– Words by Laura Goldstein Photography by Lia Crowe
In 1981, it was Faith Popcorn and her TrendBank who first coined the interior design term “cocooning.” She defined it as, “the need to protect oneself from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world.”
Today, nothing could be closer to that truth.
Returning to their former in-person glory after several years of COVID-19 shutdowns, local and international design fairs—ranging from IDS Vancouver’s New Futures, New York Design Week, Salone del Mobile (Milan) and Maison & Objet (Paris)—all expressed similar interpretations of design trends for 2023: it’s out with the pared-down, straight lines and neutrals, and in with colour, curvaceous furniture and sculptural lighting, all wrapped in eco-conscious comfort!
1. Eco-friendly and sustainability in 2023: who knew a vegetable could be so inspiring?
If you watched the award-winning documentary Fantastic Fungi on Netflix, you know about the incredible communicative and medicinal properties of mushrooms and their mycelium roots.
Fashion designer and eco-philanthropist Stella McCartney recently collaborated with B&B Italia to re-imagine Mario Bellini’s iconic 1972 Bambole Chair for her Fungi Forest iteration. With its hand-drawn mushroom-patterned upholstery, the chair can be completely disassembled for recycling when the time is right.
Brooklyn-based biodesigner Danielle Trofe, of Danielle Trofe studio, has taken this ecological phenomenon a step further by working with living organisms to produce contemporary, sustainable lighting. By allowing the mycelium to grow over a few days around clean agricultural waste, such as hemp, corn stalks or husks, the injected mycelium binds the waste together, forming a solid shape. She packs the materials into 3D-printed lampshade molds.
“Grown in a lab, the mycelium product is very sustainable and there are no off-gases or leaching into the earth,” says Danielle from her studio in Brooklyn.
Her very cool collaborations with restaurants and boutiques also include MushLume lighting lampshades and pendants adorning the Westley Calgary Downtown, Tapestry Collection by Hilton.
Renee Switzer, co-founder and principal of SwitzerCultCreative in Vancouver, has championed BC and international makers of high-end furniture and lighting for over 25 years.
“Danielle’s approach to organic sustainability with her MushLume Lighting Collection is so simple yet fascinating and complements both residential and commercial design,” she explains. “I’m also a big fan of Kirk Van Ludwig’s Autonomous Furniture out of Victoria because the beautifully designed contemporary pieces are sourced from re-purposed wood and use non-toxic finishes.”
Peruvian-born sculptor and furniture craftsman German Aguirre, of German Aguirre Design Atelier in Vancouver, expresses his interconnectedness with nature as “of the earth.”
A former guide in the Amazon during a gap year at school, he is influenced by the ephemeral nature of mandala abstract art. Showcased at IDS Vancouver, the intricate organic tabletop designs of his Mycelium: Seed Line Collection are created with huayruros, quinoa, chia, shihuahuaco seeds and black beans, meticulously patterned in layers of eco-friendly resin.
“I grew up admiring the artists of Peru and their use of stones, wood, engravings and natural elements,” German explains. “I want to tell a story through my pieces with a modern interpretation.”
2. Furniture and fabrics: curves in all the right places
The voluptuous curved configurations in jewel and earthy hues of the 1920s Art Deco period are trending for 2023. Undulating sofas and chairs in luxurious fabrics are an emotional enticement to sit (or better, lie down) in cocooning comfort.
“We’ve noticed our clients have started shifting their aesthetic from pared-down white interiors to colour and have become more adventurous with softer furniture shapes. It’s all about comfort and less architectural,” says Jennifer Heffel, owner and principal interior designer of HB Design in Vancouver. “There are a lot of beautiful emerald greens, mocha, amber, caramels and rich navy, and not just in principal rooms, but kitchens too.”
All things textural, from soft furnishings like pillows and throws to upholstered furniture, a trend which began in 2022 (including the sherpa fabric craze), have morphed into a total sensory experience in 2023.
Italian brand Poliform’s Saint-Germain Sofa and Le Club Armchairs come in multiple configurations with removable fabrics in scrumptious colours, and they are as snuggly and soft as an oversized sweater. They’re available in certified natural and regenerated materials in nubby bouclé wools, linen, velvets and viscose jacquards.
3. Kitchen culture
You almost expect dinner ready and waiting for you in the newly opened HABITAT by Aeon in Vancouver because it showcases eight full-sized kitchens for 2023, ranging from Italian modern to traditional and rustic. Streamlined functionality is key to this year’s kitchen designs with attention to sinks, faucets and prep-chef accessories.
“Coloured cabinetry and islands, a trend towards charcoal or even lighter woods, almost the colour of teak, will be popular in 2023,” says Jennifer at HB Design.
4. Pantone colours of the year: The bible of colour marketing 2023
Who can forget that iconic “cerulean sweater” speech in the film The Devil Wears Prada? Meryl Streep, playing the editor of a fictional Vogue-ish magazine, condescendingly lectures her naive assistant, played by Anne Hathaway, on how colour forecasters dictate everything—from fashion to interior design, graphic arts, architecture and, yes, even nail polish. Then, unbeknownst to the general public, these pre-selected colours filter down to the choices made by Jane and John Doe.
The Pantone Color Institute is a US consulting service that forecasts global colour trends and advises companies in brand identity and product development using colour as a strategic asset. It has deemed Viva Magenta the 2023 colour of the year, along with Digital Lavender, Oyster Mushroom, Mocha Mousse and Bluing.
Paint companies like Benjamin Moore also predict colours of the year. For 2023, Benjamin Moore has gone with Raspberry Blush, a vivid mix of coral and pink, as its newest charismatic statement colour for interiors in 2023.
5. Let there be light: decorative and sculptural lighting for 2023
Pendant lighting, floor lamps and wall mounts are so sculptural they’ve evolved into pieces of art in their own right, and can’t help but elicit an emotional response. The statement lighting reflects our love of nature and brings the elements of the outdoors inside.
Israeli lighting company Aqua Creations’ sculptural, abstract interpretations of sea life make stunning additions to residences, hotels and restaurants. Created by hand in gorgeous hues of pleated silk, the spectacular coral reefs in the Red Sea have influenced co-founder Albi Serfaty’s designs, such as Morning Glory. His newest collection of pendant and wall-mounted lighting is entitled Lakes: Light On Water, which is re-imagined by looking at aerial views of bodies of water.
“They are geometric interpretations of the shape of lakes, drawing attention to water ecosystems, and were recently launched at Design Miami,” Albi says from his studio near Tel Aviv.
Requiem, by British lighting designer Lee Broom, premiered at Salone del Mobile, Milan. The hand-sculpted limited-edition pieces mimic the marble drapery sheathed across ancient statues. Because all the electrical components are hidden, they appear magically suspended in mid-air.
6. Wallpaper: it’s okay to be a wallflower
Wallpaper and wallpaper murals just keep getting bolder and more colourful in 2023, with florals and tropical designs front and centre. Stunning Japandi and Chinoiserie motifs have been made possible with digital printing techniques, according to Swedish design studio Rebel Walls, which ships worldwide.
Just like sustainable fabrics, wallpaper in natural fibres like grasscloth, silk and bamboo adds texture and warmth to any room. Art Deco is not only trending in furniture design, as eye-catching geometrics and abstracts that were popularized the ‘20s and ‘30s are showing up in wallpaper motifs.
In 2023, let’s be adventurous. Try a new trend or two. After all, adding calm and sophistication to our homes is the essence of cocooning and we all need a little joie de vivre.