Ready to explore one of the hottest trends for 2013? This month, trend forecaster Victoria Redshaw describes Fraction, a direct and angular look comprising interlocking shapes that attempts to instill a new order in our lives …
Having witnessed a period of deconstruction socially, financially and politically, we begin to put the parts back together again, often in unexpected formations. The fractions join to make a new whole, a new order – a New Normal! And this applies to furniture design just as much as it does to world order. The Fraction trend I want to share with you in this issue of Furniture News provides a platform to explore this New Normal.
Nothing is superfluous or excessive within this trend, and nothing is distracting. In the midst of an ever-complicated world, many opt for extreme unadorned, pared-down purity. Subdued, composed, controlled. There is a strong need for order, and stripped-back basics with an unspoken underlying complexity and luxury will answer many consumers’ yearnings for an honest aesthetic that delivers serenity and sincerity.
The style offers an escape to a minimalist, abstract environment where hand-crafted and machine-made products harmoniously co-exist, and where digital technology forges a refreshingly restrained relationship with centuries-old artisanal techniques.
A lack of unnecessary flourishes means we feel freed by the plainness and nourished by the visual warmth of materials as we find space and time to be still and contemplative.
This trend is discreet yet direct, logical yet complex, functional yet comfortable, detailed yet modest. A strong sense of wellbeing prevails as consumers seek out a visual directness from furniture and room schemes.
Many designers will embrace a Reductionist approach, understanding the interactions of the parts in order to appreciate the complex whole.
Greg Cox’s furniture pieces typify this theme of subtracting sections and re-inserting parts, resulting in an altered understanding of an object’s use.
Creatives are also attempting to view the world from many different perspectives, and this leads to a renewed interest in Cubist artworks – effectively breaking up, analysing, and re-assembling objects into abstracted forms as though observed from a multitude of viewpoints. This technique will emerge strongly in furniture design, with an investigation into complex abstracted surface patterns and structures.
Interlocking shapes and patterns are absolutely key to this trend, which has strong geometric and mathematical building blocks, enabling an investigation into modularity, mirroring and repetition. Many products are puzzle-like in their structure or surface pattern, and a huge focus on the construction of pieces makes this a fascinating new aesthetic.
Jasna Mujkic’s Umbra coffee table is a wonderful example. Made by joining tiny Penrose prototiles to create an abstract tree shape, the irregular construction nevertheless appears rational and ordered.
This trend also has strong Scandinavian overtones – think Finn Juhl furniture, pure forms, and smooth and compact finishes.
Once again we are pulled towards nature and natural materials in order to feel an almost primitive connection with our world and achieve an essential sense of wellbeing, utilising wood, stone, clay, leather, suede and cork. We see subdued colours of sand and cork, blonde wood tones and an abundance of brown – the keystone of the season – as well as calming blue and green, yellow ochre, red ochre and raw sienna along with subtle layers of flaking gold leaf.
Because of the plainness of this trend, surface textures are incredibly important and are crucial in revealing strong artisanal skills. Super-smooth wood appeals – think maple, solid oak, cherry wood and exotic veneers with pronounced grain and marquetry/parquet constructions, as in Lee Broom’s Parquetry coffee table.
Wood finishes are always extreme – either highly polished gloss or bare and raw. The fascination with skin-like surface finishes continues – think the Houdini chair by Stephan Diez. Perforated and drilled-through surfaces make an appearance. Embossed and debossed low relief patterns appeal in mono-neutrals, along with deep ribbed stripes.
For patterns, take inspiration from the Cubist paintings of Juan Gris and George Braque. Embrace Mondrian-esque grid compositions. Explore overlapping and interlinking geometrics – rectangles, circles, triangles and diamonds.
In Fraction, repetitions of small-scale geo motifs are key. Investigate the interlocking and repeating motif paintings of Peter Hugo McClure. Material blocking is key, and graphic typographical patterns play an important role too.
Its shapes comprise pure forms that are simple, smooth and solid. Though often angular, with pronounced references to geometry and mathematics, curvaceous shapes are also present – think Finn Juhl furniture.
Modular and self-assembly qualities allow consumers to interact with products, be creative and take ownership of the final stages of the design process.
Faceted qualities continue to be relevant – as in the Faceture series by Phil Cuttance. Pleated and accordion constructions also add interest to hard surfaces. Interlocking and offset sections give a disjointed and reassembled aesthetic, and some hard surfaces feature delightfully precise embroidered detail, communicating craftsmanship. Open latticed constructions and laser-cut detail continue.
Subdued interior schemes provide a moment of stillness in our hectic modern lives. Precise styling and extreme unadorned, pared-down purity delivers clarity and calmness. A serene certainty can be found by following the aesthetic rules of the New Normal.
Victoria Redshaw is a leading trend analyst at trend forecasting agency Scarlet Opus. For information on all of the trends from Scarlet Opus, join the members area on the company’s blog.