So, a new year, and what are the most exciting trends that will shape London’s homes in 2008? Which are the names to watch out for — and where are we going to shop? Computer technology has revolutionised design, allowing designers to create fabulous weaves, new fabrics, flooring and furniture. But the technology goes much further into every aspect of creativity.
Room planning has embraced “virtual reality”, presenting ideas in an imagined situation before we have to commit. Computers search out best buys, compare options and prices, and suggest design possibilities at the click of a mouse. Some products even interact electronically, changing form and colour according to who is using them. For example, Assa Ashuach’s AI Light has five sensors that allow it to change its shape by using “artificial intelligence”.
Pattern power will continue to hit our homes as bold, vibrant and often intricate motifs spread over walls, floors and furniture. Wallpaper will work a modern magic with metallic and geometric designs — for inspiration look at award-winning Erica Wakerly’s work at www.printpattern.com. Or Jo Angell’s pretty Bittern patterns for Graham & Brown’s new eco-wallpapers. They feature birds, a favourite subject for 2008 (0800 328 8452; www.grahamandbrown.com).
Watch out for massive murals, empowered once again by digital technology that can easily alter form, scale and colour. Leading the field is Digetex (0161 873 8891; www.digetex.com). Digital printing will put patterns onto ceramics, tiles, blinds and other surfaces as clearly as a photograph. See, for example, surreal tiles and papers by Dominic Crinson (www.crinson.com) and the enhanced computer graphics of Alice Mara printed on tiles and chinaware (www.alicemara.com).
On a subtler note, touch-me textures will be everywhere, from cut-pile carpets and moulded ceramics to fabric sheers with knitted and knotted designs in wool, silk and linen, and dramatic “burnt-out” patterns. Metallics will adorn all surfaces.
Global is the buzzword
Designs whizz electronically around the world: created in one country, made in another and sold everywhere. Websites are becoming more interactive, thanks to new technology. Up and running this month will be www.mydeco.com. It will compare prices, design and service over a range of home suppliers. Then you will be able to “drag and drop” options into an easily created plan — or an uploaded picture — of your own room, and get/swap design tips.
In the vanguard of design technology will be furniture, lights and accessories made by “laser sintering”, the 21st century way forward. Confusingly, this technique is also known as layer manufacturing and rapid prototyping. A computer-controlled laser makes objects from a very hard plastic, layer by tiny layer and all in one piece. Products seem fragile but have a carefully computed skeletal strength. New for 2008 are Janne Kyttanen’s Monarch stacking stools with poetic images of butterflies (available through www.within4walls.co.uk). Indeed, butterflies and bugs will be big motifs everywhere throughout 2008.
Londoners’ rooms will be increasingly eclectic, with mixing being a style statement. Newer boutiques will be driven by the enthusiasm of individual entrepreneurs (for example, Andrew Ying at Do in Soho, who has drawn together top talent from the RCA; www.do-shop.com). Larger design specialists will fight their corner. Sheridan Coakley’s SCP now has a shop in Westbourne Grove (www.scp.co.uk). And Purves & Purves has just opened on George Street in the West End, with stunning Italian furniture to show off top technology and materials (www.purves.co.uk). Department stores are forging strong own-brands — explore the Linea Home spring collections at House of Fraser (www.houseoffraser.co.uk).
Designers are getting successful at a younger age, bringing a fresh, free spirit to the design world. With formidable computer skills, many also offer production-ready designs. Their ideas, snapped up by the savvier big companies, will add a cutting edge to 2008. Peter Legg is only 24, but his white, lacy metal table will make it into B&Q’s 2008 Outdoor Living Range (www.diy.com). Concetta Gallo, 24, is Habitat’s find, and puts great graphics on china and rugs (www.habitat.net). Giles Wilson-Copp, 28, has invented the Smart Board, a low cupboard that conceals a pull-out dining table and four chairs (020 8305 2702; www.studiocaparo.com).
Meanwhile, mature British design talent will be more than a match for flashier Continental competition. Names to watch include Pearson Lloyd, with its ingenious new Link screens made from interlocking expanded polypropylene (www.pearsonlloyd.com). Britain’s favourite modern furniture designer, Matthew Hilton, now has his own cool contemporary brand (www.matthewhilton.com).
Also making waves will be Industrial Facility (www.industrialfacility.co.uk), Alexander Taylor (www.alexandertaylor.com) and Barber Osgerby (www.barberosgerby.com).
Finally, recycling will at last come of age, with ambitious strategies for using recycled materials on a large scale. For example, Christopher Pett’s Reee chair will be made in bulk from recycled games-console casings (www.plidesign.com). Committed individuals will continue to transform local waste into quirky products of great charm. Take Claire Heather-Danthois, for example, who builds sculptural chairs from reclaimed wood.