ELLE Decoration’s Ben Spriggs on the new mood of exuberance and why it’s time to ditch boring, bland décor
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.
‘YOUR GUESTS SHOULD KNOW THAT THEY’RE ENTERING THE LAIR OF A BRAVE DECORATING LION OR LIONESS’