In summer 2019, strong but subtle shades such as mango mojito, turmeric orange and chocolate brown are taking over our interiors. Mustard yellow, orange and brown set the tone for this trend – a clear hommage to the 1970s. After years of hankering after mid-century modern, the psychedelic hippy era is now back in fashion. It’s reclaiming our spaces, combining life-affirming colours with natural materials.
Harmonious lifestyle partners
‘Be bold with colour’ is paradoxically more often a maxim for summer rather than winter. But now it’s no longer restricted to our wardrobes – it has embraced our whole lifestyles. What began a few years ago with colourful velvet sofas has now expanded throughout the entire home. There’s lots of experimenting in the world of fashion, but despite our increasing confidence with decorating, loud colours are still used sparingly in interiors, since they’re so lively and dynamic.
What we need are colours that don’t take themselves too seriously. Mustard yellow, orange and brown are currently experiencing a renaissance: they’re strong enough to set the tone. Perhaps on an eye-catching chair among neutral surroundings? At the same time, they’re subtle enough to fill large areas of living space – perhaps on a wall or an inviting array of sofas. Such shades are taking over from more gaudy hues which recently tried to break through the grey uniformity. They blend in far more harmoniously, because they already occur more frequently in our natural environment.
Energy and joie de vivre – or cosy comfort
Take yellow for example: lighter shades are fresh as a summer breeze, sparking joy and carving out their own niche. Darker yellows, shading into amber, are elegant and refined. Another reason these shades are popular is that they contrast harmoniously with ultraviolet – which US institute Pantone named colour of the year in 2018. They also work well with this year’s favourite, millennial pink.
This summer’s colour medley also features orange, which somehow stands at the interface between analog and digital. Orange is in demand because it suits all seasons: in summer, orange symbolises energy and joie de vivre and in winter, cosy comfort. As orange is a mixture of red and yellow, it combines well with both these colours. When paired with earthier shades, wood or dark blue, orange takes on an elegant mantle. Pantone’s 2019 colour of the year also adopts this trend – ‘living coral’ sits somewhere between red, orange and pink, bringing warmth to your home with the modest blush of a pastel shade.
Wall to wall: Subdued shades are taking over entire rooms
One of the reasons behind this resurgence of colour is the 1970s revival, influenced by artists such as Andy Warhol and Verner Panton. This decade is edging into view after our attention was fixed for so long on mid-20th century furniture. In the 70s, dark brown furniture could happily be combined with browny-orange Flokati rugs. Popular colour combinations of the time included green, brown and orange. This prominent use of colour was often combined with psychedelic, geometric patterns – perhaps as a reaction to the drab post-war era. Nowadays this look is back in demand. Mosaic-style tiles fit well here and Pinterest predicts they’ll be among the most popular interior trends of 2019. Even wood-clad walls, which we banished from our interiors for decades, are no longer off limits. Once again, it’s acceptable to furnish wall-to-wall – with wall colours or carpets the same shade as floors and furniture.
While fashion firms – above all Gucci – have been looking to the 70s for several seasons, organic shapes, earthy shades, yellows and oranges are now also appearing in the world of furniture. For some time, brown was not welcome in interiors: it was too gloomy, outdated and not at all summery. That was until the trend for naturalness came to the rescue. For example, brown or cognac-coloured leather looks softer, gentler and more natural than black or white – and its natural hues add subtle colour in line with our love of nature, as seen in last year’s greenery trend. It’s only fitting that ceramics, earthenware and rust-coloured glass are undergoing a revival. Brown represents our authenticity, being down-to-earth but also cosy and warm: values people want to associate with these days.
In the 70s, designers chose to free themselves from the functional and all-too-rational modernist movements with strong, life-affirming colours whose slightly calmer, more grown-up cousins we’re welcoming back today. These summery hues – dark yellow, warm orange and natural brown – are often popular in tactile textile form, including velvets, bouclé and woven fabrics. They are colours to adorn teapots and watering cans, kitchen gadgets and vases, cushions and backpacks: products which don’t seem stuck in the past. However, these products do hark back to a time of optimism and fun, a period we all want to embrace.