Four Macro Design Trends for 2017

Four Macro Design Trends for 2017
August 5, 2016 angela

Four Macro Design Trends for 2017

Melbourne’s annual Decor+Design show came to a colourful close last month.

The annual event features interior products and furnishings from Australia’s leading companies coupled with an extensive seminar series exploring industry trends and projects.

I attended day one of the show and while sifting through the exhibitor stands I observed a strong resurgence in art in all its forms. From wall art (canvases, framed photography etc.) to wallpaper, and tapestries that were rich in colour and patterns.

There was even an array of furnishings that reflected a sculptural and artful aesthetic through colour and traditional craftsmanship i.e. woodwork, tile work/motif crafts.

From a material point of view, designers looked to be building on the “marble momentum” experimenting with coloured marble, agate and making concrete beautiful again.

Nature continues to inspire, and this was evident of course through actual foliage and planter items but also through the use of raw materials and floral and wild animal graphics.

Always curious about what tomorrow might bring, one of my favourite stands was the Trend Hub by forecasting agency Scarlet Opus.

There was no sight of “hot right now” trends. Instead, the space featured an array of curated design settings that represented trend predictions for the next few years.

A long, chipboard table featured a collection of materials and products reflecting consumer priorities and cultural shifts that are influencing aesthetics and product design in the industry.

Visitors touched fabrics, rearranged items and flicked through colour samples making the space their own.

Now it was only a few weeks ago I spoke to the founder and head futurist at Scarlet Opus – Victoria Redshaw. You can read our preview chat here.

But for a little more, Victoria spoke to a full house of trend enthusiasts at Decor+Design detailing four macro design trends for 2017 and beyond.

So today, I’m delighted to feature these predictions in Victoria’s words:


Desert Wanderer

While a digital future is inevitable and a prevalent trend, it is offset with what Victoria calls Desert Wanderer: A “slow and steady” trend that can also be described as meditative.

“Desert Wanderer is a respite from the modern life that is incredibly fast paced and in constant motion… it’s an antidote to that,” she explained.

When it comes to product design, Victoria revealed that items will appear to have a “controlled rusticity” and encourages the audience to remember that phrase.

“It’s knowingly primitive and raw in some aspects and then it is perfectly sophisticated and precise and engineered in other aspects,” she said.

So while the market has been enjoying rustic hand-crafted products, it’s predicted that designers will continue to use similar materials but they will appear more polished with precise measurements and a minimalist nature. “It is forging the relationship of hard and soft materials” according to Victoria.


As its name suggests, the colour palette of this trend reflects what you would find in a desert sandstorm: think sand hues, dusty pinks and spice shades.

“It’s a hazy mirage of colours, boundless colours that merge into one another… also as solid blocks,” explained Victoria listing some of the shades we can expect:

  • Muted-saffron
  • Cinnamon
  • Purple, mauve, dusty pink
  • Grey
  • Indigo blue
  • Black
  • Warm metallics i.e. Rose gold, bronzes
  • Silver metallics

Victoria also weighed in on “mauve”, a colour that hasn’t made a full comeback since the 80’s and encouraged the audience to embrace it.

Affordances #2 light by Jonathan Zawada

Affordances #2 light by Jonathan Zawada

Materials & Style

When it comes to materials, Victoria revealed that the market is still enjoying raw textures and we’ll be using warmer marble hues.

“There will also be a renaissance of Onyx… and creating it through backlighting if it’s out of the budget,” she said.

“Reduced shape will be a point of view… faceted triangles, raw, minimalism, engineered and juxtaposed against shapes that have an unfinished look.”

Regarding patterns, Victoria said they would be more structured and ordered leaning on our ancestors with the trend informed from ancient cultures.

“We will see Moorish, Moroccan type patterns found in old tiles and ceramics.”


Organic Matter

Nature continues to find its way into our lives through architecture and design, but we’ve been holding back its innate potential according to Victoria.

“The idea of living in harmony with nature is usually about humanity being in control and isn’t really about the free-form of living in harmony with nature,” she explained. “This is a trend that explores the possible creative outcomes of complete freedom.”

“It’s about extreme naturalness… we are handing the control back to nature as a “co-creator”… you’ve gone into business with nature.”

Aesthetically it’s about nature being able to overgrow and not be pruned and restricted to symmetrically lined potplants. Furnishing that perhaps features a floral print that falls over the seams or foliage that spills in our spaces just as it would in Mother Nature.

“Further examples of this trend are seen through green features, barnacles, mosses and unexpected growths,” said Victoria.

She also refers to the architectural sector who have embraced the trend moving beyond a neat green wall on a façade or a strategically placed vertical garden.

As an example, Victoria discusses the upcoming Jewel Changi Airport project by Moshie Safdie which will feature a lush green wall, waterfall, an array of jungle plants and over 1,000 local butterfly species. She also refers to the inspiration New York’s High Line has created for major cities proposing elevated pathways where nature is the priority of pedestrian spaces.


While green may reign, it is being combined with other colours found in nature:

  • Coral pastels
  • Pink
  • Orange pinks
  • Colours found under the sea
  • Flowers/moody florals
Suspension 2 Embroidery by Ana Teresa Barboza

Suspension 2 Embroidery by Ana Teresa Barboza

Materials & Style

Environmental concern continues to prompt material choices with designers finding sustainable ways of working to maximise “naturalness”.

“Naturalness doesn’t necessarily mean looking really rustic or handmade, there are lots of products that have great eco-credentials…” Victoria explained referencing compressed hay, grass fibres and even foam wood (made by wood shavings).

Regarding pattern, Victoria refers to the wallpaper behind the Trend Hub which doesn’t appear to be a designed pattern but dense, overlapping florals showcasing extreme “naturalness”. She expects patterns to be less structured and more free-flowing.



Influenced by the pace of modern life, Analogue Workshop is a simpler, sturdier take on a trend and explained perfectly in three words from Victoria.

Unpretentious, humble and modest.

“…We are on this constantly connected track, constantly in touch with each other, and it can be overwhelming,” explained Victoria. “It can make life feel very temporary, and consumers are looking to reach out for something more constant, reliable and longer lasting.”

From a technology sense, this trend can be considered the “digital detox” she said.

It’s encouraging consumers to move away from their digital devices and “embrace, slow technology” appreciating craftsmanship, details and simple pleasures.

Aesthetically, Victoria refers to the trend as the “new retro” with 50’s influences and modern mid-century styles. Again, architecture lends a visual hand with “elements of brutalism” and a new appreciation for concrete skyscrapers and dark, sweeping pavements.

When it comes to product design, consumers will value the precision and the love and engineering behind the product.

“Products look robust and sturdy… it will be about a beautiful, engineered handle of a drawer or the very clever structure of a furniture piece,” she said.


This trends colour palette will feel very familiar according to Victoria citing the colours:

  • Cookie brown
  • Hardwood brown
  • Indigo Blue
  • Ombre Hues
  • Granite Grey
  • Acidic Yellow
  • Mint Green

“This trend is very much about the workshop so its wood, leather and metal with metallics including brass, bronze and coppers.” Victoria also forecasts that 2018 will see cold and white metallics come through.

The chipboard table at the Trend Hub

The chipboard table at the Trend Hub

Materials & Style

Victoria believes we will be paying attention to cork, chipboard and treated exotic wood. Designers will look to pay respect to the materials by experimenting with shape and finishes.



Tribe is a refreshing macro trend reflecting a shifting change in culture and personally appealed to me as a woman. It’s much more than the usual girl power talk; it’s a global movement with a striking colour palette.

“The core of this trend is a changing attitude amongst some women in many different cultures and countries around the world – change is happening,” said Victoria.

She refers to women being more politically influential and the first time in the world that more women are graduating with degrees than men.

“As trend forecasters, we’re beginning to see a shift away from or aspiring to the airbrushed perfection of celebrity lifestyles…instead, admiring women who are more interesting and who are healthier role models,” explained Victoria.

She refers to an aligning industry, athletic powerhouse Nike, who are predicting a $2b increase in profits and have undergone a complete redesign of their women’s sportswear redefining what it means to be feminine.

“Strong is the new pretty…”explained Victoria, “And this will translate into a confident look in interiors.”


“We will see bold colours, craft techniques and traditions along with materials with a twist,” said Victoria.

“We are rebranding pink to be about power pink and being unapologetic with the colour palette”. So we’re looking at:

  • Power pink
  • Energetic blues
  • Confident greens
  • Black, white, grey
Ladies by Cecilia Bertling

LADIES – cotton artwork by Cecilia Bertling

Materials & Style

Victoria said that designers will be honouring the past with traditional craft techniques but fusing it with modern technology.

“We’re seeing brighter colours, bolder colours, confident shapes and a new generation of designers and makers,” she explained.

“This trend enables spontaneity in our homes and styling and our interaction with furniture with lots of different global influences.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this extensive trend review and would love to hear the thoughts on this article. Comment below or via social media – looking forward to hearing from you ~ Angela 

While this a non-sponsored post, I would personally like to share that Scarlet Opus have a 2017 Colour Trend Book for sale featuring the first three trends discussed here today. It goes into much more detail and has the Pantone referenced colour palettes for each trend story. You can purchase yours here.

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