavour of the 60s, followed by the harsh reality of the oil crisis, which, by default, prompted a new design language. After all, you can’t do plastic if there’s no oil. As such, there was a heavy dose of make do and make-it-yourself about this era.
In contrast, this 2017 version of The New Modern is very much ‘get-a-professional-in-to-do-it’. This stuff is hard to get right. It requires forethought, experience and attention to detail. When you’re working with hand-painted wallpapers, marble, onyx, lacquers and leathers, you really need to know what you’re doing. Crucially, this is as far away from weekend makeovers as it is possible to get.
In conclusion, The New Modern 2017 is a joyful celebration of the home. Far from playing it safe in
a time of uncertainty, this is the moment to be bold and brave; to showase individuality. Certainly,
for me, home is something of an interiors playground. It is where I am at complete liberty to try out new things, experiment with paint, dye my sheets just because I feel like it, and test products such as mirroring spray (who knew!). The slow down in house prices has contributed to this new mood too, because people have been pushed into getting creative and improving not moving. Extensions, loft conversions, side-return roofovers, the installation of Crittall windows and expanses of glass at the back of our homes are all on the up as epitomised by new TV shows like Channel 4’s Inside Out Homes.
That said, often people don’t need more space, they just need less stuff. So here’s to more colour, pattern, texture and fun at home, hand in hand with a fantastically good clear out!
First published in the Spring/Summer Trends edition of ELLE Decoration UK, January 2017.
Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.