Design that doesn't date

upcycling design

One of the attractions of living in cosmopolitan Hong Kong is its colourful diversity and ever-changing styles. It is only natural that people follow trends, without fully understanding the nature of their development or considering alternatives. Experience has taught me that interior design needs to be timeless yet stylish, approached in a way that will not be adversely affected by shifting trends.

The big question is how this can be achieved. Simplicity is the key to keeping your space up to date; interiors with crisp clean lines separating the forms of furnishing always has longevity. Decorative items that are overly detailed or highly adorned will detract from the timeless effect you might want to achieve. Uncomplicated designs will allow you to adapt and change up your space with little hassle.

Remember that trends come and go quickly. Timeless designs will always outlast fleeting trends and short-lived fashion statements. Be mindful when making choices and opt for pieces that will last generations. One of my personal favourites is my grandfather’s typewriter, passed on to me from my mother; it represents an individuality unaffected by trends. Select objects that portray you as a person; the goal is to create a space which can physically express who you are.

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Not everything needs to look pristine. Acquire furniture that matters to you, made from hard-wearing materials. Do not be afraid to let your pieces go through the process of aging; this naturally improves their nature, beauty and character. For flooring materials, I tend to select wood or marble finishes in muted colours, instead of products that date quickly such as porcelain tiles. Keep to the same idea regarding furniture; most brands will offer both trendy colours and neutral palettes. Playing only with neutral colours can be boring so injecting your own style is important, even if that means introducing a red sofa. 

Try to avoid excessively textured and patterned furnishings as trendy textured designs tend to have a short life span. Should you choose to include motifs, incorporate it in pieces with fabric applications, such as area rugs, curtains or soft furnishings, which steer away from fast changing trends. 

Nature is an important element for many designers, myself included. Integrating plants into the environment creates a more interesting space. Plants are great—they clean the air, aid relaxation, and make lovely decorative elements. They are always growing and changing which guarantees a great natural look at a low cost. The simplicity of design, elements of nature and imprinting of your personal style will result in an overall timeless space. 

Rodrigo Buelvas Romero

Professor of Interior Design at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Hong Kong

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