Nature, kinship key houseware design trends

Tomorrow’s consumers will increasingly demand textiles and tableware products that reflect nature and connections with communities, according to leading consumer, fashion and design trends forecasting company WGSN.

The WGSN TrendTalk: Houseware & Home Textiles 2018 Forecast presented findings during the HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair, the largest fair of its kind in Asia, which finished Sunday.

WGSN senior editor Anupreet Bhui, who led the seminar, said consumers are prepared to pay a premium for high-quality products – particularly if they are well-made and incorporate cultural elements or a tradition.

Based in Hong Kong, Bhui has more than 14 years experience with clients including Givenchy, 7 For All Mankind, Evisu and Rock & Republic.

“If you look at how the trends are perceived for 2018, you will see there that there is actually an extreme shift underway in how consumers are behaving and how lifestyles are changing.  Consumers are polarised, she said, between a more minimalist approach to living that references elements of nature and kinship, or a more colourful approach that references elements of technology and urbanisation.

She identified four key themes likely to influence a consumer’s path to purchase in 2018:

Slow futures

A calm, clean-looking, minimalist approach to life, slow futures will be driven by a need to de-clutter complicated modern lives and to retreat in order to make sense of the information that flows around us.

Consumers are increasingly looking to the past to determine the future, which has created a “less-is-more” approach to their purchases. “As we move forward, we feel consumers are looking for design that is going to stay with them,” she said.

Purchases tended to be well-made and more likely to impact on a consumer’s life over a longer period of time, Bhui added, saying natural features would often be attached to a product. For example, prints and patterns that reference geological formations, textures that mimic the appearance of scorched earth, or a pastel adapted from a swirl in a piece of stone.

Kinship

Kinship is seen by WGSN as a celebration of globalisation and of a connected community. Bhui said consumers attracted to this trend seek to mix and match traditions from different cultures and from periods in time to create their own aesthetic.

Natural fibres and colours have become signatures of this emerging trend, she said. Soft indigo colours, rope, seagrass, nautical themes and sandy tones were being used as inspirations and, in combination with design influences from the Middle East and South America, create texture, context and originality in fabrics.

The idea of sharing cultures and the demand for unique products has spurred the development of crafted collaborations between multinational retailers, such as Muji and Ikea, and independent or emerging designers.

Psychotropical

A “story about exploration” – about bright and exotic looks – sum up the third trend, Psychotropical. Bhui predicts it will give rise to products that are exceptionally bright, decorated in rainbows of colour, and blended with flora and fauna motifs.

“People want to experience a holiday in a far off space without the travel, which is changing the way cocktails and food are served, for example,” Bhui explained.

A trend to dark-green backgrounds, for example, will lend itself to vivid colour contrasts and the integration of more natural elements – think feathers and wings – in lifestyle products for spring and summer 2018, she said.

The use of dramatic lighting, fantasy and mystery create an ethereal space that caters to the notion of escapism. Against these moody settings, designers have the opportunity to create contrasts with iridescent colour, high-gloss surfaces and psychedelic imagery.

Youth tonic

The final concept identified in the WGSN Trendtalk seminar dealt specifically with younger consumers. Bhui said this demographic wants to inject an element of self-expression in the products they use.

“For these consumers, it is less about telling people what to do with a product… but about giving them the open space where they can actually be a part of the design process themselves, and then they can modulate the product based on their particular needs.”

Designers could consider the world of animation, virtual reality and urban lifestyles when creating products for these consumers. Products might also reference the urban environment, the architecture of cities, straight lines, geometric patterns, vivid colour-blocking and functional materials that had a tactile quality.

This year’s HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair took place alongside the 8th HKTDC Hong Kong International Home Textiles and Furnishings Fair. The two events drew more than 2500 exhibitors from 28 countries and regions.

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