Happy de­sign

ELLE Dec­o­ra­tion’s Ben Spriggs on the new mood of ex­u­ber­ance and why it’s time to ditch bor­ing, bland dé­cor

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

Bright colours, clash­ing prints and ex­per­i­men­tal tex­ture! In­tro­duc­ing the new mood of ex­u­ber­ance, and why it’s time to ditch bor­ing dé­cor

Mono­chrome and near-end­less shades of off-white were once the main­stays of con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior de­sign; the sub­tle, safe, fade-into-the-back­ground can­vas on which to build a mod­ern dec­o­rat­ing scheme. But things are chang­ing. We’re now search­ing for looks with more punch and per­son­al­ity. Think bright, bold pal­ettes, stop-youin-your-tracks pat­tern clashes and unusual tex­tures. It’s what we’re calling ‘Happy De­sign’, and it’s the fu­ture!

Over re­cent sea­sons, there has been a shift in peo­ple’s views on vi­brancy in the home. Back in our Fe­bru­ary is­sue, we talked about the rise of the ‘New Neu­trals’ – pale yet in­ter­est­ing shades, such as li­lac and rose, were tak­ing over from the beiges and mag­no­lias of old. This was just a start. Now we want ➤

po­tent com­bi­na­tions that thrill and ex­cite. Dull and un­der­stated just won’t cut it, so we’re see­ing a new-found joy in Klein blue, rasp­berry pink, sher­bet lemon and emer­ald green com­bined in a kalei­do­scopic ca­coph­ony of colour.

The turn­ing point came dur­ing last Septem­ber’s Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val, with fash­ion de­signer Pe­ter Pilotto’s takeover of a Kens­ing­ton town­house (see pre­vi­ous page) – he won as many plau­dits for the ex­per­i­men­tal dé­cor as he did for his in­tri­cately em­broi­dered clothes. The walls, floors and fur­ni­ture came in an ar­ray of pis­ta­chio, parma vi­o­let, burnt orange and cerulean blue. Col­lab­o­ra­tion was key, with Pilotto util­is­ing ex­clu­sive pieces from artist and de­signer friends to shape this new aes­thetic, such as stools by Martino Gam­per and rugs by Max Lamb.

Since then, the de­sign world has be­come ob­sessed with this brand new dy­namic ap­proach to in­te­ri­ors. Take UK de­signer Bethan Laura Wood’s colour­ful, geo­met­ric in­stal­la­tion at this year’s Mi­lan Fur­ni­ture Fair ( be­low), packed with clash­ing hues and prints. Or look to Doshi Le­vien’s fabrics for Kvadrat and out­door fur­ni­ture for Ket­tal, as well as Ben­jamin Hu­bert’s ‘Tape’ sofa for Moroso. All these projects and pieces are packed with hu­mour and en­ergy. None of them kitsch or con­trived, yet all in­tended to chal­lenge ideas of taste and to pro­voke de­bate.

Her­itage brands are get­ting in on the act, too. The bril­liantly unique re­vival of Gucci’s home line, de­signed by Alessan­dro Michele, fea­tures a range of em­broi­dered vel­vet cush­ions with mo­tifs as di­verse and con­found­ing as tigers, blooms and teddy bears. Opened in 1837, fash­ion house Her­mès re­cently proved its en­dur­ing sense of fun and grasp on the zeit­geist by launch­ing luxe leather roller skates and a surf­board cov­ered in its in­tri­cate pat­terns.

Un­doubt­edly, our re­cent sense of care­free aban­don when dec­o­rat­ing has some link to the un­cer­tain times we now find our­selves liv­ing in. Af­ter all, in a world filled with po­lit­i­cal tur­moil, fi­nan­cial strife and ter­ror­ist threats, surely it’s bet­ter to be in a space that puts a spring in our step and a smile on our faces. Of course, striv­ing for pos­i­tiv­ity is noth­ing new, and it’s no co­in­ci­dence that cur­rent looks give more than a nod to those of the 1970s and 80s – an­other tu­mul­tuous pe­riod that gave rise to the ge­nius of de­signer David Hicks and the bright, Post­mod­ern works of the Mem­phis Group.

Cru­cially, the way to work this trend in your own home is to start small and then layer dif­fer­ent el­e­ments into the mix. Colour is im­por­tant, so this is very much the time for com­bin­ing paint, wall­pa­per and fabrics coura­geously. Accessories are also key, so add peppy pieces for an in­stant mood lift.

Don’t for­get, you can find in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery­where. In­te­rior de­sign­ers are a great re­source as they have a nat­u­ral feel for this brave and gutsy ap­proach. For­mer fash­ion de­signer and now in­te­ri­ors ex­pert Matthew Wil­liamson re­cently com­pleted a suite at Mal­lorca’s Bel­mond La Res­i­den­cia ho­tel (right), which show­cases his trade­mark lively colour choices and play­ful fauna and flo­ral pat­terns. It is ‘Happy De­sign’ brought to life spec­tac­u­larly.

Re­mem­ber, taste is sub­jec­tive and pos­i­tiv­ity has power, so be ready to har­ness hap­pi­ness when it comes to dec­o­rat­ing your home. Life is short, so you may as well make it as colour­ful and as joy­ful as pos­si­ble. Smile!


De­signer, pot­ter and au­thor Jonathan Adler on why there’s no place like a ‘Happy’ home It all comes back to The Wiz­ard of Oz. We seem to have a masochis­tic im­pulse to find our own Wicked Witch of The West; some­one to tell us that what we’re do­ing in our homes is wrong, wrong, wrong. Ed­i­tors, stylists, dec­o­ra­tors – these witchy style wankers (ex­cept, of course, the good peo­ple of ELLE Dec­o­ra­tion, who are re­ally quite lovely) have con­trolled the nar­ra­tive for too long. Malev­o­lent dic­ta­tors, they’ve show­ered us with images of unattain­able lux­ury.

So let me be your benev­o­lent leader, your Wiz­ard of Oz (al­though I like to think I’m a more dash­ing ver­sion. Watch the movie – that wiz­ard was no oil paint­ing). I be­lieve your house should be as bright and colour­ful as a Ra­jasthani bazaar. The knowl­edge you need to cre­ate a hip, happy home is in­side you, but maybe you need a wiz­ard to un­leash it. So, here are my W of O- themed tips… FOL­LOW YOUR HEART If you love it, it will work. I be­lieve that ev­ery ob­ject in your manse should mean some­thing to you. When I look around my apart­ment, I re­mem­ber why I made that blue Per­spex hand-shaped bowl (it’s a long story) or the fab­u­lous trip to Den­mark dur­ing which I picked up the bril­liant Bjørn Wi­in­blad chal­ice that sits on my man­tel­piece. Sen­ti­men­tal­ity is cool.

YOU HAVE A BRAIN, SO USE IT Your home’s dé­cor tells the story of you, so what’s your story? Are you an in­tel­lec­tual art con­nois­seur? If so, cre­ate an all-mar­ble foyer in your flat and plonk an Ashley Hicks ‘Totem’ sculp­ture right in the mid­dle of it. A so­cialite glam­our­puss? I want to walk through your door and see mir­rors on all your walls. A louche Soho House habitué? Use a stocked bar cart from Soane Bri­tain as a ta­ble at the end of your sofa. Think of dec­o­rat­ing as a per­sonal brand­ing ex­er­cise.

COURAGE, FRIEND! A happy home is a con­fi­dent home. Your guests should visit your abode know­ing that they are en­ter­ing the lair of a brave dec­o­rat­ing lion or li­on­ess. Jar­ring vis­ual jux­ta­po­si­tions – a gi­ant Gae­tano Pesce rub­ber foot in the guest loo of your coun­try pile, a mar­ble-ef­fect Rosi de Ruig lamp­shade on your Granny’s stan­dard lamp, a li­brary painted in Far­row & Ball’s ‘Hague Blue’ with House of Hack­ney wall­pa­per on the ceil­ing – all tele­graph your style cre­den­tials.

Got it? Heart, brain, courage. Fol­low my tips, click your ruby slip­pers three times, and you’ll be in your happy home. What re­ally mat­ters – the one thing that never goes out of style – is you.


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