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2022 in interior design – and what’s next in 2023?

Effect Magazine’s Dominic Lutyens looks back over 2022 in design, and examines the themes and trends that are emerging on the horizon for 2023

What happened in design in 2022?

Rethinking the layout of our homes
When predicting 2022’s design trends this time last year, it was impossible to ignore the pandemic’s influence on new ways of living and working and their impact on interior design. One consequence of COVID-19 was rethinking the layout of our homes: we began to reconsider open-plan living and exchanging it for more compartmentalised spaces – even though this ran counter to a long-established preference among homeowners for open spaces, which looked more contemporary and appealed as large areas where families or housemates could hang out together. But with many working from home and attending online meetings, household members required more private, separate spaces to avoid disturbing others (even if this involved improvising with room dividers or curtains rather than making major structural alterations).

READ: 5 key interior design trends of 2022

Inevitably, sustainability was another key trend. As an issue that’s taken ever more seriously, it would be more accurate to describe it as a perennial concern, with architects and designers increasingly factoring it in as integral and necessary to the design process. In terms of consumer habits, some noted that buying well-crafted, long-lasting furniture and homeware – which customers could grow attached to and pass on to future generations – was implicitly sustainable and so should be encouraged.

Further evidence of this was a growing demand for natural, sustainable furnishing fabrics. More generally, a taste for eclecticism among younger designers, who love delving into the past for inspiration and mixing old furniture with contemporary design reinforced this trend.

Biophilic design
A parallel trend was the burgeoning popularity of biophilia. This, too, looks set to stay in view of the urgent need to combat climate change and encourage biodiversity with so many species declining and facing extinction.

A hand-painted aesthetic
That said, conventional consumerism hasn’t gone away. There was a trend for expressive, hand-painted homeware – notably wallpapers and fabrics that rejected ordered symmetrical patterns in favour of loose spontaneous mark-making. But arguably, these also relate to a concern for sustainability as consumers are attracted to unique products made using specialist skills that they are more likely to treasure for years.  

Morro sofa designed by interior designer Kelly Wearstler in Effect Magazine
A desire for simplicity was manifested by a trend for Japanese-inspired, low-level seating, as with this Morro sofa designed by interior designer Kelly Wearstler

More minimalism – but with some opulence
Seen in the round, consumer trends for 2022 seemed to pull into two directions. There was a yearning for pared-down purity on the one hand and richness and opulence on the other. A desire for simplicity was manifested by a trend for Japanese-inspired, low-level seating – a style that was last seriously in vogue in the minimalist-loving 1990s, with its uncluttered, calming spaces nodding to Zen Buddhism. Yet there was also a mini-trend for richly colourful, neo-Edwardian fringed lampshades and for colourful free-form rugs.

Spring/summer trends: outdoor furniture, retro rattan and mushroom lamps
Spring/summer saw a trend for outdoor furniture that aimed to be indistinguishable from indoor furniture. This allowed homeowners to extend their living room seamlessly into their garden in a very stylish way. Somewhat more whimsical was the appearance everywhere of cute mushroom-shaped lamps – a throwback to the 1970s, as was Danish company Gubi’s timely reissuing of late Italian designer Gabriella Crespi’s elegant rattan-framed furniture, first designed in 1972.

Autumn/winter trends: borders, textured timber and mid-tones
Autumn/winter trends suggested a yearning for cosiness and warmth, with hints of traditionalism. We witnessed a surprise revival of the wallpaper border. The last time these were in fashion was in the 1980s, when they tended to be used to coordinate with wallpapers and so were more cosmetic and purely decorative. Designers reviving them now assert that today’s versions are different and chiefly used to highlight a room’s architectural features, such as framing doorways. This impression was reinforced by vogues for textured timber, minimalism softened by organic materials and a preference for cream not white as well as mid-tone paint colours for the home (think shades like fawn or sky blue) – a new departure from the dark, moody paint colours that have proved so popular for years.

What will happen in design in 2023?

Designers will continue to explore the possibilities of sustainable design. One emerging trend is for furniture made of paper or paper pulp – although it’s not obvious that it’s made of it.

The new paper-furniture vogue
Paper furniture has its precedents: Peter Murdoch designed his ultra-pop, 1964 chair made offolded cardboard emblazoned with polka dots as part of the 1960s pop movement thatglorified transience and disposability. In the 1970s, architect Frank Gehry created his Easy Edges seating fashioned from corrugated cardboard and fibreboard. Last year, David Horan expanded this tradition of elevating humble paper to aesthetically pleasing objects with his parcel-paper brown furniture collection made by layering paper, informed by the French découpage technique and Japanese Mingei movement.

Then there is the more sculptural, rough-textured furniture of American-born B.C. Joshua. “The pulp I use is made from a mixture of recycled newspaper and recycled gypsum powder derived from ground plasterboard,” he says. “I began working with it at graduate school during the pandemic as I was reconsidering the waste around me and starting to look at it as a material resource.”

The sculptural, rough-textured furniture of BC Joshua
The sculptural, rough-textured furniture of BC Joshua (photo courtesy of Material Matters)

B.C. Joshua continues: “Newspapers are often made of recycled paper and end up in landfill because the paper can no longer be recycled through an additional cycle. My goal was to find another use for it, and that’s when I started using it as a material to create my furniture. There is a demand for new materials that reuse waste because people are becoming more aware of the items that surround them and starting to change how they consume and purchase.”

Tubular furniture and homeware
Rather different to this example of sustainable design is a trend for tubular furniture and homeware, surely a development of the vogue two years ago for curved contours found in interior design and furniture. The main difference between the two is that the new tubular design doesn’t take up so much space: it is linear and so less imposing. American designer Kelly Wearstler’s new Nudo collection, launched at Miami Art Week 2022, epitomises the trend – well, at its most high-end and monumental.

This pays homage to the ancient craft of weaving. The representation of a soft material – yarn – in hard marble is a paradox Wearstler acknowledges: “With these designs, I was deeply interested in exploring the possibility of creating a real softness through curvaceous shapes within the fortitude of marble.” 

Flamboyant bathrooms
If bathrooms boasting acres of marble and gold taps were once derided as, well, a little vulgar, today they are reaching new heights of jazzy, ritzy glamour in more imaginative ways. Designer Luke Edward Hall was one pioneer of the trend when he created the bathrooms of Paris’s Hôtel Les Deux Gares in a style that boldly reimagined Art Deco with eau-de-nil sanitaryware idiosyncratically paired with mustard wall tiles.

Meanwhile, interior design studio Goddard Littlefair also paved the way for the trend with its bathroom – which we imagine was also Art Deco-inspired – for its London penthouse project, Casson Square. This features a bold black-and-white-tiled floor and a shower unit with gold tiles reminiscent of cascading water. Meanwhile a bathroom dreamt up by Alex Holloway, co-founder of London-based design consultancy Holloway Li, for his own apartment boasts a resin shower screen, backlit by a window that illuminates the bathroom space with a zingy tangerine hue.

Home bars
2023 could also be the year of the home bar, judging by the growing number we’ve spotted. “Home bars are increasingly popular with our clients now choosing to host from the comfort of their homes,” says Clara Ewart, head of design at interior design studio Kitesgrove. “Their popularity stems from their versatility and you don’t need a big budget or masses of space to create one.” She advises painting the wall behind a built-in bar’s joinery the same colour for a more sleek effect.

Home bar by Kitesgrove interior design consultancy in Effect Magazine
“Home bars are increasingly popular with our clients,” says Clara Ewart of interior design consultancy Kitesgrove, as seen here in their Crescent Place, Chelsea project

The new Chinoiserie
Finally, one burgeoning trend offering opulence and a feeling of luxury – perhaps as an antidote to our relentlessly turbulent times – is a contemporary homage to Chinoiserie. This  European, exuberant interpretation of Chinese and other East Asian traditions originated in the 17th century. One designer today whose work revisits Chinoiserie is Gergei Erdei. His plates, cushions and place mats feature or reference pagodas, bamboo, ornate palm trees and Chinoiserie-inspired tiger prints.

He says the trend partly springs from a current nostalgia for the 1990s, in particular for fashion designer John Galliano’s spectacular outfits influenced by Chinoiserie. “I’ve also seen the style re-emerge recently in hospitality projects,” he says, adding: “The Chinoiserie elements in my latest collection were inspired by the style of [American artist and set designer] Tony Duquette’s home. He layered lavish tiger-patterned jacquards with Chinoiserie and European antiques to create an exuberant look.”

Read more: Interiors | Trends | Design Fairs | Restaurants | Living Rooms | Dining Rooms | Bathrooms  | Sustainable Design | Biophilic Design | Design