Be a drama queen
Last year, designers finally remembered that there is life beyond minimalism. The white walls and stripped-down look finally gave way to Art Deco-inspired furniture lines, oversized vases and bold chandeliers in otherwise under-accessorized rooms. But in the coming year, designers will flex their flamboyant muscle even more. The neoclassical look, with gold-leaf trims, sculptural focal points and bold colours will be all the rave. Prateek Jain, of the New Delhi-based design studio Klove, says, aesthetics have become far more important than utility. People want their furniture pieces to be almost like art installations. “An object will be much more than just a vase or a chandelier,” he says. “Nobody will pick up a piece for just its utility.” The easiest way to up the drama is by focusing on lights. Opulent glass-blown fixtures, such as Klove’s gold teardrop chandelier, will punch up the room’s flare quotient instantly.
Hit the runway
Fashion has always inspired furniture design, with popular design colours coming off the catwalk; but this year more than ever, the two design spheres collide in a major way. Most well-known fashion designers have launched their own furniture lines. Armani Casa just launched in India at August, a New Delhi-based home furnishing store. Fendi Casa is already available at International Home Furnishings in Mumbai. Versace sells tiles at Tiles and Styles in Mumbai.
But interior designers are finding more inspiration in fashion than just with fashion brands embracing furniture. Priti Sabharwal, interior designer and owner of August, says 2008 will have people decorating their furniture like a smart dresser with accessories. “People want to be distinct in their personal style and in their home style. A lampshade may be a print taken from a favourite dress. Also, jewels and mirrors will adorn furniture. Throws and shawls will be used to dress up plain corners and chairs. And upholstery will take inspiration from clothing fabrics, such as silks, leather and faux fur.
Honour thy father (and grandfather and great grandfather)
Or, in Beenu Bawa’s words, pay homage to India’s rich design heritage by updating it with the technology of today. “We need to enjoy the best of yesterday and tomorrow,” says Bawa, a director at Good Earth. “That means buying the timeless, rather than a fad, logo or hype.” Good Earth uses Mughal design elements in its barware range. Viya Home in New Delhi turns old Rajasthani doors and roof pieces into sculpture art.
Mughal-inspired furniture by Good Earth is in sync with the old-school look.
Also, many designers are turning to traditional handicraft work. Viya Home uses traditional stone cutters to shape side tables. Delhi-based designer Reshmi Dey uses Ferozabad glass-blowers and their ancient techniques to create modern glass sculptures. Expect to see more traditional Indian elements returning to the home. Adding one strong element that refers to a traditional style will add a dramatic—and personalized—touch.
Tap into your dark side
Colours for 2008 continue towards darker mineral tones, according to Laura Holland, a director of Hickory Chair, a US-based company which offers its furniture range at Mon Chateau in Bangalore. Black, blue, white and gold will dominate upholstery, finishes and paints. In wood finishes, darker colours that still show the grain will be popular. Hickory Chair just introduced a new finish, called Kohl, which is jet black, but still shows off the rich grains of mahogany and walnut. For upholstery, large floral prints and decorative, geometric patterns will continue to flourish, and wallpaper will continue its comeback.
Remember to eat your greens
Global warming, toxic pollution in the air: these things aren’t new. But it is getting easier—and more important—to modify the home in an environmentally friendly manner. For the green newbies, opt for recycled furniture products such as the newspaper rugs at Rickshaw Recycle in New Delhi, or add elements such as extra window casements to reduce air conditioning and heating expenses, or try something as simple as a terrace garden to up your green quotient.
For the more environmentally conscious, the options to go green are plentiful. Rajeev Agarwal, an architect in New Delhi, is working on a subdivision with grass-roofed homes that will hopefully garner a Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating, a US-based rating system that judges on a number of criteria if the building material, construction and output is environmentally sound. Agarwal says people should first look at the insulation in walls, roofs and windows. Use proper heat reflective or double glass. Also, a good VRE air-conditioning system is very important for Indian summers. People should also consider dual piping for the sewage to treat toilet water and reuse it for gardening.