The idea of a comfortable home is nothing new but the trends for 2013 are fresher and more optimistic. Tough economic times usually produce some of the greatest innovations in how we live and the products we buy – industrial designers are forced to consider the cost of their creations. The result is the democratization of design – better products at lower prices.
Trends in interior design usually have a longer life than trends in something like fashion. There is a lot going on with trends at the moment so we will try to decipher between what is a fad – here today, gone tomorrow – and a trend, something that will endure and have a much longer life. It’s okay to buy a tie or scarf in the colour of the year (emerald for 2013) and it would be okay to buy an accent piece like napkins or a pillow, but most of us wouldn’t pick a colour that will only last a year or season for investment pieces like a rug or a sofa.
As designers we work with everything in a home, from construction materials all the way down to toothbrush holders. We’ll walk through our trends from foundational items like flooring, cabinets and finishes (which are usually involved in a larger renovation project) to the finishing details like fabrics and furnishings.
Whether on floors, furniture or millwork, woods are more tactile. Open grains, oiled finishes, natural colours. We’ll continue to see a lot of driftwood coloured and mid-toned flooring, but rooms will mix warmer woods with them. We used sandblasted douglas fir for the millwork in this kitchenette in a the private retreat in Whistler. What I love about this trend is that from seeing and touching the textures of the wood you get a sense of the story of the wood and that it was a tree not so long ago. All of this makes a space feel richer and more authentic. The clients wanted their condo to feel like a modern retreat, but one that felt more like a cabin where things aren’t so precious. As the wood patinas over time, the story of their personal retreat just gets richer.
Sandblasted douglas fir in Crabapple Drive Retreat
Christian Woo walnut cutting board available at Provide Home
Brass, Copper & Stone
Natural materials are being used in new and unexpected ways. This isn’t the brass from the 1980’s where every cabinet knob and door handle had a shiny brass finish that eventually chipped off. Todays brass and copper are the real thing, often brushed they have the feeling of real, honest metal. This is a reaction to the years of shiny, lacquered finishes that didn’t tend to hold up that well – because they’re natural these ones just get better with age.
This lamp from Castor marries a lot of the trends in one piece of furniture. Raw steel, brushed brass and a simple slab of marble as the base. We also see stone in in unexpected places like these Quarry lamps by Benjamin Hubert. We loved how they worked over the kitchen island in our Selkirk Estate project. The client wanted a modern, casual take on traditional french country. The stone went well with the more traditional french country inspiration while the polished surface and unexpected use as a lampshade helps give the space a modern edge.
As housing prices take up more of our income the trend is going to continue that Canadians adapt to smaller homes. The open concept of kitchen, dining and living rooms all in one space is a great thing for any sized space but what we notice in smaller spaces is that the kitchen often overpowers and you end up feeling like you’re in the kitchen even when you’re sitting on the sofa. We’re at the beginning of this trend but we will begin to see a movement towards quieter kitchens – where things like the fridge and pantry aren’t just concealed as cabinets, but tall cabinets are concealed as a wall. The kitchen island will feel more like a piece of furniture, making sitting on the sofa a much more relaxing experience.
Minotti Cunia who designs kitchens in Italy takes it to the extreme by designing kitchens that become silent when not in use.
Just like when we’re at a hotel, the bathroom is a place we associate with relaxing and pampering ourselves. Even in our smaller spaces bathrooms will get a bit bigger and fittings will take on a feeling of furniture. The sculptural tub we used in a Yaletown loft really invites you to grab a glass of wine or a book and escape for a while.
Yaletown Bachelor Pad
Just like having a smart phone, we are all moving in the direction of having smart homes (and even controlled from our iPhones). LED technology has come a long way and designers everywhere are excited – we no longer have to make a compromise between great light quality or the lower energy consumption of CFLs (which we didn’t ever like because of the blue vibrating light and the challenge to use with dimmers). Philips is the industry leader and continues to win awards for it’s wide range of lightbulbs that work in our existing lamps and light fixtures – they have bulbs for candelabras, globes, recessed ceiling lights like the MR16 and GU10 bulbs used in modern construction and the larger PAR sizes used ten or so years ago. Most of the bulbs are dimmable (a must for designers), they last for over 20 years and they are completely recyclable. Every light in this Gastown Loft is fitted with a Philips LED bulb.
Programable controls for heating and lighting used to either be super expensive or super unattractive. Technology has come a long way and we now have products like the Nest learning thermostat available in Canada. It learns the rhythm of your day so the temperature is where you want it when you want it there. In winter it will heat up for your alarm goes off and turn off before you leave for work. And it’s controllable from your smart phone. Saving energy in this way reduces our power bills and makes exiting infrastructure go further.
Nest Learning Thermostat
Knits & Wovens
Fabrics will follow the trends in fashion – chunkier knits, lots of texture and of course mixing up textures in new ways.
Missoni Manuel Throw available through Provide
Slight imperfections add character and give items a sense that someone used their hands to make it. Anything that has a story feels more enduring and passes the test of time. Blown glass, natural materials, and hand knit pillows. These pillows from Zuzunaga are handmade just outside Barcelona where most of the employees are people with disabilities. While much of Spain is struggling and losing manufacturing jobs this company is thriving.
Zuzunaga handwoven cushion available at Provide
Bell Table by Classicon – hand blown glass combined with metal
Special thanks to Philips, Provide Home, Inform Interiors and Nest Learning Thermostats for helping us pull this together for our trends segment on The Rush with Mike and Fiona on the Shaw Network. And to Roden Gray for styling us for the shoot.