Neo-Nostalgia

A younger generation is rediscovering a more traditional style of decorating. Whether it’s simply the inevitable swing of the pendulum between one style and another, or something deeper at work – the need for familiarity and cocooning comfort in uncertain times – it’s a look that is deeply nostalgic.

However, nothing remains stuck in the past. Of-the-moment colours (like the salmon-pink upholstery on this ‘Klosters’ sofa from Oficina Inglesa Furniture, above), contemporary fabrics used on period furniture – or, conversely, traditional prints on contemporary pieces – and new lighting inspired by antique originals all keep things looking fresh. As Todhunter Earle’s Emily Todhunter noted during her Conversations in Design talk hosted by The World of Interiors for London Design Week 2021: “It’s the feelgood factor. It’s what people can remember, or even what they might not be able to remember, yet that familiarity is still there somewhere, in the back of their mind.”

With its sculptural spiral design and faux red gesso finish, the ‘Medusa’ light by Julian Chichester (above left) was inspired by the work of Jean Royère; its asymmetrical form and mismatched shades communicate that this is design that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Similarly, Vaughan’s ‘Broughton’ bobbin chair (above right) is an invitation to relax and not be too fussy or fuddy-duddy.

The neo-nostalgic look is all about layering, and passementerie is continuing to have a major moment in interiors, with fringing, trims and appliqué adding additional visual and textural interest to upholstery and curtains, such as this ‘Barton’ trim by Travers at Zimmer + Rohde (above left), named after early-20th-century French couturier Alix Barton, known as Madame Grès. This ‘Galeazze’ appliqué (above right) was designed by Roger Thomas for Samuel & Sons: the US designer is known for his work for hospitality projects, including Wynn Resorts, but his designs are based on a deep understanding of history and craft, and this is part of a wider collection inspired by Venice.

Fabrics are used as if a homeowner had spent a lifetime acquiring exquisite, elegantly mismatched textiles from around the world – yet they need have strayed no further than the showrooms at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. Colefax and Fowler’s latest collection has Eastern and antique influences: ‘Dorian’ (on the chairs, above left) is inspired by rugs and kilims. It’s bold and geometric but the yarns used make it comforting and familiar. Or head to Tissus d’Hélène to find boutique brands with an emphasis on traditional techniques: Alice Sergeant’s beautifully detailed ‘Damour’ fabric (above right) is hand-printed on linen.

Colefax and Fowler, Ground Floor, South Dome
Julian Chichester, Ground Floor, Centre Dome
Oficina Inglesa Furniture, Third Floor, Design Centre East
Samuel & Sons, Third Floor, Centre Dome
Tissus d’Hélène, Fourth Floor, Design Centre East
Vaughan, Ground Floor, Design Centre East
Zimmer + Rohde, Ground Floor, North Dome