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Hong Kong interior design

Interiors defined by ‘grounded living’ are the trend for 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 4:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 7:54pm

This is possibly the first time that a wooden chopping board – yes, of the kitchen variety – has made it on to a trend watcher’s interior design forecast for the year ahead.

By its very nature, the humble chopping block – facilitator of meal preparation for family and friends – defines the concepts of “housewarming” and “grounded living”. That is what Gemma Riberti, senior editor design and product development for London-based trend authority WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors (which has an office in Hong Kong), predicts will be a “thing” for 2017.

“Housewarming investigates how the house becomes a home – a welcoming haven you look forward to coming back to at the end of the day,” she says. It needs to be a comfortable, cosy, beautiful space that “has become a feeling”, more than a look, Riberti asserts. “As a feeling, it can be recreated no matter where we are, how small the space, or how temporary.”

The hyper-connectivity we all endure – “technology permeating our everydayness, in ever-more subtle ways” – “spurs a counterbalancing reaction with a desire to reconnect with things authentic”, Riberti says.

“Materials become key: honest, natural tactilities, beautifully imperfect finishes applied to everyday products are what we crave to surround ourselves with. It will also be increasingly important to know where materials, products and resources come from, and how they have been used.”

The concept of “grounded living” is a continuum of the nesting trend being embraced by even the younger generation, which feels less of a need to go out to socialise. “Surrounding ourselves with comfortable, cosy products makes staying home a better experience,” Riberti says.

Predicting a shift in consumer behaviour, she expects Hongkongers will be buying less, caring more, and making sustainable purchasing choices in pursuit of “an honest connection to what really matters”.

This means dressing the accoutrements of the digital home – like our electronic devices – in leather or felt casings; softening hard surfaces with accessories that reassure, comfort and soothe; and choosing natural materials over manufactured. Ergo the chopping board. “A rustic wooden or bamboo chopping board, for instance, speaks to us much more than a throwaway plastic one.”

Accessories will feature natural-themed collections and materials, from stone cookware to recycled fibre stationery and cosy, crafted textiles.

The craft movement, which has been having a moment, is not done with yet. Workshops and makers’ markets will keep gaining momentum, reflecting society’s need to share and a preference to learn together.

“There is great traditional craftsmanship inherent in Hong Kong, a rich history of materials and techniques that are also coming back strongly,” Riberti says. “I have seen wonderful workshops in the city where younger generations make and share, as well as tiny old shops where traditional items are crafted.”

With locally sourced materials such as bamboo so readily available, she adds, “artisanal doesn’t have to mean expensive”.

It is no surprise that nature is an interiors trend, given the rise of urban gardening and a greening of cities in general. Pantone, inventors of the influential proprietary colour system used in printing and fabric design, leads with Greenery as its colour of the year for 2017, a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew”.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says it is a life-affirming shade. “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape,” she says. “Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalise and unite, Greenery symbolises the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”

Greenery for home décor and architecture is manifested in open spaces in interior and exterior design, and floor-to-ceiling windows allowing the outdoors to become part of a room’s backdrop and ambiance, Eiseman says.

Adding Greenery through living walls, terrariums, botanically themed wallpaper, paint, accent furniture and decor provides respite and breathing space. A Greenery-painted wall or piece of furniture delivers a pop of colour, with the benefit of creating the illusion of nature indoors.

In furniture collections, forest green has also made a comeback and is seen mixed with deep woods and black hardware and punches of brass to make it pop.

“Go bold and paint a powder room green,” suggests European manufacturer Boca do Lobo. “Pair with an antique chest-turned-vanity and some brass pulls and brass faucet.” Or opt for the brand’s Diamond Emerald Sideboard, a statement piece made from wood finished with a luxurious shade of translucent green emerald with high gloss varnish.

But if you think it’s tough keeping up with trends, spare a thought for the industry professionals. Explains futurist Victoria Redshaw from British trend forecasting agency Scarlet Opus: “Within the interiors sector design trends evolve gradually from season‎to season and key players need to be aware of the continuing and new characteristics ahead of the main pack. This is why we’re already out on the road presenting our 2019 trend forecast to manufacturers who are at the start of the product chain.”