Transcending trends, modern furnishings are informed by glocal inspiration
Designers are using the opportunity to revive forgotten skills and crafts, to ensure their creations go beyond aesthetic value
One of the instant ways to infuse a home with freshness is through drapes and furnishings. Lately, these decor elements have become more expressive and seek inspiration from near and far. Whether it is botanical prints, a lesser-known craft from Japan, or textures and embroidery from remote Indian villages, drapes and other furnishing elements have become more than “pretty things” to introduce in a space. “People have finally begun to consider upholstery and the way it accentuates their living space on a serious note. In my opinion, soft furnishing is being emphasised upon a lot currently in this vertical of the interior industry,” share Aesha Dhawan and Shikhar Dhawan, who recently opened a new furnishing store in Mumbai called DaOne.
The emphasis is as much on the beauty of the fabric and the print as it is on the inspiration behind the collection. Designers are using the opportunity to revive forgotten skills and crafts, and ensuring that their collections go beyond their aesthetic value. There is a back story to most collections today. Great value is placed on the process and the people behind the scenes, which ultimately results in a collection that speaks to the human heart. With such collections, you don’t just add colours and textures through the furnishing – but you also infuse the home with a soul.
It’s all about adding an element of surprise and intrigue to the home with the help of modern drapes and furnishings, as Mandeep Nagi, design director, Shades of India, points out while describing their collection: “We value comfort, ease of living, elegance achieved with a touch of casualness, contrasts in colour and textures, a mixture of the antique and contemporary, the revelation of the unexpected.”
Modern-day furnishings find their aesthetic appeal in rather unusual places. It’s not all florals and abstract geometrical prints. Freedom Tree Design, for one, has found inspiration in urban cities while developing their new collection. Latika Khosla, founder and design director, Freedom Tree Design, explains, “We are always excited by the cities we live in. This year, it’s all about people and gatherings. Despite the continuous chaos and inconvenience of urban living, the glitch, we bravely continue to laugh in the face of all odds. People are our solace. Feel the richness, warmth, and the intimacy of drawing people closer into your homes.” With illustrations of people, faces, city graffiti, pixellated skyscrapers and tall urban architecture, the textiles and prints of their new collection have an artistic flair with an intense palette of russet reds, luminous ochres and fashion pink, set against a backdrop of neutrals.
Meanwhile, furnishing brand Spaces has revived age-old, precious Indian textile craft forms and unveiled their new Bed linen collection. From Patola to Meenakari, Phulkari to Paithani, Rangana is a collection evolved from the beautiful crafts of diverse India. Manjari Upadhye, CEO and head of Domestic Business, Welspun India, says, “Spaces as a brand stands for thoughtfulness through its designs and the innovative products… It is important to revive the traditional Indian art form and create awareness amongst consumers, which is why Spaces has taken this initiative.” Inspired by Kashmiri Paisley, Patan Patola, Ajrakh, Meenakari, Paithani, Phulkari and the likes, each print depicts a story from a different region with motifs, block printing, earthy colours and flora-fauna. Proceeds from the sale of Rangana will be directly used for the development of these craft communities.
Besides local art and craft, brands are also unearthing traditional art forms from all over the world. Sarita Handa, for instance, recently debuted their African Modern collection, which is an ode to African Tribal Art and blends the rustic, rural with minimal chic aesthetics. Heavy textured cottons and linen furnishings accentuated with rugs imbibe the warmth of the sun and the serenity of flora and fauna from Africa, which is also interpreted on textured fabrics with intricate needlework for cushions. Similarly, the brand’s earlier cushion collections – Kaitag, Merra Tribe and Ombre – were designed from inspirations from the embroidered textiles of Dhagestan, Russia.
Interpreting art and craft to modern sensibilities is key. Juxtaposing two different styles helps brands offer the best of both worlds for consumers. As Dhawan shares, “Through all our collections, we strive to pay homage to our beloved country by blending traditional designs, arts and techniques with a touch of the classic Western and the new-age look to form products that will suit the perspectives of both – those who want a localised appeal to their décor as well as those who want to give their soft furnishings a contemporary edge.”
Often, furnishing trends are indicative of the latest art and design movements that govern the design sphere. Irrespective, perennial styles such as florals and geometric shapes remain a crowd favourite. When asked to identify a specific trend in the segment, Nayanika Kalra and Gazal Bawa, the founders of Idam, share, “The current trends are modern with lots of play with bold and contrasting colours. Mismatched, hand-illustrated patterns have been dominating the furnishings and decor.” As a print and surface design studio, Idam translates the-present aesthetics on to contemporary home and lifestyle products. The jaali and other elements from Indian architecture governed the aesthetics of their new collection, Jashn-e-Jaali.
Today, “decidedly eclectic and smart” furnishings are most evident, according to Khosla. However, she points out subtle layering as the defining trend at the moment. “Using the window as permeability to the world. Bringing the outside in at will, layer by layer. Airy voile and light drapes allow us to view the dynamic cities we live in. And drapes as blinds in bedrooms and restful areas, occupy minimal space and shut out maximal cities,” explains Khosla.
Neutral tones, muted colours, brushed metal finishes, etc, are the other key trends for soft furnishings, says Nagi of Shades of India. She credits mid-century and bohemian-inspired decor for the range of beiges, browns and creams — shades that are easily spotted in furnishing stores lately. “The shade green also brings elements of the outdoors in, reconnects us with nature, satisfies our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalise; and provides us with the reassurance we yearn for in today’s turbulent environment,” she adds.
As for the coming year, Idam’s founders predict that terrazo prints and the nomadic boho vibes are trends to watch out for. “Textured cushions and throws with big tassels and embroideries are going to be back,” they add. From colour palettes to nuanced inspirations, we believe that designers will continue to explore a more soulful dimension in prints and textiles, forever transforming the way drapes and furnishings accentuate homes and other living spaces.