Is Minimalism out? Milan says yes.

Source: Leo’s Oyster Bar, San Francisco

For years, we have Marie Kondo-ed our way into less cluttered homes and offices, selecting more austere furnishings designed with simplicity and cleanliness in mind. As architects, these trends have largely influenced our customer base’s design choices and our own aesthetics. 

So, we were surprised to read that the Milan Design Week, a trendsetting event that took place in April of 2023, featured a growing report of maximalism on the rise. Many artists and designers attribute this shift to the cultural impact of the pandemic. It is a literal answer to our call to be bold again, celebrating life after isolation and fear.

Maximalism is the antithesis of minimalism with a “more is more” mantra. It is characterized by overcrowded surfaces, bold, mixed patterns, color on top of color, and overall extravagance. As part of this shift, there is a renewed interest in Rococo style characterized by ornamentation and curving natural forms. 

A brand called Soane Britain, that creates furniture, lighting, fabrics, and wallpaper even has a range called “Egyptomania” created in response to this shift towards imperialistic-inspired design. A writer covering this trend attributes its development as a direct reaction to the harsh news the world has seen in recent years. He says, “We create a space in which we can retreat from all the terror outside (SOURCE).” 

You likely have noticed this trend trickling down to everyday design choices through the return of busy wallpaper designs, the retreat from “greige” everything, and the growing interest in rich jewel tones. As architects, we will be curious to see how much of an impact it has on our clients and final products.

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