Oval furniture is making sharp angles seem passe. The reign of white Carrara is giving way to many-coloured marbles. So long, grey. Hello, soft earth palettes. RIP bleached and whitewashed floors. Make way for warm floors underfoot. For 2020 people want a softer style of living with homes that feel a bit more cosy.
Longevity is in, throwaway culture is out.
Discerning homeowners are turning to places with soul. We chatted to retailers and designers for predictions on what’s trending and ending. Here are the design trends that are winning—and waning.
OUT: Throwaway Furniture
Even if chain-retailer prices are tolerable, it’s become less appealing to buy a bed or dresser thinking you’ll replace it in a few years. Longevity is in, throwaway culture is out. “The toll that disposable furniture takes on the environment has people looking at revitalizing old pieces, especially those with meaning,” says Rome-based designer Achille Salvagni, “No one wants to inherit that IKEA coffee table.”
IN: Pieces Worth Keeping
Discerning homeowners are turning to furniture with soul. There is a palpable shift toward collecting fewer but better things that represent shared experiences through real craftsmanship,” said Nicola Coropulis, CEO of Italian brand Poltrona Frau. Also gaining value: the history inherent in antiques and hand-me-downs.
“If it’s meaningful, find a place for it.”
OUT: Bleached and Whitewashed Floors
Blanched wood surfaces, a hallmark of Scandinavian and Modern Farmhouse styles, are fading. People worry that it will be too identifiable as ‘a look’ from this period and not stand the test of time. Also on the wane: the flooring materials that were part of the grey wave of the past five years. Grey woods have been reigning supreme for years, but we’re seeing a shift to warmer palettes.
IN: Warm Woods Underfoot
People want rooms that are a bit more cosy, with richer, darker colours. On the floor, that translates to walnut, mahogany and dark oak. There’s a tendency toward finishes with old-world charm. Honey-toned species like oak and maple contribute to a casual vibe, and since they pair nicely with warmer hues, the final look is not as faded out as that of bleached wood.
Yes, we confidently reported last year that the ubiquitous grey that charcoaled homes inside and out in 2018 was past its prime. Designers have tired of the sooty shade, but apparently the public hadn’t. As we close out the decade, the ‘cool grey everything’ style is finally (and thankfully) out for good. It’s like a gloomy winter day all year.
IN: Earth Tones
Four of the 16 colours in Farrow & Ball’s new Colour by Nature line are green. Farrow & Ball, credits the verdant trend to environmental awareness, while many designers mention olive green as part of an earthy, organic palette that includes chocolate brown, camel, deep reds, ocher and burnt orange.
OUT: Rigid Linearity
Hard, cold, “all-masculine spaces” are tired. 2020 is the year to shake, the tyranny of the straight line. The rise of linearity coincided with the flourishing of Facebook and Instagram. Images of stark, modern rooms flooded social media, and furniture followed suit with the rise of track arms and square frames.
IN: Softer Living
Moving away from the geometric shapes of the recent past, there was a strong emergence of softened corners, round legs, curved backs as many designers have introduced oval tables.
The trend can also be seen as a backlash to oppressive masculinity. We’re embracing the feminine touches and a soupçon of the romantic.
OUT: Colourless Stone
You know Carrara and Calacatta marble. They’re frequently mispronounced——as “Carrera” and “Calcutta.” Identified it as “veiny white marble”, white and grey marble had a very long and full life, but with oversaturation comes monotony. It can still have a part in your story, just don’t count on it to be the lead.
IN: Multicoloured Marble
Taking uneventful white stone’s place? Multicoloured geological wonders. Also crowding out Carrara and Calacatta are man-made materials. Expect to see porcelain and techno quartz over natural stone, even in high-end homes, thanks to the practicality and durability of it. It can mimic high-end materials at an attainable price.
IN: Multicoloured Marble
Taking uneventful white stone’s place? Multicoloured geological wonders. Also crowding out Carrara and Calacatta are man-made materials. Expect to see porcelain and techno quartz over natural stone, even in high-end homes, thanks to the practicality and durability of it. It can mimic high-end materials at an affordable price.
OUT: White Slipcovers
For a long time, [washable] cotton slipcovers were our best bet for white upholstery, so that it would not be destroyed by stains, York’s Vicente Wolf enumerated their shortcomings: “Cotton slipcovers are super high maintenance. They shrink, fade, stain and need to be pressed.” Slipcovers also typically have a loose, casual—almost sloppy—fit, which over time and several washings, become a ‘misfit.’”
IN: White Sofas
In 2020, the grey-upholstery trend will be replaced by white upholstery, driven by advances in performance fabric. The technology has created options that are as soft and stylish as a ‘regular’ non-performance fabric without a difference in price and they repel stains better than ever.
Now that performance fabrics include textures as soft as chenille, why do upholstery any other way?
OUT Over-The-Top Maximalism
It can overwhelm. The ornateness of maximalist design looked bewitching on Instagram but seemed cloying in real life. Acres of energetic textiles can be a lot to live with every day.
IN: Happy-Medium Design
The trend pendulum has settled at a liveable middle point. There’s a new admiration for modulation. Minimalism is starting to feel as cold as hours-old porridge. Simplicity can be too stark. The pattern appears in measured amounts, colours tend toward palatable pastels, traditionalism shows up in antiques covered with contemporary upholstery. Designers welcome idiosyncrasy but not to a chaotic degree. The overall effect is calming and modern.
The consumer may need re-educating. It’s not possible to be quite so precise and get exactly what you ask for with the new obsession with imperfection, materiality, sustainability and the rise of craft. Natural dyes tend to fade, like antique rugs. With anything handmade from natural materials, the beauty lies in imperfection of human touch and the evolving patina over time.
IN: Organic Luxury
Mushrooms. Turmeric, corn husks. No, not a vegan meal, but just a few of the raw ingredients designers are harvesting to form surfaces, textiles, objects and furniture, according to UK Elle Decoration’s latest February 2020 issue. “The interior world is responding to the climate crisis by reframing our relationship with nature. As intuitive problem-solvers, designers logically should be at the vanguard of material innovation. And in the process of gathering sustainable, bio-based waste materials for their work, they’re pioneering a new aesthetic, organic luxury.” It’s symptomatic of our growing obsession with the provenance of everything we consume (and utilise the earth’s resources in eco-friendly ways with minimal impact).