We often joke that there are two givens in life and these are birth and death. However, looking beyond those goal posts, I thought: there is something else we all share and have done so since time immemorial, and that is our ongoing love affair with flowers and all things floral.
Flowers have no practical purpose but we nonetheless adore them and spend vast sums of money to surround ourselves with them, just because we think they are beautiful!
Floral patterns have appeared in decorative arts through the ages and artists from across the globe have interpreted and copied flowers, bouquets, and gardens in ceramic, glass, textiles and jewelry. Traditionally representing the feminine side of nature, they speak their own language; red roses convey love, daisies represent innocence and, though in today’s world, their many symbolic meanings are now lost, there is no doubt that flowers are still able to tell a visual story.
Despite their perennial appeal, floral designs are considered very traditional and English and evoke images of frilly and chintzy interiors. We are all familiar with English florals both in interior design and fashion and an example of this is chintz which made many British brands famous. In fact, the iconic small scale liberty prints and floral collections by Laura Ashley still enjoy immense popularity today. However, younger designers are shaking off that image and making floral patterns cool again!
Contemporary takes on the use of florals have resulted in one of the year’s hottest trends: reinvented floral patterns. There is a nod to nostalgia, but the designs are youthful and more playful, resulting in a looser image of the term floral, as it now encompasses fruit, foliage and even a geometric interpretation of a flower.
While we might like floral patterns, they can be quite tricky to implement, resulting in interiors that are overdone or ultra feminine. To help you navigate this potential minefield and avoid recreating something resembling your great grandma’s house, here are some interior design tips that may help….
First and foremost, it is pointless to consider florals if you truly do not like them! But, if you do and wish to incorporate them into your home, choose something you feel comfortable with. Florals can be big and blowsy or small and delicate and will give a different look and feel to a room. Chinoiserie dating back to the 18th century is so hip and cool one of my personal favourites. Try florals on a silk wallpaper or on a bespoke rug.
If you want to avoid an ultra-feminine look, you can opt for patterns that are more abstract in shape rather than intricately detailed floral motifs, or you can choose leaves instead of blooms. There are endless options, with palms and pineapples being just two examples which are enjoying immense popularity in today’s contemporary interiors.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to balance the masculine and feminine elements in a home, so black and white patterns can be a good option as they deliver a masculinity to flowers which are essentially feminine and this also holds true for patterns in gender-neutral hues such as browns, greens, and blues.
If you are still hesitant about flowers climbing your walls, try a floral inspired staircase or accessorise with floral prints on cushions, layered with solid colours and patterns which will prevent the florals from appearing overly feminine.
There is a recurring fusion of fashion with interiors and never more so than right now. Floral fabrics are currently hot – flowers have burst into bloom on chic designer wear to hibiscuses scattered on beach attire and homewares have not escaped either as you are spoilt for choice if you are shopping for decorative tableware.
It appears that because of our urban lifestyle, we continue to crave the lost connection to the countryside and with younger people embracing more organic patterns in their home, the response from designers has given rise to a palette that is fresh, uplifting and contemporary. The versatility of the floral motif is here to stay and don’t we just love it!