Things have come to a head it seems. Wandering around Kings Cross the other day, I started to become irrationally annoyed by the presence of rosegold. The colour I mean. It’s not a new colour of course, it’s been around for a while, but it is simply everywhere. No pen, pencil case or accessory can be launched without a rosegold option, it’s the go-to female colour, which in itself is quite annoying. Added to this is the ubiquity of books with quotes or platitudes on the cover (Today I create my future, not tomorrow), journals with purpose – gratitude logs and wellness diaries, brass stuff – loads of it and sweary slogans – Get Shit Done.
And that’s just stationery. The rest of the world is also full of design tyranny with easily identifiable Airbnb, café culture, Instagram-style. Everywhere you go you’ll see the Instagram top ten of plants (Swiss Cheese Plant, Dragon’s Ivy, String of Hearts, basically anything from a rainforest), of grey and turquoise paint shades (Farrow & Ball, Little Greene and newcomer Lick) and industrial light pendants (bare bulbs and factory-style metal shades)
I’ll be clear: I live in a house which is chock a block full of grey feature walls and rainforest plants trailing everywhere so I’m either a massive hypocrite or very well qualified to write about this. Maybe both. But why do we want to be individuals and have our own sense of style and yet fool ourselves into thinking we aren’t just hopeless followers of the latest fad. Why am I so snooty about rosegold but turn a blind eye to Kanken backpacks? The answer I guess is that we all live in our trend silos, desperate to avoid mass culture and then confused when we discover that the black and white Victorian tiles we thought so interesting are all over Instagram: “Damn, it’s a thing” we say, “everyone has them”.
Some trend silos are well formed and obvious, frequently gender-based and unsubtle in their approach. The themes are easy to spot in gift shops – Prosecco and craft gin, slogans as ornaments, message cushions, personalised everything, driftwood signs, fake vintage (an actual crime) and that bloody rosegold. Others are more insidious and hide behind a veneer of Scandinavian chic- room scenters in minimalist bottles, itchy but expensive-looking throws and firm retro armchairs
The trend conscious will spot these things early on, before they become ‘Primarked’, slapped onto anything and everything. Once they appear in a slogan on an apron they can no longer be spoken of (Keep Calm & Drink a Negroni). In my former life as a buyer I would get increasingly depressed as I wandered the aisles of products, playing trend bingo was all that kept me going sometimes. Often all I could see was landfill, waiting in the aisles. Owls were a Big Thing a few years back, every notebook and cushion seemed to sport them. At this year’s Top Drawer trade fair back in January (another age, pre-COVID) veganism and terrariums stalked me around every corner with Greta Thunberg cloth bags and aprons sporting Keep Calm I’m Vegan.
But where do trends come from in the first place? Of course we have social media influencers to thank for spreading these ideas and taking them mainstream, but they are rarely original so how are they spawned? The Trends talk at Top Drawer seemed a good place to explore this complex subject but I found myself none the wiser by the end.
For 2020, without the benefit of knowing what was coming down the track about ten weeks later, sustainability was a big theme as was wellness, or omniwellness as they described it, so big is the trend. Authenticity is big, which is an annoyingly overused word, like artisan, what does it actually mean? Products having back stories is big too, we love some background about how or where it was made and a bit of personality. Trends are also concepts now – how happy does the product make you being an important consideration rather than just the design, though most people are easily convinced at the buying stage of this consideration, I know I am.
Embracing your own ideas is a trend along with eclecticism and individuality, a concept that makes my head hurt trying to understand how it works, a bit like time travel. If it is a trend then is it individual? I remember a story about IKEA making vases which were imperfect so as to be unique (another seriously overused word). They had the Chinese factory workers take them out of the moulds with their hands rather carelessly, which upset the workers no end as they were presumably used to being sanctioned for such things, leading to fingerprints and dents and no two vases the same. Unique? Or a mass produced concept? I haven’t seen them at my local IKEA so perhaps they didn’t catch on, they certainly looked awful.
There was plenty of terminology being thrown around – Ongoing Self-Curation was a big theme as was Unadorned Tactility: Serene Warmth was going to be big as was Playful Chromatics. Also, in a moment of total clarity, slowing down was going to be a thing – little did they know. Or did they? Is it a dark art? We were told of an industry sage who was famed for being able to predict trends thirty years into the future, she had apparently anticipated the colour brown being very big the previous year, or maybe this year, I forget. Whatever, industry will follow these trends, embracing the concepts until they simply can’t sell them anymore. Sustainability is suddenly less important now, single-use plastic not quite the villain it was and homemade has a rather different ring to it. Who could have predicted that Gap would be selling facemasks and Brewdog making hand sanitiser?
Where was I? Oh yes, rosegold, the trend that just won’t die. I did consider starting a petition on Change.org to have rosegold banned but then decided that starting a petition on Change.org is a trend in itself. It is all very confusing so in the interests of my Ongoing Self Curation, I have decided to take the blue pill and tell myself that a monkey leaf plant would look very nice in my living room. And dammit if I don’t like a good Negroni too.