What's to come

Ensure your seat belt is fastened and your chair is upright as we venture internationally to get a taste of what’s on the horizon in building design for 2020.

Photo courtesy Zero9 (design and build) and Pulkit Sehgal (photography)


Sarah O'Donovan

Styles and trends are forever evolving with design inspiration coming from around the globe. Living Down Under means we’re geographically disconnected from many of the pioneers in design and, as such, we’re often a season or two behind when it comes to discovering and adopting the latest concepts. While this might sound like a disadvantage, it poses one clear benefit: looking at the current portfolios of international builders and designers can be like looking into a crystal ball, giving us an insight into what the future will bring. 

While terms such as ‘design’ and ‘style’ are broad enough to encompass a range of industries from building and interiors to cars and clothes, most trends can be incorporated into a multitude of expressive mediums. For example, when TV show Mad Men stirred interest in its iconic 1960 aesthetic, mid-century design was soon seen everywhere from fashion to furniture and beyond. 

Just about any trend can be, and will be, translated into the home through architecture, joinery or design. Understanding how the latest concepts can be brought to life in a home is an impressive quality that upmarket clients will look for, plus, it can help secure repeat business when the homeowners are ready to upgrade to a new style in years to come. Trends are cyclical, so it’s likely that you’ve seen some of these before, but nailing the modern interpretation and executing them with the right timing is what makes the difference between dated and daring. 


In the enclosed lounging area, the steel-framed squares are seen again in an intricate bookshelf


Photo courtesy Zero9 (design and build) and Pulkit Sehgal (photography)


This trend is traced back to Germany 100 years ago when an architect founded a school of building named Staatliches Bauhaus, a term which literally translates to ‘building house’. With a goal of teaching the incoming generation of architects and engineers to design for mass production and affordability, the institute’s lasting influence is characterised by metal, glass and industrial modernism. The school went on to influence art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design and typography long after closing its doors in 1933, and we’re now seeing its resurgence in residential building around the world. 

Bauhaus windows, like those on the Dessau building, are usually seen in rows of small squares and framed with black steel. In parts of the large grid-like window sections, swivel mechanics are disguised to allow ventilation without interruption of the design. While these win-dows are typically seen on the building’s facade, modern architects and builders are finding new and innovative ways to interpret the trend inside the home. 

In India, residential architects at Zero9 incorporated the iconic look in an apartment, serving as a visually interesting partition by in-stalling rows of Bauhaus windows in the wall dividing two living spaces. In the enclosed lounging area, the steel-framed squares are seen again, where they have been used without glass to function as an intricate bookshelf. Tying the look together, the apartment is finished with glimpses of more dark steel on light fittings and furniture. 

idt Photo courtesy Equipe Ceramicas
idt Photo courtesy Equipe Ceramicas

Jewel tones

Following on from the recent surge in metallic finishes, jewel tones are catering to the demand for a sophisticated sparkle in places such as the bathroom. Also being incorporated in living spaces and even the kitchen, jewel tones are the rich hues typical of gemstones: ruby red, sapphire blue, golden amber, emerald green, rose quartz pink, and more. 

Particularly impactful when paired together in various finishes, interiors that indulge in a generous helping of jewel tones feel comfortable, vibrant and stylish. For a conservative approach, use rich jewel tones in accent features such as tiling or lighting and complement it by painting the walls with the same colour in a lighter shade. Or dive in by opting for an analogous scheme with three adjacent colours, such as yellow, green and blue. 

Around the world this style is being found with colourful glass-like tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. Paired with metallic finishes, these spaces are transformed by the colour, turning them from functional wet areas into inviting, cosy rooms. But the scheme isn’t limited to walls, with pendants, appliances and cabinetry expected to soon be seen in similar gem-like finishes. 

idt Photo courtesy Original Style
idt Photo courtesy Equipe Ceramicas


The secret to getting this trend right in a home is balance

Photo courtesy


Maximalism is a broad term that describes the aesthetic of excess with a philosophy of ‘more is more’. The movement sees homeowners opt for loud colours and patterns as a background for their abundant and lively décor. This comes in the form of paint and wallpaper as well as fixtures and furniture. Repeating history, the trend is gaining popularity in direct response and opposition to the sleek white look of minimalism that defined the years following the new millennium. While white and beige will likely always have a place in the home, the muted palette enjoyed its moment well into the early 2010s and has since stepped aside to let the bold and bright take centre stage. 

At Milan Design Week earlier this year, the maximalism trend was making itself known in the only way it knows how: with the most eye-catching displays in the room. When mixing dramatic chandeliers, eccentric wallpaper, a range of finishes and embellished fixtures such as mirrors and tapware, the concept can be daunting. The secret to getting this trend right in a home is balance. The truly eclectic homeowners will want and expect to control the finishing touches of the trend with their furniture and décor, but a bold pattern and clever use of colour in a home will dare them to imagine the possibilities and in turn imagine themselves living in your project. 

idt Photo courtesy Maison Valentina
idt Photo courtesy The Curious Department

The origami-inspired design wraps itself up the staircase and around the island kitchen bench

Photo courtesy Space Sense Studio


Thought to date back as early as the seventeenth century, the Japanese art form of paper folding isn’t typically associated with homes. Named with the Japanese words ‘oru’ (to fold) and ‘kami’ (paper), the craft originated among monks as a ceremonious ritual before gaining popularity with the mass production and increasing affordability of paper in the 1800s. 

Today origami models include those passed down over time between generations as well as those developed by designers to wow and puzzle amateur paper folders. Made from a sustainable material and strengthened with its layers and pleats, it’s not surprising that folded paper has made its way into modern product design. We’re seeing intricately folded paper (or replicas of it) in wallpaper designs and pendant lights around the globe. The trend is also being adopted in wet areas with innovative designs seeing bath tubs and tap fixtures replicating the look of geometric, folded paper.

Taking it one step further, Singapore-based designer Kelvin Teo is incorporating the art form throughout the build of the home. In a recent project, his origami-inspired folded design can be seen in the kitchen around the island bench, and wrapping itself up the staircase. Additionally, Kelvin also designed an origami-inspired chair which sits under the stairs, bringing a vibrant piece to the unique theme. 

idt Photo courtesy Maison Valentina
idt Photo courtesy Space Sense Studio

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