Design trends: Natural Appeal
The environmental impact of climate change is having a big influence on the way we choose to live our lives. In everything we do, we are increasingly aware of the consequences for the world that surrounds us. This behaviour is becoming particularly evident in industrial production processes, where the use of natural materials fits in with the new goals of reducing consumption and saving resources. Trend researchers believe that this process will intensify in the future. All manufactured goods will need to reach a state of harmony with nature and life cycles.
In the world of design, the green concept is assuming many different forms, all of which are worth exploring. The desire to find alternative resources that avoid causing further irreparable damage to the planet is driving experimentation with new materials that at least in part are capable of substituting wood, bark and textile fibres. Along with the increasingly sparing use of these natural raw materials, we are also seeing the development of objects made of different fibres and new forms of organic aggregates, all of which share an aesthetically appealing appearance. Considering the abundance of pine trees present in Europe, designer Tamara Orjola reflected on the fact that we only use the heartwood and throw away all the needles, equivalent to 25% of their biomass. With this in mind, she developed a process that uses crushing, soaking, carding, bending and pressing techniques to transform the needles into a fibre that she now uses to produce the furnishing textiles in the Forest Wool collection.
A very similar concept underpinned a series of furnishings presented at Maison & Objet in Paris last January. These consist of cushions, poufs and chairs padded with compacted hay wrapped in clear plastic to reveal the organic qualities of the material and the natural colours produced when the plants are dried in the sun. These objects have a lifetime of about ten years, after which they decompose in a process that is conceived as part and parcel of the overall project. In other words, the design vision is not limited to aesthetics but considers the product’s entire life cycle through to its disposal and return to the earth.
The School of Design of the University of Lund has created shaving brushes with handles carved from walnut shells, an excellent example of how a waste product can be transformed into a consumer item with unique appeal.
The principle has inspired countless ceiling installations consisting of suspended compositions of plants and flowers, creating uniquely exotic atmospheres. In the field of design, the fastest growing style trend is untamed nature, especially that of Africa, an influence boosted by the rise of emerging African designers at an international level. These settings are brought to life in our homes by photographic prints, as in the Home 2017 collection by Christian Fischbacher, a colourful tribute to tropical forests, and the surreal graphic designs of the wallpaper by Cole & Sons which depict vibrant, dreamlike worlds populated by wild animals and strange trees.
Andrea Castrignano, one of the most popular of all Italian designers, paid tribute to eco-sustainability in all its forms in an initiative entitled PRE-FABulous held in his Milan headquarters during the Fuorisalone.
Another trend that reflects our thirst for nature is that of the faux leather upholstery that has been much in evidence at furniture shows like IMM in Cologne. These materials include cheetah, python and zebra skins and fabric reproductions of the vibrant colours of insects and other living organisms. The first few design events of the year have revealed a growing tendency to treat the interiors of our homes as living entities, as we constantly seek to attain symbiosis with nature. This trend is also reflected in the fact that Pantone named Greenery the colour of the year. The yellowish green colour is a symbol of rebirth and is at once vibrant and reassuring. It is inscribed in our DNA and generates positive emotions. In this period of rapid political, economic and social change, the airy, reassuring tone of Greenery invites us to make a fresh start, to re-establish a sense of harmony with nature – the one thing that we should look after more than any other and which we are unfortunately neglecting.