You could blame it on the popularity of home renovation television shows, Instagram or Pinterest but it seems there has never been a bigger focus on interior design. And it’s something Australia’s design heavyweights have noticed too. “It is clear that the impact of design on our lives, both at work and home, is continuing to gain momentum. It seems that the industry is more involved than ever in a vast range of projects from small renovations to large scale public spaces,” says Fiona Lynch, director of Fiona Lynch. It’s exciting times for interior lovers.
“Interestingly, one of the greatest influences on design has been the popularity of Instagram. We now have greater access to designers from around the world and can see the latest design exhibitions in real time,” says Fiona, referring to the indelible mark that technology has left on the design scene.
From natural materials to clever use of colour and the bespoke trend, we spoke to this year’s Australian Interior Design Awards’ judges to get their take on what they are expecting from this year’s entrants and the role of design in 2017.
The push to revitalise existing properties and celebrate the past shows no sign of abating. “Currently, there is an emphasis on adaptive re-use with many opting to strip back existing buildings to their bare bones and work within the context of the building’s original structure to expose and celebrate its authenticity. This, combined with a focus on enhancing daylight opportunities, the use of natural and highly textured materials, smooth neutral tones and the inclusion of foliage and lush greens, informs the approach we are seeing today,” says Sonda Banney, head of interior design at Architectus.
Related to Sonda’s comments above, 2017 will see natural materials at the forefront of design yet again. “This year, I am expecting to see an increased demand for the handmade, with many seeking out the imperfect beauty of more authentic, natural materials. With a progressive approach, these materials can be reinterpreted in new ways, building on less traditional notions of luxury,” says Sophia Leopardi, director of Williams Burton Leopardi.
While monochrome interiors are still going strong, 2017 will see a return to more enthusiastic use of colour. “This year, I expect to see a lot more colour-blocking come to the fore. I have seen a number of designers keeping colour tonal where all finishes are in the same shades. Opposite to this is a pared back approach to materials where site-specific elements are retained and then juxtaposed against detailed design elements in rich materials,” says Fiona.
Eschewing the cookie cutter, generic design approach of the past, there will be a huge emphasis on bespoke design in 2017 too. “Every client is seeking a design solution that reflects and speaks to themselves and their aspirations. With an endless stream of looks and styles presented within all types of media, it is the role of the designer, now more than ever, to elevate and enrich projects with personal, original and progressive ideas,” says Sophia.
It’s something we have written about and there’s no doubt there has been a push to support local makers of late. “In Australia, there is definite growth in the local furniture market, which is great to see, both in terms of design and production. This year I am expecting to see some high-quality pieces being developed for the international market as well as the local one,” says Mark Simpson, director of DesignOffice.
Photography: Felix Forest, Brooke Holm & Marsha Golemac and Justin Alexander