Joyful colours to inspire new year design concepts

Cheery and optimistic palettes are set to replace the doom-and-gloom hues of the past as signs of hope are reflected in residential design

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 6:55am

'Tis the season of good cheer - literally. As 2013 chimes in, say goodbye to "austerity interiors", and welcome a bright new era of colour, texture and style.

Householders, it seems, have had enough of the gloom. A respectable period of mourning has passed, and it is time to embrace joyfulness. Design consultant Jane Stockel, a longtime chair of the Color Marketing Group (CMG), a not-for-profit association of international colour forecasters, has seen it coming.

CMG ( members meet annually in various Asian locations to discuss trends in lifestyle and colour directions and, according to Stockel, who also runs Jane Stockel Designs, a Hong Kong- and Australia-based trend information service, we have grown tired of the chaos.

"Our collective reaction to the stress of recent years - from global weather patterns, economic pressures, social upheaval or governments' apparent inability to cope under pressure - spawned a retro movement rekindling a time when life was simpler and less technology powered," Stockel says.

But now, we are moving on. The retro sentiment will be retained in our home interiors in 2013, Stockel predicts, only with refreshing new bursts of colour.

"Colours will reflect a relaxed mood with denim-inspired blues [from 're-blued', CMG's colour of the year for 2013/14], and weathered textures," she says. "Feminine pink splits into a bougainvillaea hot pink and a coral bridge between pink and red - warm, yet inviting. Greens also split their moods from citrus to a grey green inspired by celadon."

The retro mood will inspire handmade and crafted items, appliqué, texture, natural wood grains and collectible items from the 1950s - such as retro toys, vintage cars and linen - as decorative items, she predicts. Porcelain, fine china and linen napery returns, as afternoon tea once again becomes an occasion. Stockel predicts a strong market in feminine-influenced colours, "even on kitchen appliances".

She notes a growth in wallpaper use in Asia, and the increasing importance of paint schemes that add light and the perception of space in small urban high-rises.

The demands of our busy lives will see more of us - particularly women - creating a "me time" nook in the home. "Women who work and juggle a family life are searching for time slots for themselves, even just to chill and read a book. Private space at home may be an answer," she says.

Ross Urwin, creative director of home and lifestyle at Lane Crawford (, agrees that colour and print "in all forms" will continue to play a major part of 2013 interiors trends. "Generally, one rarely sees fashion trends overlapping in design and lifestyle merchandise, but for the past few seasons, the strong focus on colour by most major brands has totally been embraced by furniture and lifestyle accessories," Urwin says. He adds that zesty, bold colours dominate the upcoming spring-summer collections "as do botanical, animal and more humorous prints in all scales".

He, too, believes these "zesty" colours are an antidote to economic uncertainty. "Designers are using their innovation to brighten the world of the consumer. This has been the case with other periods. For example, back in the 1950s after years of doom and gloom caused by unrest and war, freedom brought colour back in to people's lives," Urwin says.

Other trends include eccentricities, another way in which designers can express their individualism and customers can equally show theirs, Urwin says.

"This is about escapism in design and art. It's about pushing the boundaries of reality and designs, challenging and playing with the notions of proportion, prints, scale and colours."

The "homespun" notion of handcrafted merchandise is also still a trend for 2013, he adds. "Many designers we are working with are collaborating with traditional craft makers in the celebration of craftsmanship.

"For several seasons, we have talked about a return to craftsmanship and the unique play of the human hand. Spring-summer 2013 is about the subtle, tactile comfort of irregularity and simple organic shapes. It's a wholesome textural journey into relaxed colour, shape, form and texture," he says.

Think recycled, pre-loved, eco-chic or "supercyclers" - the new term adopted by Lane Crawford: if it's been around before, we'll continue to love it in 2013. Forget inferior merchandise purchased by the conscious consumer just to support the cause.

Urwin says, "Recycled in high-end design was once a dirty word. Today this is not the case as most international designers use sustainability within their work, producing superb contemporary products that just happen to be made using recycled and eco-friendly materials."

Kate Babington, managing director of TREE (, Hong Kong's eco-chic furniture and homeware chain, agrees. "Sustainability in design is moving from a 'nice to have' to a 'must have'. More retailers providing options on sustainable furnishings is evidence that this interiors trend is growing and gaining popularity among a wider audience," she says.

Babington predicts more use of metals and raw materials. "We've noticed recent interior projects that are using old steel beams, railway sliders, industrial-style doors and handles, and exposed masonry," she says.

"In furniture design styles and trends, mismatched still seems to be one of the hottest trends around - mixing the old with the new. Pairing your grandmother's re-upholstered wingback chair with a designer chair, for example, or a gorgeous new dining table with mismatched chairs.

"This trend also works well because it allows people to showcase their individuality and personal style, and in this way even if you use similar 'base' products to someone else, no two homes ever look the same. Your own space is always unique."

Geoff Fuller, managing director of Tequila Kola ( believes environmental sensibilities are making consumers look beyond materials to scrutinising the provenance, too.

"This popular theme in 2012 continues in 2013," he says, pointing to the brand's new range of eco-weave fabrics with ISO 14001 environmental certification (for production that consumes fewer resources than regular manufacturing and minimises CO2 emissions), and its collection of recycled and Forest Stewardship Council-approved hardwood furniture.

Eschewing the norm of our throwaway society, Tequila Kola is now providing a service that re-upholsters old furniture in 1,000 fabric or leather choices.

Ronald Redding, vice-president of design at York Wallcoverings ( in Pennsylvania, in the US, agrees. "In the furniture market, consumers are moving away from 'throwaway design' and are willing to invest in more substantial and decorative pieces such as Jacobean and Italian-style furniture, which recalls classical and architectural motifs," he says. "There's a renewed appreciation for real wood [not particleboard] and attention to detail. Many modern furniture pieces incorporate special touches like brass nail heads."

From a global perspective, Italian designer and trend forecaster Andrea Dall'Olio, of A + A Design Studio (, says the mood this year will be "sober and chic, very modern, but in the meantime close to nature".

"We use technology to be more eco-friendly and respectful of the environment. Colours are an energetic choice of tonic colour accents on a neutral background," he says.

Dall'Olio believes the global economic situation will still be an influence, stimulating us to look to simple and healthy things.