I just spend a couple of days walking around at Design San Francisco, the Spring market for the San Francisco Design center, and was intrigued at how we seem to be at a transition point in design. Change is in the air in a lot of ways: color is changing, the influences are changing, and our industry is changing.
Blush continues to look fresh as a soft accent color/neutral. I am not the most feminine colorist, I like strong and dark colors, but am enjoying other’s interiors that feature blush and coral. Navy and slate blue are both everywhere, used almost as a neutral to replace black and camel in neutral rooms. Yellow, tending to mustard, is a bright that continues into 2019. This color meshes well with the late 60s and ’70’s design inspiration, and with the strength of denim blues, from the Navy mentioned above, to the textural mid blues we were seeing everywhere in upholstery. Teal is a mini color trend, creating a retro ’80’s palette when combined with the blush pink and the brighter yellows. I feel like all of the neutral palette rooms are adding pops of color, and many rooms are going to strong colored palettes.
The ‘70s vibe has, to a large extent, replaced the MCM inspiration that has been ubiquitous in past years. It still feels stylish, and has brought with it a new interest in rustic and muscular ceramic pieces, including in tiles. The textures are unrefined, and natural. Think palm trees in baskets, Indian block prints, dip glazed pots, Curtis Jere welded wall sculptures, and brutalist inspired wooden furniture. In the mass market it is expressed in the bohemian Bungalow style, and in high end design in wonderfully handcrafted textiles, ceramic work, and rattan and bamboo.
Ethnic influences also are a component of this trend. I am excited to observe that Art Deco design is also big. This makes sense, because Art Deco was an influence on design back in the late 1970’s, so it pairs well with the ’70’s revival.
There seems to be some interest blooming in more layered, more traditional rooms, which I love. I am not a minimalist, at all, and loved the layered accessories in Scott Meacham Wood’s delightful space:
In hardware and lighting gold and brass are still strong. LED light sources have changed the design of lights, as the the designers can fit the source of light into a ribbon, a wafer, or inside of a tiny space, as this LED lit block of crystal.
Articulated lighting, both in wall sconces and chandeliers, also was a theme in the showrooms.
Quality furniture is better for the environment, because it does not get discarded as quickly. It does not lose it’s paper thin veneer, the joints on the furniture do not get wobbly, and the upholstery does not wear out. You experience is better, because the best features of the items last- the seating remains comfortable, the fabric wears well, the drawers continue to function, you feel that you are touching a solid and valuable piece of furniture.
Unique and handcrafted furnishings also are a wonderful antidote to the sameness that often results when shopping at retail outlets. Furniture and lighting designers are creating beautiful new shapes, and updating the traditional so that they feel fresh. Retail furniture wants to sell a large volume of products, so they are going to stick with design that appeals to the broadest taste. Sometimes it is nice to have one or two special pieces, that set the tone of the room. This amazing sconce is an example:
I am so lucky to live close to such a wonderful furniture design center, it is truly inspiring to see the exquisite materials available. I often think that the average homeowner, even the design fans, have know idea how much beautiful product exists in the world. A wander through The San Francisco Design center is enlightening, and I enjoyed spotting the trends and changes in the market.
High quality furnishings are more expensive than Overstock, West Elm, Wayfair or Pottery Barn. As consumers are watching home decorating shows, and shopping online, it becomes important for manufacturers and designers to be able to define and articulate what they bring to the table. I felt that there was a lot of conversation in showrooms, and amongst designers during this market week about the definition of value of design professionals and showroom quality furniture. The two significant characteristics that showroom furniture brings to design are encapsulated for me in two concepts: Quality and unique beauty.