Spring fairs: design has never been more confident

The new year brings new design and new trends — as three major interiors fairs, running back to back in London, Paris, and Birmingham, reveal.
Pastel colours on the catwalk and on homeware
© catwalking.com
Pretty pastels or elaborate black baroque? Country motifs or the leanest strong lines? Take your pick: eclectic is the buzz but the choice, as ever, is yours.

Design, it seems, has never been more confident — as we dicovered when we visited the three key shows. Home London is a new show exclusively for the trade at Earls Court; European regular Maison & Objet in Paris is always sensational, and Interiors UK has become an impressive show in Birmingham.

Here we reveal the range of interiors trends for 2012.

CATWALK PASTELS


Referencing fashion's major trend, the prettiest patterns and furniture lift the spirits for spring with ravishing pastels — apricot, rose, mist, jonquil and baby blue.

Pastel interiors
Wowing the crowds in Paris was British brand Elli Popp (www.ellipopp.com) — actually Katja Behre from east London — whose layered imagery oozes romance, with peeling plaster and blossoming boughs. Wallpapers come as large panels, and Different Strokes wallpaper was on show, in pinks and this Powder Paint Blue, left, from Mini Moderns (£40 a roll; www.minimoderns.com).

At the Home Show in London, Clare Nicholson was mixing digital printing with vintage fabrics for cushions with a special touch (far left; www.clarenicholson.com), while Ferm Living's sharp objects for the kitchen include pastel Spear vases and bowls (above right; www.ferm-living.com).


Dining table with wire legs and storage bins made from metal strips

ON THE WIRE


Stick-thin furniture has shrunk to mere outlines in wire, cord, rattan or slats of wood — let the light shine through. This style has a fresh, airy grace to give a lift to poky, urban rooms. In Paris, Laetitia Floris made playful, springy storage bins from fabric-covered metal strips (right; www.ligne-roset.co.uk).

Elsewhere sofas and chairs were simply wire grids or mesh, often in fun, bright colours — and then there was this fully wired dining table (right; £2,878; www.roche-bobois.com).

Donna Walker's giant wire lampshades provided a touch of welcome wit (www.donnawalker.org).


Tree print wallpaper

FORESTS AND HEDGEROWS


For a country breeze, designers go deep into the forest with drifting leaves and meadow flowers on rugs, walls, cushions, curtains and china, butterflies flitting amid the cow parsley.

At best, these designs are an inspirational antidote to grim grime and mean streets. At worst, they are trite and clichéd, and you could tire of them quickly.

Sanderson's newest wallpaper, shown in Paris, gives leaf motifs a sophisticated, abstract twist. And Andrew Tanner's adorable china plate is centred on a nest of eggs watched over by a broody finch in surreal tones of mauve and turquoise (www.designedinengland.co.uk).


Bounce chair

GLOBALLY GOOD


Design talent from all over the world is sucked up greedily by the giant brands, or feeds local firms, cheekily taking on the big boys. Fenny Ganatra's Bounce chair (right) was definitely the most fun launch of the season. "I'm Indian and my chair is designed and made in India," she told me while flopping down to demonstrate.

Indeed the taut, criss-crossing coloured ropes — like a giant cats' cradle — are a bit puzzling until you sit on them. Then they collapse into a comfortable seating "net". These tough strands of silicone, thoroughly tested and supported by a circular frame, are in six colours and Bounce should land in London shortly (www.the-bounce.com).

New from Alessi is its (Un)Forbidden City collection, turning the usual tables of "designed in Europe, made in China". It presents trays and bowls created by eight distinguished Chinese architects — but made in Alessi's hi-tech Italian factory (www.alessi.com).

"Ease of travel and the internet now bring contact with talent worldwide," says Olivier Roset, who's been scouring Europe and Asia to find new designers for his French family firm (www.ligne-roset.co.uk).


Furniture and wallpaper inspired by the past

SOAKING UP THE PAST


Sponge-like, designers are soaking up the past and squeezing out a new look. Retro is much favoured, which popularly refers to the middle of the last century, all blonde woods and spiky legs.

Designers each have their own starting points — the Festival of Britain and vintage bus tickets for Mini Moderns (left; "Hold Tight" cushion £35 and wallpaper £45 a roll; www.minimoderns.com), old video collections for Michelle Mason (www.michellemason.co.uk), while the elegant Fifty armchair by Dögg & Arnved Design for indoors and out (far left; armchair £902; footstool £332) was unveiled by Ligne Roset (www.ligne-roset.co.uk).


Colourful chairs

MIX ABSTRACTS


Bang on trend for the 21st century is an odd geometry of abstract shapes for furniture, as with this Latina modular bookcase (below left; £8,371); Offset four-stack shelves in red (below right; £2,114) and Spoutnick seating in 10 colourways of polyester fibre jersey fabric (right; £1,154), all from Roche Bobois (www.roche-bobois.com).

These designs are smart, contemporary and make for a good decorating party, being such good mixers — add in florals or country motifs, for example, for a personal scheme. In London and Paris, Lorna Syson and John Luff launched their Bradbury fabric on a new chair of oiled black walnut (below middle; £1,950. Visit www.lornasyson.co.uk).
Abstract design furniture


TECHNO LIGHTING


Technology has transformed lighting. Shedding a new light are low-energy CFLs (compact fluorescents) in fresh shapes, strips of LEDs and the very new, wafer-thin and flat OLEDs, which are super energy-efficient (below left and middle; www.blackbody-oled.com).

Lighting

Ever more powerful rechargeable batteries make fittings free to roam around the house, or out into the garden. Add colour-changing for a spot of fun, and the light's fantastic.

Using fibre optics for magical knitted panels is Fay McCaul (www.faymccaul.com), who showed at Interiors UK in Birmingham with a bevy of new Brit talent assembled by London's Designersblock (www.verydesignersblock.com).

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