2019 design trends: back to nature before the technology invasion - Lifestyle NZ
2019 design trends: back to nature before the technology invasion

2019 design trends: back to nature before the technology invasion

The key design trend for 2019–20 acknowledges the benefits of ‘nature’, ‘craft’ and ‘touch’. “It’s like we are going back to our natural roots before the invasion of technology,” says industry expert Mark Phelong, who spoke with ArchiPro managing editor Justine Harvey

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

The key design trends for 2019–2020 acknowledge the benefits of ‘nature’, ‘craft’ and ‘touch’. “It’s like we are going back to our natural roots before the invasion of technology,” says industry expert Mark Pheloung, who spoke with ArchiPro managing editor Justine Harvey.

Mark Pheloung has been attending the world’s leading design fair, the Salone del Mobile in Milan, for the past 37 years – to keep up to date with the latest furniture, products and trends for his family company, Collage; which imports furniture to supply for residential and commercial projects around New Zealand.  

“Milan’s Salone del Mobile is the best design show in the world by a country mile,” says Mark. “Over the time I’ve been going, I feel like there’s been an evolution rather a revolution in design trends. It’s not radically different now – just more variations on existing themes, with new products making up 95 per cent of what’s on display.” He suggests that the biggest changes have occurred with the introduction of a new designer’s ‘handwriting’ or style, or in the use of different materials.

In 2019, the influence of nature played an important part of the fair – both in terms of design and colour. “I think there is a strong desire to move away from the perfect, plastic, hard-screened environment that we all work in, which has affected design significantly in recent years,” he explains.

The Arcadia lounge suite by Saporini is presented in a soft, tactile leather and luxurious comfort.

“Now, there is this connection to natural materials that are raw and tactile – such as handcrafted woods, ceramics, marble, wicker and leather – and an emphasis on the sensory experience of touching nature. It’s like we are going back to our natural roots before the invasion of technology,” he says.

Mark has found that his clients are far more receptive to natural materials, because they are tactile and have been around for a long time. “We make a lot of decisions emotionally and, in New Zealand, we are living in nature and know it intimately, so it influences us dramatically compared with other nations."

“As a result, timber is massive at the moment and there has been a quiet evolution to deeper tones, like deep charcoal oak, as well as clean natural oak,” says Mark. “The new marbles have a beautiful silky finish and the leathers are lovely in velvety nubucks with a peach-like feel. We’re seeing a lot of leathers with a soft handle too, so we’ve expanded our range to reflect this trend.”

He also noticed a continuation of moody tones and a colour palette that reflects a story of nature, including the use of blues and greens as well as rich autumn colours, such as ochre and mustard, along with sunset peach, salmon pink and lilac accents.

Layers of pattern and texture rule, with several different patterned fabrics put together with graphic wallpaper or imagery being a common theme. Pentagon shapes are also big, as is hi-tech production, including laser-printed finishes onto a timber substrate.

Today, furniture that is visually and physically comfortable is far more important than it was 10 years ago. “Style is king, but an item of furniture has to harness a good comfort level as well,” suggests Mark. Clean, linear lines are being softened by curved corners and textured details, seen on doors, in soft-set angles and in half-rounds. The current trend for corrugated effects on doors and cabinetry will suit New Zealanders' love of corrugated iron on our homes.

In general terms, Mark suggests that furniture is more like the fashion industry than it was 20 years ago, with mass-production inclined to remove the finer details in the furniture, due to efficiencies in manufacturing and because machines are more limited in their dexterity. “Mass production takes away the hangs and flows on upholstered furniture, the drapes around corners and the attention to details,” he says.

Italian family business Alf Da Fre is one of the companies with which Mark has been working for the 37 years that Collage has been importing furniture. “We’ve been supplying their products the entire time and now I’m dealing with the kids, not the father. We love this brand because the family comes from a legacy of timber workers. They promote artisans and woodworkers and still use hand tools in the manufacture of the furniture, in juxtaposition to adopting efficient systems and technologies. It’s like the best of both worlds. Each lounge suite is made by three people – one upholsterer, one sewer, and one framer and cutter, with part of it sewn by hand so each piece is very personalised.”

Another of their key brands is Bonaldo, a leading-edge company driven by innovation. “Bonaldo is also an Italian family business and their designers instil such a lot of energy and emotion into their products,” says Mark. “They always do something special and push the design and technology limits, which is why we’ve been working with them for 35 years too."

After visiting the world’s leading design fairs each season, Mark selects his favourite pieces and, each year, Collage imports more than 200 containers of indoor and outdoor furniture into New Zealand. “Some of our customers have built new homes three, four or even five times and have a real feel for what’s available in the marketplace, so they like to bring different choices into each new environment,” Mark explains. “We used to be restrained about bringing brand new styles into the New Zealand marketplace because, in previous years, we had imported concepts that were slow to be accepted. But technology and travel has changed things and, today, Kiwis have much more awareness of international design trends and what’s available."

To find out more about Collage and the ranges mentioned, click here.

Words by Justine Harvey.
Images supplied by Collage

Banner image: Saporini's Tivoli lounge suite in soft nubuck leather is made with unique foams to produce deep, comfortable seating.

Corrugated natural walnut surrounds this Rigadin buffet by Alf Da Fre.
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