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Getting the right look

Looking to dress up that brand new home? Here’s a peek at some of the latest trends in furniture design

THE humble sofa is set to get all touchy-feely, judging by the emerging trends from the design capitals of the world.

Furniture designers often take their cue from what is put on show at cutting-edge exhibitions like the International Furniture Fair in Milan. And this year, whether the designs were whimsical or staid, much attention appears to have been put into getting the textures just right.

Mod Living’s director of sales and marketing Kim Foo said: ‘There was a lot of research and development done on manufacturing techniques and combinations of different and new materials for production.’ Putting your finger on the right trend is not just about being avant garde. It is also about good business, as Ms Foo well knows.

For Mod Living, Ms Foo estimates that their customers generally spend about $40,000 to furnish a living and dining room. This may sound like a lot but a good sofa can easily cost upwards of $10,000.

If you are looking to buy your next armchair, you might want to invest in exotic timbers too. Ms Foo expects a return to natural timbers with accentuated wood grains, ‘especially wood species from South Africa’.

A trend that has endured for several seasons now is classical styling with a modern twist, notes Ms Foo. For Mod Living, the Nube Sir armchairs epitomise this fascination. A combination of a traditional Chesterfield-inspired club chair with its typical deep, quilted-leather upholstery and state-of-the-art moulded teak-wood panels, the Nube Sir armchair consists of materials and technology that are as disparate as two ideas can possibly be, yet it somehow makes sense.

Retro designs still maintain their hold on the market as re-launched fabrics and designs from the 1950s and 1960s still prove popular. Examples of this are Moroso’s Print sofa by Marcel Wanders and Pierre Paulin’s Le Chat chair for Artifort, both brought in by Mod Living. Le Chat, designed in 1967, has been re-issued in a vintage fabric designed by Jack Lenor Larsen.

And this mood for visual experimentation is already catching on here. Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ (Nafa) head of the school of visual arts, Sabrina Long, who also makes a point of visiting fair shows around the world predicts more cutting edge designs too. ‘There was a lot of exploration into materials and technology,’ she noted of her recent jaunts.

These trends are, of course, nothing if they do not filter down and get accepted by the mainstream. It remains as art otherwise.

But already, touchy-feely designs by local designers are emerging, most recently by Sarafina Han Sisi, also a Nafa alumni whose hand-made ottomans or mini sofas made of PVC balls and covered in yarn take experimentation to an extreme. On Ms Han’s design, it is, ‘the willingness to explore a new material and execution’, that makes it very ‘current’, says Ms Long.

The truly creative, however, do not wait until something appears in a catalogue before recognising it as good taste.

Rather, they go in search of it themselves. And architect Andrew Tan of Seeds Architecture is finding inspiration in casinos. But it is not the obvious ‘casino style’ that appeals but rather the concept of ‘excess’ and the materials and textures that this implies.

Mr Tan also believes rich textures like leather will remain a mainstay in fashionable homes in the form of large sofas, preferably by Fendi. But these could be layered with bold foral prints, not unlike those that appeared on wallpapers not too long ago. ‘But wallpaper is out now,’ he says.

There are limits, though, to excessive excess. Chandeliers made a huge comeback several years ago for its outre glamour. Cheap imitation ones have since flooded the market – the scourge of most trends – and they hardly have the same appeal anymore.

Instead, stick to quality materials, suggests Mr Tan. ‘Swarovski makes chandeliers that are both modern and classic,’ he says. Any designer who can manage that will have a sure hit on their hands.


Source: Business Times 27 Sept 07

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