CW Interiors |
Feature One | January 2015

Design trends East or West?

In an age when boundaries are blurring and communication has brought the world closer, how can we ascertain the origin of trends? Who leads the design race - the West or the East? Read on to know the answers.

Constantly evolving designs and increasing consumer demands is now creating a near perfect scenario in the design world, where the supply of interior products is getting better. Sustainable, eco-friendly development is walking in-step with technology and modernity. Design trends are in top demand now, both in the Indian sub-continent and in the West. But are these trends in the East and the West running parallel to each other or will they meet along the way?
Here we look at five categories - bath and sanitaryware, kitchens, furnishing, building materials, lighting and electrical - and take into account the Indian viewpoint and international trends.

Bath and sanitary ware
The Indian bathroom scene witnessed a paradigm shift in the last few years or so. From being a utilitarian room it has upscaled into a space that is given as much attention as a bedroom or living room. This has spawned a range of bathroom products, including bathroom tiles, faucets and sanitary-ware. Brands like Cera, Parryware, Hindware, Kohler and Jaguar are offering quality products, factoring cost competitiveness and innovation.

Innovations such as heated towel rails, Bluetooth in showers, LCD touch-screen display, radio, mobile phone connection, ozone sterilisation in steam fences and under-the-floor heating are in, while chunky mouldings, overhead lights and blocky sanitaryware are out.

Samir Kulkarni, Principal Architect, Pomegranate Designs says, - Sleek, intelligent and innovative design is the new mantra. Eco-friendly products are better. A mix of materials like glass, stainless steel, composite resins, colourful mosaics, mirrors and good quality ceramics can help designers convert client - s dreams into reality. - - The increasing demand for spas proves the need to seek a place to escape. Designers and architects are now adding those solace spaces inside the home with steam shower rooms, saunas, whirlpool baths and hot tubs, - says Shilpa Jain Balvally and Samir Balvally, Principal Architects, Studio Osmosis. She adds, - Bathrooms now have upgraded and automated plumbing fixtures, steam showers, multiple shower heads as well as premium finishes, rain showers, larger diameter water spouts and mood lighting (LED). -

International trend
At the Cersaie Exhibition held in September 2014, in Bologna, Italy, the latest innovations in tiles, taps, sanitaryware and other bathroom accessories were witnessed. This year, two major trends emerged. Marble and other natural stones are in with porcelain tiles replicating this look. With efficient product manufacture, the impact on environment is also minimalised. Design pundits applauded actual wood tiles. A new digital inkjet technology that glazes the wood grains was also introduced.

The second trend was the popularity of colours in the bathroom, with bright orange and deep purple being favourites. Wallpapers, too, have made their way into the bathrooms. Amongst faucets, taps and sanitaryware, innovation and design ruled with special focus on water-saving technology.

Brand talk
Swiss company Laufen, associated with bath and sanitaryware since 1892, considers technology, service and design as its specialty. In 2013 the brand created wafer thin ceramic with robust walls and tight edge radii of just 1-2 mm. Christened SaphirKeramik, this is a highly coveted product in the design world.

One of its designers, Peter Wiz believes in democratising design by adding value to it whilst keeping it affordable. With Laufen, his brief was to create a product for an already well-integrated range. To add value to the sink, he´gave up on some curves - to increase water volume capacity.

´Democratic design - appears to be the anthem for all international designers. Phillipe Starck - s designs for Hansgrohe - s designer brand Axor are a manifestation of this belief. His trend forecast includes natural light, warm materials and ´back to the roots - feel. Hansgrohe has been ranked 17th in the IF Design Awards list by the most prestigious international forum on design.

What - s Hot: Wafer thin sinks, under-the-floor heating, Bluetooth in showers, and bright colours in bathrooms.

Indian kitchens have always been the battleground of culinary exploits. Often the kitchen doubles up as dining space, and sometimes a prayer room, too, so designing the Indian kitchen is no mean task. Convenience rules most kitchen designs. Open kitchens, integrated work areas, space-saving smart ideas, chalk board backsplashes, refrigerator drawers, stainless steel counters have taken over modern life and have overshadowed the traditional elements. Speed and practicality are in, while trapezoid chimneys, dining tables, ordinary refrigerators are out.

According to Sameer Balvally, Studio Osmosis, - The use of high-end fittings with soft touch, smooth closing, and LED integrated hardware is on the rise. The overall appearance of the kitchen has become sophisticated, sleek and clutter-less. - Rubina Chadha, Owner, Home Works, says, - The kitchen design is a game changer. For any house maker it is important to know what we think as designers. What is hot, what to buy, what is worth the money spent´ Dynamic functionality is going to be the buzzword for kitchens. -

Eco-friendliness is also another phrase that has entered the Indian kitchen. From induction countertops to adaptive defrost technology refrigerators, to energy saving washer dryers, products have to be eco-friendly and energy saving. Steel in all forms and finishes with black introduced through ceramics and kitchen linen clinch the design scene.

International Trend
Internationally, kitchen trends are veering towards combinations of styles and textures. Unfinished or reclaimed wood paired with stainless steel, copper, bronze or glass. Textured stone and reclaimed wood countertops and open shelves are a common trend. Large pullout drawers that automatically light up when opened are replacing cupboards for storage. Drawer handles have almost disappeared. Backsplashes slide back at the touch of a button to reveal storage space. Ultra slim kitchen countertops slide over countertops, creating a larger hands-on space when required and cupboard doors fold and slide back by themselves. Even kitchen lighting is all trussed up as low hanging, multiple pendants have taken over.

Brand talk
On the design front, the Italian company Toncelli brought in carbon fibre for peninsula and hanging wall units. Carbon fibre is resistant to heat and chemicals. Their new show window ´Invisible - uses this along with a new varnishing material made from liquid metal that gives an unparalleled sheen to wall cabinets. A unique feature of this kitchen is the total absence of grooves and handles and the smart usage of technology. A home automation system with a web connection and a touch screen has been incorporated into a countertop design.

At EuroCucina 2014, the annually held International Kitchen Furniture Exhibition, the cynosure of all eyes was the Brummel Kitchens - Mobile Bar. Open kitchen plans allowed free flow of conversation. Now, the kitchen itself has decided to take a little walk. The mobile bar is a start. Apart from drinks, it has an ice maker, bottle and glass holders, a small sink and a mini stove - a perfect add-on to a contemporary and uber-luxe style.

What - s Hot: Sleek finishes, black colour, refrigerated drawers, mobile bars and slideover kitchen countertops.

Furnishing trends have done a volte face in the last few years in the Indian context. Leather and textured furnishings, considered really hot once, have become passT now. Faux stingray and crocodile patterned upholstery, bejeweled and dazzling coloured textiles are in vogue. Bold colours, digital print and natural fabrics have replaced leather and pastel shades.

Anjie Kriplani, Interior Designer, Renaisaance Homez, says, - Furnishings with twists of yellow, gold and silver define the current trend and style. Digital prints in soft furnishings and metallic colours in cush¡ions, bedspreads are the choices of the season. -

International Trend
Accessorising a room has become hugely important in the international market. Rugs, runners or throw cushions in co-ordinated colours can pretty up a room instantly. Similarly, a plain white bathroom can be perked up by some brightly coloured towels and countertop accessories, ditto with flowers in the kitchen and stunning linen in the bedroom.

The best from the world of furnishing is showcased at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Milan. Decorative weaves, linen, deco¡rative linen, natural weaves are the trendsetters this year according to international furnishing house Romo, which has introduced all of these in their new range of furnishing. According to this 100-plus year old company, with presence in over 70 countries, stunning feature prints, statement weaves, classic jacquards, contem¡porary sheers, blackout fabrics, wide-width weaves and practical chenille are also in. World leaders in furnishing design, Romo has many awards to its credit, including the Best British Pattern by Elle Decoration British Design Awards 2014, for their Big Smile by Jessica Zoob design. The Pantone colour of the year 2015 is Marsala and most international furnishing brands are reflecting this. Kravet, a premium brand has beautiful textures in plains and prints offering instant options for designers who want to incorporate Marsala into ongoing projects. Marsala can be used as one solid colour or to accentuate other colours. Naturally, this colour will dominate the furnishing world for the next 12 months.

What - s Hot: Bejewelled furnishing, colour Marsala, paintings reproduced as digital prints and decorative linen.

Building materials (Tiles, marble, paints, wallpapers)
The last couple of years have seen some noticeable changes in the building materials category. While vitrified tiles are still in, it - s engineered quartz that - s making inroads. Glitzy, semi-precious stones studded tiles are also being picked up for designer bathrooms and bedrooms. Selection of materials is determined by various factors such as - solar, thermal and insulation needs, geographical locations and context, socio-environmental awareness, space limitations, fire and safety requirements, lifestyle and economic status. Interestingly the dependence on imported materials has reduced.

Amit Khanna, Principal Designer, Amit Khanna Design Associates observes, - As the market expands and becomes more mature, many manufacturers have stopped trying to imitate imported surfaces and are looking to add more Indian designs to their range. Non-VOC paints are now available from many more sources and are slowly becoming the standard in the market. As designers use more Indian marbles, the backend processing for these has also improved and it is now possible to specify thick pre-polished large slabs of local materials, which are preferred over the thin and inherently weak imported marble. -

Innovating walls with varied type of paint and paint techniques are coming up. The current trend is the revival of rustic and vintage shades. Rough, uneven finishes or even flaky and cracked surfaces are getting popular.

International Trend:
Internationally, a large part of the building materials market has been taken over by green building. In the United States, this segment is worth over $60 billion. Products like cork, bamboo and woven flooring have become trendy. Concrete production from recycled materials has seen tremendous growth, same goes for wood from sustainable forests.

Stephen Selkowitz is an American researcher focusing on building energy efficiency projects and has even been nicknamed ´Steve Jobs in the world of energy efficiency buildings - for deve¡loping - low e - or low emissivity window coatings that helped to block heat. This technology is now used by buildings across the globe and has saved US $7.7 billion in energy costs. In 2013, he and his team launched the ´most advanced building efficiency simulator in the world - and the Facility for Low Energy Experiments. Users can utilise this on a trial basis to check energy efficiency features for skylights, window materials and cooling systems. After this, they can use the system on commercial projects.

The second trendsetter is Pavegen, a new kind of tile that converts the kinetic energy of footsteps to electricity. The energy generated can also be stored in batteries. Already, Pavegen tiles have been incorporated in cities like London, New York and Omer (France). The surface of Pavegen is made from 100 per cent recycled rubber. The 2015 trend for paints is inspired by nature and the ocean - mint green and pale blue as well as beiges, whites and pink-browns of the sand, mud and driftwood. Replicating the colour choices of Europe and United States in the 1960s, the retro look is back with a bright, sunny yellow, which is used to highlight certain walls. Farrow & Ball - s bright yellow, 'Yellowcake No.279', is big-time in.

What - s Hot: Green buildings, retro yellow, colours of the ocean, wood, cork, bamboo

Lighting and Electricals
Lighting scenario has become more complex now. While users have different needs and requirements, the market also offers a wide variety- energy saving lights, controlled lighting, environment friendly lighting et al. While LED lighting has become the norm, automation of lighting and curtain control air-conditioning system are also becoming popular.

International Trend:
There are several electrical trends that have emerged this year at Lightfair, the world - s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show. Foremost is the LED chips trend that can now deliver the exact colour and warmth desired in a room. New lighting control systems show the ability to fine-tune the light output. Next is controlled outdoor lighting, with wireless communications system to monitor and control the lights. A networked control system can provide 30 per cent reduction in street lighting (that amounts to 40 per cent electricity costs of municipality) by pinpointing electrical power problems.

What - s Hot: Wireless light control for outdoor lighting, LED lights
Doors and windows

In India, doors and windows scenario is now being defined by mechanised window panes, integrated louvers, UPVC as an alternative to wood and aluminum. Installing energy-efficient doors and windows is an investment that is worth the cost. Wood, steel and glass are the three contenders in this section. Single exterior steel doors with wood like finish and large window panes are in.

International trends
Energy and environmental performance con¡tinue to rule the European market. Sustainability, recyclability and durability are new additions to the vocabulary of architecture. A more holistic approach that includes thermal and water performance, in addition to environmental and sustainability performance is being factored by the European window and door industry.

Two trends in the product interface include large sliding doors and colour in vinyl windows. The 16x18x20 feet full slide systems are becoming popular in Europe and United States. Old vinyl windows are replaced with new coloured ones.

What - s Hot: Mechanised window panes and large 16x20 feet sliding doors

In India, design patterns and trends are moving dramatically from the traditional to the modern, with the trend of mixing the contemporary with the classic. Internationally, the focus is pin-centric on sustainability, recycling, energy reuse, energy reduction coupled with innovation and high-end style.


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