The Future of Interior Design Is Soft and Squiggly

As we approach the one-year mark of the pandemic, many of us are looking for tranquil spaces to retreat to—our own personal playgrounds, adorned with soft pastel hues, playful squiggles, gentle wobbles, and organic blobs in interior design.

In 2021, interior designers anticipate that the prevailing trend in decor will revolve around “comfort.” Casual, well-loved spaces will supplant the mid-century modern aesthetic. This shift encourages flexibility and an aesthetic that embraces vibrant colors and unconventional shapes.
As our days blend together, we seek engaging indoor diversions rather than the plain furniture we acquired from Ikea. Frontline worker Kaitlin Spring, a nurse anesthetist during the pandemic, expressed her desire to transform her home into a tranquil retreat where she and her family can unwind and take a break from the demands of the hospital. Her residence in upstate New York is adorned with vibrant colors, rounded designs, and checkered patterns reminiscent of the 1970s. Chat

The Future of Interior Design Is Soft and Squiggly
The Future of Interior Design Involves Soft Curves and Organic Shapes

During the pandemic, Jazmin Feige and Matias Gonzalez, long-distance partners and industrial designers, co-founded Bougie Woogie as a side project. This lighthearted home accessories brand emphasizes functionality and features organic, curvy shapes that aim to soothe the spirit, according to Feige. With hashtags like “squiggly,” “wavy,” and “blob” on Instagram, Bougie Woogie attracts customers seeking whimsical home items, offering an escape from the seriousness of the world for their generation.

Shontelle Hyslop, creator of mirrors sold under the name Lotta Blobs, stated, “I firmly believe that the use of color and unconventional shapes in contemporary spaces is a natural extension of this generation.”

The recent resurgence in interior design draws heavily from Italian Radicalism and postmodernism, particularly the influential architect Ettorre Sottsass, who founded the Memphis Milano Group. This movement, also known as the era of “bad taste,” departed from the norms of mid-century modern interior design by incorporating unconventional shapes and abstract patterns. While short-lived, it continues to influence interior designers, inspiring them to embrace unconventional aesthetics and break free from traditional design principles. “I find inspiration in the Memphis movement and its radical approach to design, rejecting the constraints of modernist design,” expressed one designer. By introducing unusual shapes and abstract patterns, this movement—also referred to as the “bad taste era”—broke from the conventions of mid-century modern interior design.

Over time, trends undergo a cycle of renewal to fit the current era. Presently, the emerging squiggly aesthetic has given rise to custom-made items that thrive on social media, embodying a blend of minimalism and maximalism. While our foundation is rooted in minimalism, we relish the freedom to innovate within its parameters. We also admire the functional concepts found in Scandinavian design. Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, interior designers from 2LG Studio, express their affinity for integrating favored elements from various styles to create designs that resonate with them. Their work is characterized by vibrant color schemes and harmonious shapes.

Many interior designers participating in the new wave embrace the idea that minimal aesthetics and colorful, whimsical interiors can coexist, dispelling the myth that they are nemeses. Scandinavian interior stylist Kristina A. Rasmussen expressed a desire for minimalist design to move beyond the stereotype of a stark white room’, emphasizing that it is possible to achieve individual and colorful looks while still adhering to minimalistic design principles.

BAINA skillfully blends minimalistic sophistication with a hint of whimsy, much like the towel brand that Bailey Meredith and Anna Fahey launched. The duo introduced their brand with a chic checkered towel that quickly gained popularity. Reflecting on their initial design, the designers expressed surprise at the sudden surge in demand for the checkerboard pattern, which they originally envisioned as a timeless and lighthearted print akin to classic stripes, evoking nostalgia for many. Their newest creation, drawing inspiration from the Sottsass Ultrafragola mirror, features a gentle ivory hue with flowing, curved lines throughout.

According to Alan Hedge, a professor at Cornell University specializing in Design and Environmental Analysis, there is a psychological basis for our preference for unconventional shapes and soft color palettes. He explains that our visual comfort typically lies in mid-tones rather than extreme black and white, making them less straining to the eyes. Similarly, curved shapes are more appealing due to their resemblance to natural, organic forms, in contrast to rigid, rectangular designs.

Meanwhile, Cailee Rae Betrus, the mind behind Fuugly’s freeform, puddle-shaped mirrors, emphasizes her spontaneous approach to design. She never traces over anything, and even closes her eyes when she feels the need for unrestricted and judgment-free creativity.
Crafted exclusively for them,” she remarks.

Taking care of our inner well-being has become increasingly important as we face challenges in the world around us. Redecorating our living spaces has become a way to reclaim a sense of control that may have been lost over the past year. Just as children express themselves through doodles in a blank notebook, the introduction of soft colors and shapes into our surroundings comes naturally to us, offering the promise of comfort.

To create an effective layout, the interior designer must consider accessibility standards, fire escape routes, and minimum room dimensions. There is extensive literature detailing appropriate dimensions for different types of spaces. Ernst Neufert’s book “Architects’ Data,” first published in 1936, compiles best practices for dimensions of various spaces, from industrial kitchens to train cars. However, as cities become denser and properties more costly, micro-apartments and tiny houses are challenging these minimum standards, demonstrating that rules can be thoughtfully bent. The key is to understand the space and its users’ needs in order to propose a functional design.

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It is the responsibility of the designer to guarantee that the selected choices will enhance the everyday functionality of the space while ensuring they do not compromise essential elements like circulation.”

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