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Five Design Trends for 2018

Many industries mark the beginning of each year with trends and predictions for the months ahead. The design industry is no exception, as many manufacturers and press outlets report on new looks coming to the fore. And while we can’t be slavish to fads, these updates are always a useful reference as we contemplate our own design selections moving into 2018. Upon reviewing many of these reports, it’s notable to see how many of our choices, based on client requests, are in line with industry patterns. Here are five trends that stand out:


An obvious place to start, now that the major paint companies have declared their “official” colors for 2018. This year’s paint colors, for the most part, are dramatic and deeply saturated: Pantone named Ultra Violet, while Benjamin Moore identified Caliente—a rich, lipstick red—and Sherwin Williams announced Oceanside, a vivid teal. Glidden and Olympic, meanwhile, declared their own shades of black—Dee

Onyx and Black Magic—as the year’s official hues. Our designers have been turning to black as a neutral for several years, but what’s new is that the deep, jewel-tone shades that have emerged this year have a black base to them. That’s what gives them their moody feel—a palette that House Beautiful magazine identified for 2018. Those tones make wonderful complements to the cognac hues we’ve been gravitating toward in our work. “It’s in the bronze family with a touch of orange and a little bit of red,” Hartman Design Group founder Phyllis Hartman says. Its rich, earthy tone looks gorgeous in textiles, leather, porcelain and ceramics. Even better, the deep, black-based teals, blues and greens are a powerful complement to this cognac/terra cotta color; they come alive against each other where one draws out the richness in the other. contributor Jennifer Ott confirmed this point in the home-design website’s 2018 trend report: “Warm grays with rich, earthy shades will edge out cooler neutrals for a more sumptuous look,” she says. “I’m seeing a move toward warm grays and rich, earthy shades of camel, rust, tobacco and brown-blacks.”

Maximalist Design

Along with these deep colors, we’re seeing a return to pattern mixing. Layering pattern on pattern has to be done judiciously, of course, but we see the trend becoming popular among Millennials who want to create their own identity with energy and a sense of individual style. We are finding that this age group responds to design styles that are warm, inviting and homey. This gesture is exactly in line with recent trend reports out from and Dering Hall, both of which note increased appetites for eclectic design and the mixing of metals, texture and sheen. House Beautiful noted the comeback of bold, floral patterns in particular. “I love the resurgence on the feminine side of the big, beautiful florals,” Nancy Fire, creative director of HGTV Home, told the magazine. “It’s coming from a boho trend that’s more casual.” Along those lines, our clients are requesting fabrics and furnishings that exude comfort. Velvet, for example, used to be considered very formal, but when mixed in with wood accents like reclaimed lumber, the mood becomes much more inviting—not to mention that velvet is the perfect vehicle for these dark, striking colors that are so popular now. House Beautiful singled out velvet as its own trend, in fact, in its recent report. We’re also choosing plush furniture designs—nothing too precious—that invite condo and apartment residents to see their buildings’ public spaces as extensions of their own living area. We look for materials that embrace the person sitting on them; their tactile feel needs to create a sense of sanctuary. In its decorating report for 2018, Country Living magazine noted that shapely furniture—full of curves, no hard edges—is the thing to look for this year. Even CB2, known for its minimalist furnishings, is coming out this spring with furnishings that have more rounded silhouettes, the report said. Dering Hall also emphasized soft edges in furniture, which are so much more inviting than hard angles.

Minimalist Design

No, we’re not contradicting ourselves from above. Streamlined profiles and neutral color palettes are classic companions—they don’t come and go like pattern and color tend to do, particularly with Scandinavian elements such as modern frames with warm wood finishes. These settings are perennially relaxing, offering up space to escape the craziness of the world, both politically and technologically. Our requirement for this look, however, is that the interiors must be comprised of authentic materials. Because there is so little color, the design must assert itself through the texture of wood, iron, porcelain and natural textiles. Harper’s Bazaar produced a 2018 report focused entirely on emerging Scandinavian design elements, such as folding-style leather-backed wooden chairs and wood-slatted walls, which demonstrate how natural elements define an interior, rather than color or pattern. In this type of setting, anything synthetic would, quite literally, cheapen the look.

Mixed-Use Development

It’s one thing to have a well-appointed lobby with areas branching off for impromptu gatherings or quiet pursuits. But many of the new developments we’re working on include coffee shops, wine bars—even an entrance to Whole Foods—in that lobby mix.

It’s living in such a way that you’re surrounded by activity and people, yet there are still places where one can be “alone” in the middle of the fray. In our business, that’s called an “activated space,” which sparks engagement and sociability. As designers, it’s our job to make all these functions aesthetically pleasing, with a seamless flow between communal workspace, areas that are slightly more private, and open social space that lies just outside the retailers’ doors. Those priorities steer the design in a much more casual direction, focusing on life experience rather than pure aesthetics—a quality that’s echoed in nearly every residential interiors report this year.

Green Design

Clients are becoming ever more sensitive to environmentally friendly materials in their buildings’ architecture and interior design. Country Living, Dering Hall, and House Beautiful all pointed to natural accents such as wood, stone, and brick as a big design driver this year. Our Design Director, Anny Falgas states, “The use of natural finishes engages people with their environment and reiterates the desire to respect and connect with nature. It’s our own way of honoring nature through the means of design.” That trend continues to grow, so our default in selecting textiles, furnishings and other design elements is always to make choices that are sustainable, from FSC-certified and reclaimed woods to organic fabrics and recycled materials.

Written by Phyllis Hartman, ASID, LEED AP