The Decoration + Design trade event is currently being held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre. And today I was lucky enough to gain access to one of its seminars hosted by Amanda Talbot. For the last 10 years, Amanda has been showcasing her talent for creating sexy, sophisticated interiors around the world, working for big brands such as Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Dixon, and trend forecasting for the likes of IKEA. As the ex associate editor of ELLE Decoration, she has travelled through many a beautiful home, and come into contact with some of the world’s most amazing home and lifestyle designs.
Living in small spaces and having your own personal space, too. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live
It’s her latest quest that has me – and after today’s seminar, many more – questioning our surroundings. Rethink: The Way You Live is both the title of today’s seminar and her book. It looks at the relationship between human and home, and challenges our already existing functions and design of our surrounding environment. Today’s seminar explored the way the world is rapidly changing and, in turn, our needs are changing with it. Do we need a home office when all we see in sight is a laptop and an iPad? Is a bedroom only used for sleeping? Through imagery, Amanda took us around the world to highlight inspired designs and tell-tale signs of what the future holds for design that ‘rethinks’ its purpose, functionality, and form. This round-the-world trip highlighted the global nature of this need in the design and architecture industry.
Small home in Japan where dining space becomes office space. Multifunctional room where walls and lighting can be moved. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live
It’s a recurring theme that, as times get tough, we turn to memories of the good times, and we head back to our roots to embrace a ‘nostalgia trend’. A little ‘doom and gloom’ brought on by such effects as the GFC, terrorism, global warming, and technological advances, sparks a clear want for the good ol’ days, with one such example being the current resurgence of craft and handmade creations.
These shifting times evolve into new living and lifestyle trends. No longer is a common open plan home design the best option to live in. No longer is useless design that serves no function and purpose in our lives a welcome addition to our environment or space.
Spaces that cater to the senses. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live
An example of key movements outlined by Amanda today:
Living with nature – new solutions for city dwellers to connect with nature are on the rise, in particular with those that live in small spaces and apartments. Pots and indoor plants are a growing design trend, as is robust, heavy, natural textiles such as timber and wool. Large artwork with nature-inspired scenes that take up entire walls is another clever way designers are reinvigorating the notion of living with nature.
Back to basics – we’re not talking about the stark minimalism we saw in the 90s, we mean an almost warm minimalism, where our purchases and products we choose to fill out space with are needed, make sense, and have a purpose. We want 21st Century mod cons, but we want them discreet, seamless, and hidden.
Excerpt from Rethink: The Way You Live
Create and control – we revel in the idea of being industrious at home and creating and producing our own products from within our haven such as craft. We want to make our own rules, and Amanda reiterates that interior designers need to understand this desire and how their designer inclusions fulfil the lives of the home owners.
Self-sufficient living – there’s a want for things that we know we trust. And what better way to ensure this trust than to produce our own self-sufficient produce such as honey and herbs. Urban farming and rooftop gardens are on the rise as is aquaponics.
Rethink: The Way You Live
Ever-changing space – multi-functional rooms are a necessity. It’s not uncommon for the kitchen to be your place to prepare food, grow food, gather and entertain; or your bedroom to be an office, reading den, escape, entertainment destination and more. Spaces need to evolve with families and ‘nooks and crannies’ need to be exploited as opposed to this misconception of open plan living perfection.
Mobile Living — house boat. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live
Amanda went on to discuss optimistic design, downsizing, holistic living, working from home, and mobile living, too, all movements that need to be considered by designers and creative industries for the future of our homes and lifestyles. The seminar emphasised how our world is changing quickly and so are we, adapting to accommodate new social and environmental behaviour, which is why we require fresh vision and new design considerations for the future of this evolving state.
This is a very condensed version of a very interesting subject. Check out Amanda Talbot’s book Rethink: The Way You Live for a further, in-depth analysis on this topic.