Those of you who follow design or read shelter magazines will have noticed two trends that have shaped the past few years--sharp, citrusy colors with a '60's pop feel and a minimalist neutral palette with a French feel. Both of these visions started in high-end fabric and furniture lines and filtered down to the masses. (Much faster than trickle-down economics!) When you think about why these become important to us, you have to look at what is happening in society.
Why the 60's influence? The 1960's were a time of great cultural shifts and uncertainty-similar to what some people may be feeling today. You probably see the influence most in Bohemian, hippy chic fashion. For home fashion it's hot pink, orange, and turquoise in bold graphics. Those of us who are young baby boomers can feel a since of security in that time period even though the country was in flames. We were safe at home, too young for Vietnam, eating junk and watching Bewitched. And remember, it's the baby boomers who are buying high-end goods, despite what TV tells you. That sense of nostalgia drove not only home fashion but Mad Men, which drove fashion-it begins to feed on itself.
The other recent trend is the neutral linens with European style furniture. Think Restoration Hardware. In a time of economic downturn, people don't want to be seen as flaunting their wealth. Simplicity begins to rule the day-look at the shift in art from before the French Revolution to after. Excess goes away. There is also a belief in design psycholgy that a narcississtic personality thrives on a neutral ground because then they become the decoration. We certainly are living in a time when the desires of the individual are celebrated.
So that is where we have been-but where are we going? After this last trip to NYC and meeting with the representatives of designer fabric lines I think we are headed back to the '90's! The colors I saw in fashion were jewels tones-not quite the clear tones of the 90's but smokier. Amber and jade and bordeaux. Not only are the colors reminiscent but so are the textures and the details. Opulence is back with a vengeance. So why the shift? Is it the very powerful influence of Downton Abbey and English country house style? The Edwardian era in England corresponds to the Progressive Era in America which was a time of the great expansion of wealth and the middle class and empire. Look at the new fall Vogue to see how it translates into fashion. But it could also be the nostalgia for the Clinton era -regardless of your politics, a time when unemployment was at an all time low and we had a budget surplus. Think again of the baby boomers who are actually buying high end goods. Where were you in the 1990's? I know we are still in a time period of high unemployment and growth is weak, but people are spending money again and there is a renewed appreciation for high quality luxury goods. The minimalists grieges from Indonesia and China are being replaced with Belgian tapestries on hand crafted North Carolina frames.
Wow-what a long lesson this has been.Those of you still here-yay! I'm taking away from these design changes a sense of optimism. North Carolina upholstery has no match and its resurgence means jobs, which means spending, which means tax revenues, which means schools. That's where I got to looking at jewel tones this fall!