The ’80s Wave Is the Top Interior Trend of 2021
Etsy called it earlier this year: the biggest design trend for 2021 is the wave. The company noted a 28,236 per cent increase in searches for wavy candles and a 5,296 per cent increase in searches for wavy mirrors between January and March this year, compared to the same period last year.
You only have to look towards interior items like the Ultrafragola mirror, Caprani lamps, round dining tables, twisted candles, and scalloped napkins and placemats in bright colour combinations to see that this really is the dominating trend of 2021.
It’s easy to attribute the new wavy, curly, squiggly and wiggly interior design craze to being stuck at home during the pandemic, with more of us wanting to fill our homes with anything but straight and boring lines.
It offers a way to break free from the constraints of our four walls and instead serves as a form of joy and happiness. Intrigued? Here’s everything you need to know about the wave trend that’s dominating the interior space in 2021.
Who’s responsible for reviving the Wave trend?
As the number of searches for these jellybean-like items went up, so did the number of designers making them. Sophie Collé, a Brooklyn-based furniture designer, says she went from designing pieces that conformed to the “industrial design” she saw her peers making — and what her white male professors deemed interesting — to breaking free from modernity and strict geometry almost overnight.
The result was cloud - shaped plant stands and wall shelves, wobbly (though physically sturdy) chairs, and “pasta” stools — all in cheerful hues. Her sunny loft is a playground of bright colours, soft edges, wobbles and blobs. She’s painted frills around door frames, hung curved mirrors and scattered satisfyingly odd shapes everywhere.
Collé started selling furniture in June 2020 to raise money for Black Lives Matter and quickly realised there was a demand for fun and funky pieces, so she made her business official. Now she takes custom orders full time and makes weekly donations to humanitarian efforts.
Also from Brooklyn, Levi Shaw-Faber and Zoe Cohen founded Wiggle Room in 2020, a made-to-order furniture company whose first design was a wiggly pink side table.
The trend is spreading across the globe. Industrial designers Jazmin Feige and Matias Gonzalez, who are based in Paris and Buenos Aires respectively, started Bougie Woogie during the pandemic. Their blobby vinyl holders, slime-like stools and wavy bookends were designed to bring much-needed lightness and joy to people’s homes.
London-based Shantelle Hyslop also started her business, Lotta Blobs, in the early months of the pandemic. Her hand-sculpted mirror frames are quick to sell out, and there are how-to TikTok videos and knock-off frames online for those who miss out or want to get crafty themselves.
Flex Mami collaborated with Circle Home on a pink wave shelf (keen-eyed fans would have seen this in the background of many of her Instagram posts) and a wiggly-leg end table.
Where did the Wave interior trend originate?
While the popularity of Caprani lamps and the Ultrafragola mirror have increased in the past year, this isn’t the first time the curly trend has made waves. It’s a motif that has been, and will continue to be, appropriated millions and millions of times by artists, architects and interior and fashion designers.
A quick history lesson: We can see an obsession with all things curvy and squiggly can be seen as far back as the Mayans, and those kinds of shapes feature heavily in early African art. Collé says her first wavy love comes from the 12th Century Nissanka Latha Mandapaya site, built by Sri Lanka’s King Nissanka Malla. Each column is carved to represent a lotus stem and curves three times — which, at the time, was unique to the country. By the 13th Century, spiralling, corkscrew-like Solomonic columns were popping up all over Europe.
Jump forward to the 20th Century, and we have the curved French Art Deco furniture of the 1930s, the Italian Radicals’ Superarchitettura of the 1960s, and the Memphis Milano architecture collective of the 1980s, which was co-founded by the Ultrafragola mirror designer, Ettore Sottsass.
Why is it happening again?
One thing most resurgences of the anti-straight line have in common is a rebellion from rigidity. This time, people have interpreted the trend to be a middle finger to the minimalism that’s dominated our Instagram feeds in recent years. But neutral palettes and OTT shapes needn’t be mutually exclusive: the wavy trend isn’t off-limits to someone responsible enough to own a white couch. It’s possible to embrace clash and take a clean maximalist approach or a colourful minimalist approach.
Introducing a sense of childlike wonder into our spaces also helps us regain some of the control we’ve lost over our lives in the past year. Squiggles, waves and blobs are all shapes we would have drawn as children, so filling our homes with tangible doodles offers comfort and a light innocence.
How do I get on the Wave trend?
Just as there are infinite ways to draw a wavy line, there are also infinite ways to introduce the delightful trend into your home. Start small, with twisty vases and curling candles, and gradually edge closer to weirdness as you discover what’s going to work best in your space.
Dip your toe in by going for temporary table decor. Sophie Jacobsen’s collection of coloured glassware works as centrepieces, vases or water jugs and add a pop of translucent colour to liven up your dinner party.
Or the Bed Threads Scalloped tableware collection is just the right amount of edgy. The five colourways mix and match perfectly with our Classic linen tablecloths and standard napkins to avoid dizziness.
Eventually, you can go all out and introduce cloud-like couches and ottomans or wiggly bookshelves to your space. Or for the committed, get the paintbrushes out (if you’re not renting, obviously) and paint free-form frills around door frames, window sills and skirting boards.