The Las Vegas Market took place two weeks ago and was an interesting touchpoint for the furniture and home decor markets in the United States.
I came to the event with a couple questions in mind, namely: What's trending? And how's the Trump era going to affect national design trends?
I left with some answers, some nostalgia, some comfort, but also with some curiosity. Trumpian shifts are now in full swing, affecting all arenas of life, and will inevitably impact the design realm in a number of ways, shapes, and forms. I'm curious about what kinds of cultural changes might come about and how it'll inform the way people choose to furnish their homes.
But before we get to the evil empire discussion, let's first talk about some of the more enchanting trends I noticed at Las Vegas Market 2017.
The Cabin Porn Trend:
Chief among trends I noticed was that of sectioned-off logs. Yup. That's right. Logs. Log segments, actually, to be precise. These things were all over the place. On walls. On tabletops. Inside of tabletops. Hanging from ceilings. Placed on shelves. I'm actually surprised they weren't stuffed under sofa cushions. Or maybe they were, and I just didn't notice.
Some of the logs on walls had gold laid into them. Some of them had stenciled tree growth lines. Some of them were watercolored onto canvas. Some of them contained mirrors. But it was clear to me that, as predicted by Pantone, Sherman-Williams, and a number of other design-related companies, people would be feeling the need to connect more with nature this year.
Pantone named "Greenery" 2017's Color of the Year, and I see log obsession as being related to that trend. Many of us are glued to our smartphones, our computer screens, and are locked into stale corporatism. We want more than the weekend to commune with nature. We want to create cabin porn right here, right now, at home. Boom. Logs.
The Indigo Earth Trend:
At the Market, I also noticed the global/ multicultural and human-centric design trend. Sherman-Williams predicted that the upcoming year's design trends would reflect a feeling of greater global interconnectedness, increased cultural migration, and would be composed of handmade goods from Mexico to India and beyond. This was definitely apparent at the Market.
I see this trend as related to the reason for logs. Because of digital overstimulation and hyperconnectivity, people are craving items that bring a tactile experience to life. So in addition to logs, people want macrame, weavings, and shibori, or at least a product that looks like shibori.
Why shibori? Because it's a Japanese indigo-dyeing technique that reflects a kind of globalism in the home. One vendor at the show even labelled an entire bedroom set "indigo earth."
In that category, I'll include carved Buddha hangings, teepee lamps, and other ethnic handicrafts. Whether those items represent a form of cultural appropriation or not is another discussion. Of course, many of the items on display at the Las Vegas Market come from big design/furniture lines and are thus co-opted cultural items, but this is nothing new. If one wants the original product, she should buy directly from marginalized ethnic communities to the extent she can and/or try to buy from lines that fairly trade with these communities.
The Simulacra Trend:
Another trend at the Market was the simulacra trend. Cardboard representations of taxidermy; simulacra of natural items like leaves, flowers, and food. I mean are you kidding? I totally want copper representations of radishes, brussel sprouts, and green onions on my kitchen wall. Maybe this is related to the idea of not taking life that seriously. Of keeping things light, humorous, and fun. How crappy a day can it be when you have a cardboard rhino head mounted over your mantle?
I'm officially calling that tall silky chair, in the photo below, the Ivanka Trump boardroom chair. Because it just is. Trumpresentation was in full effect in Christopher Guy's showroom. Fur throws laid across glamorous beds in James Bond-like bedrooms; gilded light fixtures hung above fancy dining tables; and various forms of fabulous-lifestyles-are-us filled the showroom space. I felt legitimately like a Bond girl in that moment; I wanted to throw my diamond necklace on a bedside table and wrap a fur throw around my naked body after I stripped my clothes off. I'm sure I wasn't the only one either.
I was told that Christopher Guy's showroom looked just about the same last year (and most other years), so I don't want to draw a false connection between CG and Trump. But much of the furniture had a dark tone to it, which played right into the Sherwin-Williams predicted paint/theme of noir. Whether in reference to dark political times, night skies, midnight gardens, all of the above, or none of the above, I was feeling the Trumpian darkness at Christopher Guy.
This all made me wonder: where is design headed from here? You know, in the Trump era.
Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University thinks we're still in the psychological readjustment period after the election, and it'll be a little time before things move forward. She says, “There’s going to be a period of psychological readjustment and it will vary across consumer segments and then I think there will be a great relief and people will feel like they don’t have any control over this and people will move on.”
So perhaps we're still in the initial freak out period, and that's why there was no solid clue as to where things were headed at the Market. But after we all "move on," what will be happening in design?
It's my prediction that the Trump era will bring glamour, gold, and glitz back in style. We've all had our fun with DIY aesthetics, but that period is over, folks. People will be wanting to show their wealth moving forward. We've made it through the Great Recession; we've done our time digging our head in the sand; we've lived in a humble, unostentatious manner for long enough.
But that's over. In fact, I think the cultural zeitgeist is best summed up by Migos and the "Bad and Boujee" music video, which is all over the place these days. It's time to pop champagne and get money money. Even if we're just new money. Who cares? We may eat Cup O' Noodles and fried chicken at fast food joints, but we roll in with gold bottles of champagne, wear every piece of gold jewelry we own on our person, and wipe our lips with Versace scarves; we may eat cheap Chinese but our Chinese take-out boxes are Chanel; we may be rapping outside of a building in the projects, but we pulled up in a BMW SUV, rock shoulder-padded women's power suits, and will whip you senseless with a Moschino belt if you question us. We're bad. We're boujee. And we want everyone to know it.
For those who aren't on board with this kind of in-your-face riches aesthetic, mid-century modern furniture is still firmly established in the market and a design voice that many continue to latch onto. I don't see it waning that drastically in popularity for the time being. Also, high-design furniture reflecting expert craftsmanship and taste will continue to be a popular choice.
So before you go out and buy a Brioni suit, deck your house out in gilded everything, or join an exclusive country club, think about where you want to be on the spectrum. Green and loggy? Global and shibori? Bad and boujee? Gold and Bondy?
The choice is yours.