Global trend forecasting body WGSN has published a brand new report brimming with ideas across product, fashion and interior design. It’s packed full of innovative style ideas, behind which lies a careful analysis of consumer feeling and behaviour. Looking closely at the impact of global events on societal mood, and how we respond as consumers, the WGSN report is as informed as it is visionary. Keen to convey that the forecast isn’t about ‘pop up’ trends, we learned that WGSN prefers to focus on evolving patterns. These slow burning trends develop gradually in response to the changing world around us. Spanning trends in home decor to innovative landscapes appearing in the public domain, the experts at WGSN examine what makes us tick in order to form predictions around unfurling trends.
Clerkenwell Design Week provided the opportunity to hear a panel of leading contributors unpack the report. They shed light on four leading trends appearing on the global stage, namely bilingual interiors, sugared Scandi, recharged wellness and fluent translation. We’re going to take a closer look at one trend which is rapidly gaining speed within the sphere of hospitality design: bilingual interiors.
What does this term mean?
Bilingual interiors is a response to the globalisation of the design mindset. A term coined to describe the impact of technology on an increasingly interconnected planet, globalisation is also the catalyst behind an exciting conversation unfolding in the design world. International travel has never been more accessible, enabling more people to experience life outside of their domestic domain. As we see cultures colliding across communities, cities and through travel, many questions have been raised by leading creative thinkers. Predominantly, how will the design community channel this cultural medley to generate new design concepts? Can these mercurial horizons inspire innovative thinking around interior – and in particular, hospitality – design?
Visual inspiration from lands afar is available at the mere click of a finger. Now, more than ever, is a time to embrace the creative opportunities afforded by exposure to so much diversity. Contrary to the positive side of cultural integration is the unsettling rise of xenophobia across Europe, Asia and the USA, a symptom of hostility towards this global merging of cultures. Fusion design, by contrast, is an open – and exposed – celebration of multiformity. Central to the communal arena of shops, hotels, restaurants and cafes, hospitality design is a subliminal permeation of public thought. It seeks to create impactful environments which not only stimulate creativity but inspire affection toward other cultural landscapes.
No longer tied to the framework of reference surrounding the host culture, bilingual interiors seek to break down borders and create a rich hybrid experience. By tapping into the authenticity of varied cultural traditions, we discover scope for enormous creativity. Designers are able to explore an unlimited pool of inspiration across a diverse cultural field, merging techniques, materials and aesthetics. Creatively, it’s a challenge and a fresh call to think outside of the box. What might traditional Mexican textile design contribute to a sleek East Coast bar? Or intricate oriental touches to a Parisian bistro? It might sound mad, but therein lies the fun of it.
Are there any leading examples of fusion design?
A brilliant illustration of fusion hospitality design is the eclectic John Anthony restaurant in Hong Kong, which was completed in 2018. The brainchild of Linehouse Studio, this dapper eatery takes its cue from the story of the first Chinese-born man, John Anthony, to become naturalised as a British citizen in 1805. Anthony’s job in the London east end comprised of feeding Chinese sailors as they arrived in the docks. The designers at Linehouse wanted to capture this meeting of familiar – and yet foreign – worlds, drawing on visual references from Anthony’s own journey to Great Britain. Characterised by a dual sense of familiarity and discovery, the decor features an array of glazed tiles, terracotta, rattan furniture and botanical upholstery. The magic lies in the skilled eclecticism of the design: functional booth seating is countered by elegant scalloped arches and delicate hand-woven wicker pendants. Standing at the helm of this cultural junction, one can’t help but sense the strange new world through Anthony’s own eyes. A feat of fusion design, the interior captures the industrial vibe of a Chinese canteen accented with the chintzy sensibility of a British tearoom. For the modern day diner, it is a space designed to channel a functional dining experience without any impression of servility.
Is eclecticism key to bilingual interiors?
Worth noting is that fusion design does not necessarily speak to the merging of styles with an overtly contrasting aesthetic. A new term tripping off the lips of designers is scandinese, a serene hybrid of Japanese and Scandinavian influences. To the naked eye, Scandinavia and Japan share obvious similarities in their approach to interior design. They both elevate values of functional beauty with a strong mutual emphasis on using natural materials and tones. Combining the Japanese ultra minimalist approach to simplistic interiors with the Scandinavian eye for beautiful sweeping forms, scandinese is an empowerment of both aesthetics.
With its luminous impression of openness and light, the Ryo Kan hotel in Mexico City is cited as a shining example of scandinese design. The concept of a ryokan, the Japanese word referring to a traditional inn, lies behind the naming of the hotel. Guided by an east-meets-west fusion, designers opted for beautifully crafted Scandi-inspired furniture in lieu of more traditional tatami mats and low level dining. In similar fashion, the onsen hot spring rooms feature deep set bath tubs, calling to mind the peaceful curving shape of seashells. Thus the connection forged by Scandinavians between nature and design collides with the Japanese eye for minimalist simplicity, resulting in a tranquil and discerning space.
Are you inspired by the rise of bilingual interiors? The word ‘eclectic’ usually alludes to miscellany, a collection of random items which happen to sit together in harmony. This trend sets the challenge one bar higher. Bilingual interiors speak to those who relish the task of interpretation. As one cultural framework encounters another, it is the designer’s skill which will creatively translate this symbiosis into something unique and astonishing …Just don’t get lost in translation.
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Title image: dezeen.com