The Big Trend: The New Neutrals
January 11, 2018
February 25, 2018
While The New Neutrals is for sure the BIG trend that’s gone straight from ‘concept’ to high-street, there are six other trends that I’m predicting will bubble up with force this year. Which means six other things that will inevitably seep into your consciousness and end up being writ large over all of our homes by the end of the year
I first nailed my colours to the mast on this issue back in October 2017 in this post Trend Tracking 2017 – 2018 and naturally there’s always a moment afterwards when you wonder if you’ve actually got it right. But, a quartile on, I’m pretty convinced I have, so I’ve added in some detail, a few additional references and those all important mood boards!
But how do I know I’m right, I hear you cry? Well, because my thing is to be constantly joining the dots. I take in all the new launches that piqued my interest at various trade shows, the passing references and the context of the prevailing cultural stimulate. Then I sort of jiggle it all around in my head until I start to feel/see patterns forming as the big trends generally evolve quite fluently, and trackably, from season to season (have a look at these two posts to see what I mean: Trend Tracking 2016 – 2017; and Trend tracking 2017 – 2018), in other words, one begets the next in a continual process of action and reaction, responding according to what’s going on elsewhere. And then, of course, there are those delicious outliers — the people or brands that go completely against the zeitgeist, doing their own sweet thing with such utter dedication and conviction that it shouts to be noticed — these often crop up two or three seasons later when suddenly you find strands of their ‘madness’ has been assimilated into the mainstream.
Trend ‘prediction’ is hard to explain but at the end of the day it’s a combination of intuition and interpretation presented against the bigger picture of what else is going on in the world, because design doesn’t exist in a vacuum. One thing is for sure, my trend reports are never the result of receiving a bunch of sexy press releases.
The big one. Already seriously hot on the high street. And covered extensively here (click link). But here’s a lovely moodboard to remind you of the palette…
According to the powers that be at Dulux, sales of black paint are holding on through the rise and fall of many another hue, however I predict the end of the road for its usage on furniture and home accessories. I’ve often noted that the popularity of monochrome is a kind of bravery barometer for the nation’s interiors. In other words, when black and white abounds, the mood is caution and for playing it safe with the decorating decisions; conversely, when sales of this traditional look slump, it’s a sign that we’re collectively feeling open to something new. And so it is that although a crisp navy and fir green will stay around for a while (they mean something quite different to black), absolutist blanking-out black is on the wane. For furniture it’s about being able to see the grain, and for everything else, well why go black when you could have lavender?! See new neutrals. Caveat: the only exception to this is the use of Shou Sugi Ban, the Japanese art of charring wood to a fine black finish. This is going to rise and rise in popularity. Why? Because it accentuates the grain, is absolutely beautiful, and has that requisite touch of the ‘exotic’.
Gold, all yellow and shiny, we’re not supposed to like it are we? Brass, with its deeper, more honeyed hues, confers a sense of glamour and prestige, and both chrome and stainless steel are acknowledged as being ‘cool’ or ‘modern’. But gold, well that’s shorthand for bling and designer ostentation, isn’t it? Except, gold is everywhere at the moment! Most particularly on walls, as a new crop of prints and papers are re-coloured for a new season in glorious golden metallics; and for lighting, it is absolutely the finish of choice. So can it be that gold has finally come in from the cold? Yes. On the one hand it’s straightforward action and reaction as copper falls out of favour, but on the other it’s a quest for optimism as this noble metal has a colour that sings, shines and looks overtly happy. (You can read more here, and also see my hot picks of wallpapers, lights, and hardware.)
In the same breath as the rise and return of gold, and a further reflection of the rejection of black, is a sense of really throwing designerly caution to the wind. In a complete volte face to the New Neutrals, there is a burgeoning movement to take those retro colours and brighten, heighten and vibrantly mix and deliberately mismatch them. It’s jolly, it’s upbeat and it basically says, well if the world is going to hell in a handcart, then we will do as we damn well please in our homes because we’re living for the moment!
This is a straightforward evolution of the continuing love for precious stones, marvellous marbles, lush velvets and other exotic finishes in the home, that first emerged about two years ago (see The New Modern). However, now these materials are starting to come off the walls, and out of the haute-designer toolbox and be used for more utilitarian products. At the top end of the scale think pendants made from Alabaster (from Atelier Alain Ellouz), a material perfectly suited to this usage as it glows with an ethereal beauty. And on the high street, velvet has become the default upholstery of choice and marble has been democratised with it used for everything from pink marble hooks (£25) to doorstops (£68) at Anthropologie to furniture at West Elm, and marble’n’brass pots (£20), marble platters with blue Lapiz (only £60!) and bathroom sets at John Lewis.
Continuing directly on from the above, I predict too that its corollary will also emerge and take flight, ie a parallel interest in more ‘povera’ finishes. What do I mean by this? Materials like rattan, cork, plywood, sisal and hemp will come into their own, but the twist will be that they will be employed as if they were haute materials in the hands of master designers. In other words, rather than being looked down on as materials too lowly to be considered beautiful, their intrinsic texture, authenticity and tactility will be celebrated, and we’ll increasingly see them popping up where we least expect it ie within the Italian power houses; watch this space! Think of this as one steady step on from the New Naturals I mentioned in Trend Tracking 2016 – 2017. It also goes hand in hand with big trend to come, number seven, below.
Eco used to mean scratchy fabrics and wobbly pots that frankly should have saved themselves the bother of being made and instead be lobbed straight into the recycling bin. As for ecological homes, well that just meant houses built of straw and compost toilets didn’t it? But no more! Local authorities to smart early adopters around the UK, in a bid to create healthier homes for the future, are embracing the PassivHaus movement — a gold standard in the eco building world that, as they put it, promotes no expensive eco bling just a fabric first approach to building (shorthand for lots of insulation!). The reason for the increasing interest is quite simply that building this way is good for you, and as its less reliant on unsustainable fuel sources, good for the future of the planet too, plus the external architecture is getting a lot sexier too. And there are immediate homeowner dividends: comfortable internal temperatures whatever the weather, improved air quality, quieter homes so you sleep better, and bills that are on average 90% lower than average! What’s not to love.
Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends, wellbeing and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.