The transition was inevitable. Fusion cooking - lemongrass and roast beef - is hip, hot and very 1990s; cheongsams and churidhars on international catwalks are de rigueur; and sitar strains mingle with jazzy ballads in trendy dance clubs. Surely, it was only a matter of time before the East-meets-West culture pervaded the home - not only mixing Oriental antiques with Laura Ashley chintzes but in the smallest details, down to the toothbrush holder. Home design experts refuse to refer to it as a resurgence in 'ethnic' trends as it conjures up stereotyped images of cheese-cloth curtains, brass Buddhas and mirrored cushions which, they say, do not quite capture the feeling. Instead, interior elements that are in style combine the traditional of the East with the most modern of the West for a design aesthetic executed by the big international interior names such as Conran and Habitat in Britain and Pottery Barn and the Bombay Company in the United States. In Hong Kong, the shift is slowly turning away from Italian leather furniture, European fabrics and French objects to what is described by one furnishings expert as 'a much more relaxed, interesting and individual feel'. What is now coming out of the East - such as India, Thailand and Vietnam - is a modern synthesis of the best of both worlds. 'Hong Kong people are still not that keen on anything that is too ethnic,' says Catherine Eve, whose company, Inside, specialises in made-up soft furnishings and small home accessories from India. Ms Eve describes the look achieved by Indian fabrics and accessories as 'more Esprit than Escada'. 'It is softer, not as formal and brings a much more relaxed approach. It also gives the individual scope to make one's own statement. If you buy Waterford crystal, you have to lay your table a certain way,' she says. 'With eclectic furnishings, you can create your own look.' Ms Eve is not the only one to have noticed a swing towards all things eastern. Thailand-based company, Lotus Arts de Vivre, was established by European couple Rolf and Helen von Bueren to create products 'for dining, interiors and travel . . . inspired by old Asian traditions'. Lotus, which hosts an exhibition from tomorrow at the China Club, distinguishes itself by professing to 'infuse the exotic classicism of Oriental culture with Occidental avant-garde,' a company spokesman says. This fusion manifests itself in different ways, ranging from the pretentious to the sublime: a boar's fang is the handle on a silver beer mug; a golden serpent slither down a silver pen; and a champagne bucket is made from a rubber car tyre, detailed in silver, for a heavy, earthy appeal. Chopsticks are sleek and Italian-inspired in gleaming silver while ornately-engraved toothpick holders are shaped like porcupines. Throughout the functional Western-orientated collection, subtle design references are made to Tibet, China and Thailand. Ms Eve believes the success of East-meets-West design trends lies in their delicacy: even Indian fabrics, once seen as roughly woven, heavy and embroidered are now crisp and modern. 'Indian fabrics have a specific feel to them. And because a lot of the Western textile houses are doing joint ventures in India with state-of-the-art machinery, it is almost impossible to see that these fabrics come from India,' she adds. In her inventory are smooth, ready-made fabrics in fresh, summery colours, white muslin draperies, quilted throws with autumn leaf motifs together with simple aluminium bathroom accessories, candle holders and photo frames. Showcased together, they represent distinctive Indo-West design sensibilities. High-priced textiles from designer Shyam Ahuja, until recently, were India's answer to the world of furnishing fabrics. But contemporary and well-priced collections from outlets such as Design Selection, Banyan Tree, Fabric Fair and Amazing Grace have increasingly made Indian fabrics more accessible. Inside, a newly-founded company, was set up as a wholesale operation to show individual retailers that Indian fabrics are cost-effective and design-conscious. 'Interior design generally is beginning to come down the social scale, as the less affluent are making it a priority,' Ms Eve points out. 'Changing demographics mean young couples are no longer living with three generations and with a granny dictating how the flat should look. 'They are doing their own thing,' she says. Julie Saunders, general manager of Fabric Fair, says Hong Kong consumers are increasingly choosing Indian fabrics because 'their quality has improved vastly, and they are really quite sophisticated'. 'The range of colours is appealing, ranging from vibrant to earthy tones. Classic colours like spice, turmeric, saffron and terracotta are very popular,' she says. Ms Saunders agrees fabrics that stress the traditional - such as crewel or hand-stitched surfaces - do not really work. These are 'too ethnic', she says. Instead, contemporary checks, stripes and block colours are favoured by local buyers. Ms Eve, who has been buying Indian fabrics for a decade, believes India and most of Southeast Asia are ripe for design pickings: textiles, glass, ceramics are being produced in massive quantities and shipped to the US and Europe then often returned to be stocked by retailers in Hong Kong. Her company intends to consolidate the production and delivery of fabrics and home accessories and to 'work on the cottage industry end without looking like that is where these items came from'. Perhaps the current popularity of ethnic-inspired fabrics is all about timing. Caroline Mak, managing director of Ikea in Hong Kong, said an offering last year of Indian and Pakistani fabrics and accessories did not fare as well as expected, motivating the company to return to its signature bleached wood and pastel Scandinavian look. 'We especially brought in an Indian range, but phased it out. I think people just found it a bit heavy,' she says.