Deb Barrett: Market Report from the Spring European Design Shows

March 26, 2014

The first round of design shows in Europe is where the design world goes for inspiration, to discover design directions, and for suggestions that can shape new products. This year, spring was in the air (and very welcome for this winter weary reporter) as I sifted through the shows’ offerings to come up with some of the trends that will have the staying power to find their way into our homes this year.

Photos by Deb Barrett

Modern Romance
Things have lightened up: we’ve come up for air and we’ve let go of some of the political and economic drama that has weighed us down. The one place we can be in control is the home, and we have embraced it. We are reflecting on the past and looking for design narratives that display a love of romantic color, texture, and pattern and are light, delicate, and dreamlike.

Manufacturers and designers are flirting with overtly feminine looks and incorporating a pretty palette of ladylike pastels. Looks are blurred, diffused with refracted motifs that feel like fairytale grunge.

Photo by Deb Barrett

In the case of fabrics, the solids are frequently tone-on-tone while a mixture of matte and lustrous yarns gives many fabrics an interesting look. Satin makes a comeback this year.

Photo courtesy of Houlès

Floral motifs and prints are subtly filtered, altered, and screened back, making them more tonal. The result is a modern perspective on traditional looks. Patterns are worked as prints, beading, or embellishments. Details really become important—so look for pleats, ruffles, and trims and tassels back on the map.


Photo courtesy of Elitis

black edition

Photo courtesy of Black Edition

Believing that trim is making a comeback, Osborne and Little dressed their window as an undersea fantasy made entirely out of their new trimmings collection. Photo by Deb Barrett

Flora and Fauna
Romantic looks wouldn’t be complete without a floral print, and I saw a full-on bouquet of floral prints ranging from rose gardens to tropical and everything in between.

designers guild

Photo courtesy of Designers Guild

It was a feast of flora, or as one trend forecaster calls it, “Botanic Euphoria.” The range focuses on bold color and defined botanical details. Printed textiles show garden blooms and florals, particularly hydrangeas, roses, and pansies. Flowers and blossoms of every kind and size, from a scattering of tiny little flowers to big, picturesque blossoms à la Georgia O’Keefe, abound.

Beautiful, bold, hedonistic blooms that burst off the fabric in joyous abundance were introduced by Dandylion Designs at Maison and Objet. Photo courtesy of Dandylion

We’ve seen florals before, and the trend continues to evolve. Pixelated, brush stroked, painterly floral patterns flourish in all shapes and sizes. Painted and patterned furniture were even featured.

Photo courtesy of BlueBell Gray

Like most trends, as the cycle peaks it takes on new life by traveling a different path. We first saw literal floral looks and new colorways of traditional English gardens on light grounds; those morphed into watercolor and painterly florals; and now I see two new directions. First, toiles are revived in fresh colorations. Second, scattered blooms become packed and luscious on dark backgrounds in anthracite, mocha, or black. Brazen, bold, and beautiful, with references to the Dutch masters—there is an undeniable appeal.

toiles deb barrett

Photo by Deb Barrett

ellisa cashman

Photo courtesy of Ellie Cashman

dark floral bedding

Photo courtesy of Heimtextil

Photo courtesy of House of Hackney

zephyr and co

Photo courtesy of Maison & Objet

Complementing these patterns are bold, vivid stripes, modern embroidered sheers, and contemporary jacquard. To keep looks from getting too girly, fabrics are being mixed with basic grounds, textures, and solids.

manuel canovas

Photo courtesy of Manuel Canovas

With flora comes fauna, in the shape of delicate creatures such as butterflies, beetles, and dragonflies. And as the old adage says, “Put a bird on it and it’ll sell.” Next up? Fruits and veggies!


Photo courtesy of Maison & Objet

—Deb Barrett

Editor’s note: There are more trends to come. Visit the New England Home blog on Tuesday, April 1, to read more about Deb Barrett’s take on design trends based on the Eurorpean shows.

Deb Barrett is an award-winning designer who has built a reputation as a window covering expert, professional speaker, trend consultant, and author. She is the principal in Window Dressings, Inc., a couture window treatment and soft furnishings firm near Chicago. She is heading back to Europe for Decorex 2014 as leader of an IDS tour of the event. Details about the tour can be found on Deb’s website.

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