This is Habitat’s annual FOCUS on contemporary seating and how best to choose and use it. 2018 looks to spell out change for South Africa and not only in terms of politico-economics. At home, the use of furniture in multifunctional living areas is illustrating markedly different lifestyle choices. Here we examine today’s seating solutions and ask those in the know for informed opinions. 

Taking a seat is not quite as uncomplicated as it used to be. My early childhood in the UK was spent largely on upright chairs with wooden arms and a paucity of upholstery. Then came TV and a need for sofas and upholstered seating in and on which to relax and watch the one-eyed monster on a nightly basis.

In cities globally, the creation of this ‘one room’ scenario for multifunctional living is one suspected catalyst in the creation of an unhealthy society of pallid, overweight humans with deteriorating digestion, blood circulation and muscle tone. It’s a particularly negative trend for younger children who have grown up pushing touch screens, virtually before being able to talk, and playing games on the larger box. Some sadly relate little to the world outside, but SA’s youth is fortunate to not be at the top of this list.

What this might bode for the future is hard to compute, but what we have to bear in mind ‘in the now’ is how to ensure that the interiors that support such a lifestyle be comfortable and welcoming. And that the seating arrangements chosen should be aesthetically pleasing and ergonomically designed to support the human frame in what is very often a semi-reclined position. Lastly, the ecological impact of the materials chosen for the construction of such seating should be considered.

What needs to be considered when adapting design to suit current living spaces? ‘With ever decreasing space, pieces incorporate multifunctional platforms. Gone are the days where a sofa is merely an item to sit on; new trends in sofa design incorporate lighting, USB hubs and work stations; the human race is constantly plugged in and on the move. In so being, design is adapting to suit this ever increasing fast-paced lifestyle and its hybrid spaces,’ says Aldon Mc Leod of True Design who import Cassina.

Lize Viljoen from @Home agrees: ‘Space is becoming a luxury and intelligent design means that people can utilise their living areas to maximum capacity. Modular systems enable the configuration of seating to fit individual lifestyles and the available space.’

Giuliano Galimberti from Flexform adds: ‘We have always been particularly attentive to consumers’ needs. In 2001 the Groundpiece sectional sofa designed by architect Antonio Citterio was launched after we realised that lifestyles were rapidly changing, and that the sofa was to become the central piece of any living room: a place to rest, read, watch TV, text, play and dine. From that time on we have conceived the sofa as the main actor in the living room, surrounded by other important co-actors such as armchairs, ottomans, daybeds, coffee and side tables. All of these create an island of serendipity that should make any user feel truly at home.’

‘Furniture pieces utilise space and should encourage social interaction. They represent the elements that bring people together – to communicate and relax – and they can express social status. Good interior design achieves this by furnishing spaces sympathetically and an exclusive interior does it by manifesting the notion and experience of luxury. This may include upper echelon furniture brands, names that carry a proud tradition for centuries; herein is the value,’ so says George Giorgio who imports Poltrona Frau.

Ockert Rossouw of locally manufactured Riverwalk Furniture adds: ‘There seems to be a current focus on a blending of classical, timeless sofa design with contemporary additives that are able to mix well in almost any aesthetic. These new styles tend to favour smooth, clean lines with artistic flair; contemporary sofa designs with elegant curves that can take centre stage and enhance the chic appeal of any contemporary interior.

First Impressions

The interior palette and certain design trends for 2018 reflect a growing cultural impulse within humans to support each other while protecting the planet; i.e. finding harmony in life in their communities rather than spending lavishly on fashionable items. In 2018’s fiscal environment it’s a case of quality rather than quantity, coupled to longevity of look, feel and style. The bold, perhaps eccentric – and often expensive – decorating fads of the previous decade are diminishing. Reasonably frugal, practical, eco-friendly and comfortable are the design buzz words for 2018 in creating functional, pleasing contemporary interiors.

Tracey-Lee Gradidge of Casarredo comments: ‘Deconstructed luxe will be the ubiquitous look of most modern living rooms and I feel that 2018 will give continuing nods to the industrial feel of the late ‘80s. With this in mind I suggest that, in adapting these designs into our living spaces, we use multifunctional furniture that is both practical and crafted to perfection. Incorporating layered coffee tables with ottomans in various shapes and textures are items that can be moved around to change the look of any space.’

Zubair Garda of Enza Home adds: ‘Contemporary space constraints have forced interior design to adapt accordingly. We see a focus towards the deeper, dual-purpose seating systems; in sleeper / sofa options, yet with a more ‘designer’ interpretation. Textured engineered fabrics and modern-quilting techniques are integrated into such designs and we see some bold accents and / or overall colours – especially jewel tones – appearing in certain 2018 collections.’

In the Frame

A spokesperson for Cattelan Italia imported by maldini says: ‘Retro style will be one of the protagonists this year, along with vintage and bronze furnishings. We should see a merging of traditional and modern style, and if well proportioned and balanced, this will enrich the interior environment and make it unique. Marble is confirmed to be one of the must-have elements as a genuine object of desire in clear white and ivory, dark, uniform or veined. A trend that we have been able to capture well in advance – thanks to an innovative technology – is the authentic effect of marble on ceramics by exploiting its versatile potential. Finally, velvet also continues to be a highly appreciated fabric for upholstery.’

For the full article see Habitat #265 May / June 2018


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