19 May 2022
This week: For the love of indie design.
April showers bring May flowers, and design events galore. From Clerkenwell to Milan to Long Island City, design happenings are popping off this spring, breaking us out of winter hibernation to more inspired states of mind.
• This year marks the 10th anniversary of New York Design Week, which kicked off on May 15th with dozens of exhibitions that popped up throughout the city. What’s special about the weeklong showcase is that many of the exhibits are independently staged and designer-led. As Wallpaper Magazine* reports, “these curated showcases are rife with discovery and inspiration, not least because of their exclusive and often unseen locales.”
• We could all use more indie design in our lives. If you haven’t noticed, so much of visual culture these days — from branding campaigns to furniture design — is looking a little samey. For AIGA’S publication Eye on Design, Elizabeth Goodspeed explains how in today’s extremely-online world, “the vast availability of reference imagery has, perhaps counterintuitively, led to narrower thinking and shallower visual ideation,” giving way to a phenomenon called the ‘moodboard effect’. Since art directors typically have to show clients moodboards before producing the designs or imagery of a project, they tend to pull from pre-existing images sourced from other moodboards online. It’s why sans-serif fonts reign supreme and why the millennial color palette of mustard yellows and pale pinks seems to never end. How can you avoid being trapped in a hall of mirrors of the same visual references? “Ultimately, reference imagery should be used as a tool, not a product — leading to visual iteration, not limiting it,” Goodspeed writes.
• If you’re looking for a visual refresh, try switching up your inputs. Independent design exhibitions can open up possibilities for breaking out of that tried-and-true mold. For Clerkenwell Design Week in London, Schluter Systems Limited will be hosting an exhibit in one of Appear Here’s spaces until the end of the month, geared mostly towards home designers, but open to anyone who is architecturally inclined. In Milan, the Alcova platform for independent design will revive forgotten locations of historical significance throughout the city, recasting them as venues for contemporary creativity from June 5th through June 11th.
In a creative rut these days? Try looking outward for inspiration. In an interview with the Creative Independent, writer and podcaster Brad Listi said it best: “I think issues in creating are often tied to input problems. Your thoughts are built of other thoughts [...] You need to take things in.”
Pandemic lockdowns put just about everything on hold in 2020 and 2021. That is, except, interior design.
• Home offices are no longer home offices. In the WFH era, our homes are simply just offices. And gyms. And daycare centers. Two years on from the pandemic, we’re investing more in making our multi-functional spaces look and feel better because, frankly, they’re here to stay. Wiesner-Hager, a UK based furniture design company, is rethinking how office furniture can fit into the equation. Their mission? To develop furniture that meets the new needs of hybrid workplaces, fostering comfort and collaboration both at home and at the office.
• By now, you might have heard of the Danish concept of hygge, that cozy feeling that comes from creating a space that feels intimately comfortable and your own. The principle became popular all over the world in 2016, and is now taking on renewed significance thanks to interest from homebodies globally. On how the pandemic has changed home design, the Washington Post reports: “During the pandemic, hygge has taken on a new, all-encompassing dimension.” That’s manifested in more indoor-outdoor hybrid spaces, the popularity of green hues (or so says Apartment Therapy’s 2022 trend forecast), and more organic, harmonious design elements that can counteract the 🥴 of modern life.
• It’s no mistake that wellness is a central theme of 2022 interiors. Before the pandemic, the wellness industry was already booming — but after two years of collective fixation on the importance of our bodies and minds, we’re prioritizing health in new ways. A report from American Society of Interior Designers found that “homeowners are increasingly searching for designs and products that will promote good health and an overall sense of well-being.” In an interview with Vogue, interior designer Jenni Kayne agreed, “It’s no longer just a place you return to after a long day. Your home should reflect and inspire the best in you.”
We know by now that design is so much more than just how things look. It’s a window into meaning-making, collective wellbeing, and personal identity. There’s a reason Marie Kondo’s philosophy about “sparking joy” through decluttering a space became a worldwide sensation. (Tidy spaces, tidy minds.)
Whether we realize it or not, we’re in constant dialogue with our spatial and visual surroundings; we have independent designers to thank for making that conversation an interesting one.
Words by Nicola Pardy, a freelance writer and producer living in New York.