Interior design: the new trend for decorating with 'lots of stuff'
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Interior design: the new trend for decorating with 'lots of stuff'

Mastering the burgeoning art of maximalism requires subtle skill.

Le Corbusier believed that ornamentation is crime and "trash is always abundantly decorated". In which case we are living in decorative times that would have the modernist greats turning in their streamlined graves. For many years, British architect John Pawson's beautifully proportioned minimalism, inside and out, was the benchmark for refinement, but the pendulum has swung and the

In some design quarters, the term "maximalist" is being bandied about, which seems to me nothing more than a new way of saying "eclectic" – a word banned from some lifestyle magazines for its flagrant overuse.

STYLING TIP: Placing a sofa up against a console table can look odd, says Megan Morton, but here, “It provides a platform for vessels and flowers and fills in the dead space below the art.”

STYLING TIP: Placing a sofa up against a console table can look odd, says Megan Morton, but here, “It provides a platform for vessels and flowers and fills in the dead space below the art.” Credit:Brooke Holm

But regardless of your terminology, the trend is for "lots of stuff". In her new book It's Beautiful Here*, stylist and author Megan Morton showcases homes filled to the gills – artfully – with carefully curated objects. She explores the New York home of award-winning author Hanya Yanagihara with her 12,000 books, and hot-pink painted wall, dense with framed artworks; digital print designer Camille Walala's place, which doesn't shy away from clashing Memphis prints and bold geometries; and the Melbourne home of interior designer Caecilia Potter, whose advice is, "When designing your living room, imagine bringing it to a level where your visitors think, 'I want to sleep with this person.' " No pressure.

But within the seeming disarray you will find a steely sense of order, be it through repetition, scale, or colour. Take the home of the inimitable Nikki Tibbles, shown left. Tibbles is a successful London florist whose passions include her business, Wild At Heart, as well as her many rescue dogs and the work of New York-based Australian designer and photographer Martyn Thompson, whose images line the wall.

Morton dissects this look with scalpel-like precision. "This looks like an accident, but of course it is not," she says. The space, she points out, is deeply layered and three-dimensional and exploits a tight tone-on-tone palette that has the illusion of great variety. "Florists usually have the knack for dealing with the subtlety of colour, and you can see it in the nuance of this interior scheme."

Maximalism looks like a trend set to continue. Design journalist and blogger David Harrison observed that the excitement at the recent Milan Furniture Fair was around complex colour combinations (such as green and pink) which shouldn't work, but do. There was a similar fascination for the mismatching of eras, with furniture, lighting and printed fabrics from modernism onwards placed in interesting, if sometimes uncomfortable, dialogue with one another.

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