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Neale Whitaker on the curved furniture trend

As my long-suffering partner would doubtless agree, I’m the worst person to watch a period drama with. I have a sensitive antenna for period detail, whether it’s the shape of a tie (‘nobody tied knots like that in the 60s’), a hair style, a colour, a turn of phrase or - in the context of this article - interior design. And a short, indignant, fuse when I feel they’re getting it wrong. So I guess it follows that I also think about the lens through which our current times will be viewed in the decades to come. True, I probably won’t be here to worry about it, but that doesn’t stop me wondering. Because trends are almost always more interesting retrospectively.  


Featuring Aura Sofa and Aura Ottoman in Brunswick Ricepaper, Fleur Tub Chair in Leura Natural White, Antipodes Rug in Natural and Issho Console and Issho Side Table in American Walnut.


Micro and macro trends 


Let me explain. If you’ve heard me talk about design over the years, or read some of my articles, you’ll know I tend to divide trends into micro and macro. Micro trends are the ones that come and go faster than you can say Barbie, while macros are those with staying power, the ones that genuinely reflect changing values, lifestyles and social mores. Open-plan living, indoor/outdoor flow, sustainability, multi-purpose spaces, technology … and so on. Sometimes trends fall into both categories. It would be too easy - for example - to dismiss the popularity of green as a micro trend, because the fact that green represents our pandemic-accelerated need for connection with nature nudges it into the macro camp. And so it is with curves.


Featuring Jasper Curve in TrueTouch Mailee leather. 


New era of inspiration


For historical context, let’s look to the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s that continues to inspire contemporary design. Curves - whether decorative or sleek like the architectural Streamline Moderne style - were a popular motif of the Deco era. Curves represented movement and motion and were symbolic of early 20th-century society’s love affair with speed. Interestingly, almost half a century later in the 1970s, those Art Deco motifs had a resurgence of popularity. So much 70s design, fashion, typography - even photography - owed a massive debt to the 20s in particular, which is why 70s furnishings often replicated the curves. And another half-century later, it’s no coincidence that we can see many contemporary references to both the 1970s and Art Deco. The two eras are intrinsically linked, hence the curves that are so popular now.  


Featuring 1977 Sofa in Tempest Caramel and Tempest Sandstone, Bundeena Rug in Autumn (coming soon), Myco Side Table, Pallino Portable Lamp and the Issho Side Table.


Soft, elegant curves


But let’s face it, fascinating as it may be, we’re not loving curves for their historical significance. We’re loving them because they look good and they feel good. We interpret curves today as easier and softer on the eye - the very opposite, in fact, of the forward-looking futurism those Deco-era architects intended. Curves feel both comfortable and comforting, reassuring and relaxing. And in the same way some economists once used hemlines to predict our collective mood (short = boom, long = recession), I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say the uncertainty of recent times has drawn us closer to the comfort of curves.  

Scroll through Instagram or Pinterest and you’ll see curved furniture in almost every contemporary interior setting. I can’t say it’s been a conscious thing, but my own home is an interior landscape of soft, sweeping curves contrasted with clean lines. It’s a combination that works for mind, body, soul - and life. I will always choose a circular dining table over a rectangular one because it feels convivial (nobody sits at the head of a round table) and, importantly, the circular shape tempers the angularity of the room. In the same way, curved sofas feel welcoming, intimate and sociable. I challenge anyone not to relax on the Jasper Curve, the elegantly organic Aura Sofa or curvaceously retro 1977 Sofa. Curved furniture softens a room and tones beautifully with other curved pieces, or it can be contrasted with more regular, geometric lines.  


Featuring Aura Sofa in Brunswick Deep Lagoon, Aura Ottoman in Brunswick Teal Mist, Apero Coffee Table, Solifiore Gymea Floor Lamp and Antipodes Organic Rug.


Bring curves home


If you’ve heard me talk about trends, then chances are you’ve also heard me say that the most interesting rooms tell stories. When you’re reading a story it’s vocabulary and punctuation that draw you in and create the voice. Likewise in a room, it’s the balance of light, shade, material and shape that paints the picture. I guess symmetry is in the eye of the beholder, but I believe every angle needs a curve. It’s that simple.  

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