BY DANIELLE POPE
On the precipice of the new year, there’s the usual fervour around what textures and styles will be in vogue for home design in 2024, and what Pantone will announce as its colour of the year. Victoria’s designers, however, are seeing something a little different.
This year’s most prominent trends — especially on the Island — might seem more like ways of becoming. Spruce spoke to two design experts for a little clarity on the matter, and what people can anticipate for the year ahead.
It’s not what you’d expect
“Trends are interesting because they are the lifeblood of this industry — and they are also incredibly optimistic. People trying to forecast trends want to build things anew, which is beautiful,” says Ann Squires Ferguson, CEO of Western Design+Build. “But it’s also terrifying. When we look through history, we know we had trends like stirrup pants and leg warmers, or the post-modern era, and we might say, ‘What were we thinking?’ ”
Squires Ferguson has her list of usual suspects. She’s armed with research she and her team have done around what’s coming from Europe and New York. (Hint: it’s maximalism, big textures and lots of wood.) Instead of starting there, though, she says she’s seen something more emergent right here on the Island, and she’s not the only one: deep personalization.
“People tell me about things they’d love for their home, but they stop and say, ‘Ann, what do you think, though — is it in style?’ I tell them: If you love it, it works.”
It might sound cheesy, but Squires Ferguson makes her case.
“A lot of trend articles feel like shopping lists to me. You get the large-scale wallpaper, the parquet floors. There’s so much specificity to it,” she says. “But with conceptual design, we try to do something else. It’s not about what’s in style — it’s about how we want to feel in a space. Then, we talk about what it will take to get there.”
For this cookie-cutter breakaway, the weirder, the better.
To get clients in the zone, Squires Ferguson asks them to imagine their space as a character. One client got so into the activity, she said her home’s name was Goodrun, who braids garlic and onions and leaves them to dry in the foyer.
“You just know that home, don’t you?” says Squires Ferguson. “How it feels — that’s the trend we’re after — and it’s entirely unique to a space.”
Geneva Johnson, who named her home after the “good run” it’s had and its general spirit, is working with Western. She says when she stopped trying to force the space into what she thought it should be, everything changed.
“I let it fully become itself. It’s a craftsman home, not mid-century or modern, and when we figured out what the home needed it really came to life,” says Johnson. “Now, I can’t help but hear Goodrun, and the bold choices she would make.”
Working for comfort
One European theme is slowly catching up here in Victoria: an increase in comfort.
“There is such a movement for comfort right now, and we’re really seeing that in design,” says Iván Meade, principal and founder of Meade Design Group. “We’re living in a world that is desperate for peace, so we’re seeing anything that creates a cocoon. We want to be in a world that is not so structured and sharp, so we’re seeing a softness; softer shapes, and a new interpretation of what West Coast design even means.”
Meade has seen furniture that emphasizes gentler, rounded shapes, and textures that build softness into a space, like contemporary macrame. He’s even seeing a renewed use of marble and limestone, which was traditionally seen as a dangerously soft material.
Comfort can also mean spending less time curating.
“British design magazines don’t tidy up their environment like we do. If there’s a pile of books sitting in the wrong corner or a cupboard full of mess, they leave it,” Squires Ferguson says. “Things look different, and that’s fine. Bodies have pocks and bumps and scars and so do our homes — that’s what makes them such fascinating places to be. I’d rather have real over curated, any day.”
In one of Squires Ferguson’s projects, a local bar owner was lamenting the look of his marble floors, which had 30 years of wear marks, but unsure what to do.
“I said to him, ‘You know what that means? It means you’ve had thousands of happy humans stand there for 30 years.’ We’re not changing it — it’s a natural material that’s done exactly what it’s supposed to: it’s aged,” she says. “There’s beauty and comfort in that.”
Only on Vancouver Island
Finding items unique to our geography is one trend catching speed.
“We are going back to artisans and local crafts people and designers that make things you can’t find anywhere else,” says Meade. “People aren’t satisfied to shop at big-box stores or order online.”
Squires Ferguson says the trend toward hyper local is capturing people’s cravings for unique experiences. Gone are the days when you could walk into a space and really be “anywhere.”
“We play professional Cupid all the time, matching this artist with this place for this client,” she says. “You can never predict the exact outcome, and that’s what makes it captivating.”
A success in design, for Squires Ferguson, occurs when the space unfolds so that you feel as though you’d know exactly where to go for cutlery or dishes, but it is distinctly your aunt’s kitchen in Victoria.
“Someone once told me, ‘It looks like you took a bucket of your personality and splashed it everywhere.’ That was the highest compliment,” she says. “You’re getting wrapped up in me and my family and who we are — you wouldn’t find this anywhere else.”
Creating the fourth dimension
Squires Ferguson says four-dimensional interiors are going to be a signature move for 2024. That means celebrating the change a space is constantly undergoing.
“Our spaces evolve over time, and we have to embrace that. You let them be filled with toys when you have a toddler; you learn some things are disposable, like curtains,” she says with a laugh. “Don’t get so committed to a space that you forget to let it grow.”
In the same vein, Meade says he’s never before seen such a shift to honouring heritage and bringing new life to found objects.
“There is a huge switch happening right now that not everything has to be new, and I am loving that,” says Meade. “It isn’t about price — sometimes it’s more expensive — but finding accessories with meaning, collecting from antique stores or uncovering a heritage art piece and reframing it in a contemporary way makes it perfect for today.”
Speaking of change, Meade says the biggest one he sees happening in design right now is a resurgence of colour.
“I’ve been designing for 25 years, and no one was using colour. Canada has played it very safe but, suddenly, people are loving colour,” he says. “I call it the new neutrals — emerald greens, navies, fall colours — colours that were trending in the ’80s but now with richer tones, mixed with a base of neutrals.”
For those wondering what hues will be in vogue next year, the colour authority Pantone’s Spring 2024 fashion palette offers a clue — it comprises hints of nostalgia with “the desire for personal expression” at the core. Among the trendy tones is Orangeade (PANTONE 17-1461 TCX), a sweet, mildly tangy red-orange hue with a fruity citrus touch.
“These are things we see people choosing, and why is that?” says Squires Ferguson. “People are gravitating towards things they love, things they are passionate about, things that reflect them. I didn’t have the confidence to say it early in my career, but I do now: that wonderfully weird thing you adore, let’s put that in.”