It’s a given that the fashion industry exerts a strong influence over interior design. But how much do consumers influence furniture and interior design? Although you may feel helpless as to what styles appear in stores such as Lawrance, you really do have a voice. With the internet, blogging and social media, today’s homeowners spot new trends right away, and in some cases even start them. Here’s a look at how and why consumers help drive trends in furniture as well as in fashion.
Historical Significance of Consumer Influence on Design
As my father was often fond of saying, there is no original design anymore. Style always moves in a cyclical pattern, starting centuries ago when such great artists as Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci influenced aesthetics through their contemporary designs. In more recent years, Picasso, Stieglitz, Andy Warhol and others helped shape the styles we used in our homes.
Although we may not always realize it, every style trend comes back around eventually. We see this quite often when something is termed “retro” and it starts popping up again in homes across the globe.
In the old days, consumers exerted their influence via what they bought at the marketplace. For instance, at one time green fabrics became all the craze. When furniture with green upholstery was snapped up as soon as it hit the showroom floor, manufacturers struggled to keep up by producing more. When supply finally met demand, the marketplace was already saturated and consumers were ready to move onto the next big trend!
Trends Move More Quickly Today
The more popular any trend becomes, the quicker it spreads from villas in Tuscany to flats in London to seaside homes here in the San Diego area. Due to the prevalence of various types of technology and the ability to disseminate information in a nanosecond, consumers react quickly to things they are seeing, much as designers must do.
Consumers have the ability to express their opinions instanteously. This influence is no longer exerted through purchasing alone. Now homeowners can express their interest in contemporary designs simply by tweeting a photo or pinning an image to their Pinterest board.
The Italian Job
Italy has long been the center of not only clothing fashions, but furnishings for the contemporary home. Styles that originate in Italy continue to exert a strong influence on the designs we see in American showrooms. Italian consumers, too, levy a direct impact on interior design. The country’s economy has been in a downward spiral for the last several years and, as a direct result, consumers are demanding furnishings that reflect this circumstance.
This consumer-driven trend is apparent in the designs seen at this year’s Milan Design Week Show. Designs were simple and safe; colors more soft and muted than in past years. Modern consumers just aren’t as ready to try something new and different yet; they are being deliberate in their choices. Opulence is no longer in vogue.
American consumers, in particular, are opting to purchase furnishings of the highest quality and turning home design into an investment. Our economy is beginning to turn around so we are no longer willing to trade down, in terms of quality; but we aren’t yet willing to make a bold statement via outrageous designs with which we may no longer wish to live in a few months or a few years.
Consumers have always played an important role in deciding on what the next hot design trend will be. Today, however, their influence is nearly instantaneous. It takes a furniture store that is agile and poised to move quickly to keep up with modern consumer demand – and that’s exactly what we do at Lawrance.