Home & Garden

LINES ON DESIGN | A cautionary take on trends

Jeff Draker

Interior designer at Dwell
Jeff Draker Interior designer at Dwell

At first I felt a little bad writing about design trends only to say trends ultimately don’t matter. Trends and new products are among the reasons thousands of residential designers descend on High Point Market in North Carolina twice a year.

Trends influence what people see online, in stores and magazines, and they influence what people buy. So there’s economic value. Trends also influence people’s perception of design. This is where I take issue with trends.

Frankly, they reduce design to a popularity contest. The hot colors, the predominant wood species, the latest furniture profiles - these are the opinions of some that have been heralded by companies and design circles. But what’s popular for many surely isn’t for everyone.

I understand wanting to know what’s in, out and on the horizon, but I’ve never believed people should live and redesign solely by these standards. If everyone embraced the same aesthetic, homes would become indistinguishable from one another - which I believe is the antithesis of what homes should look like.

Personal choices, unique perspectives and sentimental items transform a shelter into someone’s home. These decisions reflect people’s personalities, life experiences and values. I would expect these to be different for everyone.

People have to live in their spaces and with changes designers may propose for their homes.

First and foremost, the changes need to be things clients like regardless of whether it’s in vogue. That’s why getting to know clients - what they like, who uses the room and how they use the room - is essential for interior designers. It’s pointless to gravitate toward something trendy if it’s in opposition to the client’s needs.

To Market

Interior design is more than what’s popular. “Rooms can be done beautifully no matter what,” said Jeff Draker, an interior designer and vice president of Dwell Home Furnishings & Interior Design in Coralville.

That’s because what matters are the tools designers use - line, shape, form, color, texture, space and value - and how they apply them - pattern, contrast, emphasis, balance, proportion/scale, harmony and rhythm.


Rather than being ready to rattle off a list when people ask what the most popular colors are, Draker’s approach is to be aware and informed about trends. Draker is part of a buying team that goes to High Point Market to be among the first to see what’s new. He brings this knowledge back to curate a current showroom and a destination for customers to find inspiration.

For Draker, inspiration at Market - which consists of multiple buildings spanning more than 11.5 million square feet of showroom - starts with rugs, specifically vintage and one-of-a-kinds he said set the tone for the room. Knowing the room’s emphasis, or focal point, will help people know what’s appropriate for the space.

Heriz rugs, with their orange and copper colors, work well with mid-century design, Draker said.

These rugs are woven by memory in villages in northwestern Iran and are particularly durable because of the area’s copper deposits. Water the sheep drink has trace amounts of copper, which improves the resiliency and strength of the wool.

Comparing the market experience to the range of choices available at a grocery store, Draker said what he likes can depend on his mood or needs of the showroom.

Sometimes items make it to the showroom as a backdrop and become hits with customers. For instance, there are a handful of oversized, round woven hanging baskets that create the illusion of a green canopy above a space. The installation, Draker said, shows customers how an item could be used. Then there are plenty of items that people like to see but at the same time say they would never use in their homes.

At least half of design is subjective like how I gravitate toward Cookies and Cream instead of Neopolitan when on an ice cream run. Both have vanilla and chocolate, but for me the cookies give a taste and texture advantage.

To the trends

A couple final notes on trends. Whether it’s textiles, motifs or furniture, there are always traces of past eras, styles and influences in new products. Draker, who’s been going to market for 20 years, said that nothing really changes. That’s because designers frequently revisit and reinvent classic pieces. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair can take a trendy turn by being upholstered in a pink fabric rather than black leather. Keeping in mind that it’s good enough just to be aware of trends, here are some themes you will see.

l Color: Expect to see a range of color families from deep purple to a soft lavender, warm gold to fiery red-orange, greens from Kiwi to Emerald and greys with a purple cast. “Orange and yellow - they create an opinion real quick,” Draker said.

l That ‘70s look: Evidence can be seen of this decade that was bold but not necessarily in a good way. Materials such as chrome, wicker and macrame are appearing along with bold, graphic art. Draker said people are taking more time to warm up to the ‘70s. “They don’t want to remember because of disco,” Draker said jokingly.


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l Finishes: Remember the golden oak of the 1990s? It’s back. Casegoods are using fumed yellow quarter sawn oak. Wood is exposed to ammonia during fuming, or smoking, which darkens the wood by bringing tannins closer to the surface and highlights the grain. Dry finishes, which give wooden casegoods a matte appearance, are more prevalent. Be aware, this finish is prone to absorbing oil. Clean wood by dusting and do not use any wax-based detergents. In addition, there are oxidized metals that give a patina look.

l Furniture: There’s a growing number of sofas and chairs with horizontal and vertical channeling, reviving an Art Deco aesthetic. Chairs also are being shown with angled silhouettes and the influence of Italian design. Curved sofas, which provide variety to the horizontal lines in a room, also are appearing.

For people who like to redecorate frequently, please donate or resell the outgoing pieces. While new purchases are great, they draw upon limited resources, increase our carbon footprint when sourced from across the country or the world and add to the landfill if not properly recycled.

l Erin Owen graduated from the interior design program at Kirkwood Community College. She has worked as a commercial and residential interior designer. Have a question about interior design? Contact her at erin.n.owen@gmail.com.

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