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Beyond Décor: Rachel Nunziata

Need to Impress the Client? Brush Up on Your Design Styles

Understanding the origin of a certain design can help you sell a project.




HAVE YOU EVER noticed the saying “History repeats itself” is sometimes true? Human behavior is a funny thing. As creatures of habit, we gravitate toward what we find comforting, and as a primal way of protecting oneself, reject what we don’t. Similarly, there’s a psychological aspect to trends influenced by multiple variables, especially by how we feel. History points us to art movements and styles born out of stressful times, like war – art deco emerged before World War I in France and abstract expressionism came about post World War II.

My advice here is you don’t necessarily have to go down this rabbit hole, although it makes for interesting conversation. You can instead brush up on the basics, like popular design motifs and aesthetics, and learn a little about their history. Perhaps it’s a stretch, but what if you’re working on a historical timeline mural and you can suggest decorative soft goods and feature walls that reflect the era throughout the space? Hey, that’s a smart upsell! In my past experiences in both sales, marketing, and product development roles, having at least some contextual design knowledge can go a long way. Remember, at the end of the day you’re selling. If you can connect with the client and speak their language, they’re more apt to work with you again or refer you to their network.

Traditional prints and patterns don’t entirely cease to exist, but they do resurface in newer, more modern iterations, depending on what’s trending. Chinoiserie is having a moment in wallcovering and textiles thanks to the grand millennial aesthetic. In this example, Chinoiserie (pronounced: \ shēn-‘wäz-rē) is a 17th century European romanticized take on Chinese and Eastern Asian motifs; peacocks, cherry blossom trees, and sophisticated blue and white patterns, often seen on pottery, make for perfect applications on wallcoverings, upholstery, and decorative pillows.

Art Deco inspired products are also flooding the market. Based on my interpretation (take it with a grain of salt), this trend evolved from recent geometric and graphic trends, as it’s elevated and influenced by fashion and jewelry. But where did Art Deco come from aside from your algorithms’ suggestions on Pinterest? Coincidentally, it’s another style of art, architecture, and design first seen in France just before World War I in the 1920s at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Bold ornamental designs, clean lines, and jewel tones describe the essence of this motif. So, if you’re asked to print an Art Deco inspired design, consider suggesting specialty mylar faced PVC wallcovering or luxe looking fabrics such PFP chenille or velvet.

Finally, my favorite tried and true style: Scandinavian. You might be thinking flat pack furniture by the blue and yellow giant IKEA, but, Scandinavian, aka Scandi, is a sleek and warm derivative of Nordic countries first seen in the 1950s. At first glance, it could remind you of mid-century modern due to its minimalist wood crafted furniture, but make no mistake; a core tenant of Scandi is also based on functionality. One of the cool benefits I find with Scandi style is the ability to mix and match as its simplicity can lean toward other styles and create a hybrid look. If you’re faced with a Scandi-esque project, point your client to fabrics and grounds that emulate smooth surfaces, warm finishes, and bright solid colors.
The next time you’re faced with a project with a specific design style in mind, take a few minutes to understand the style. In your planning conversations with clients, you won’t skip a beat.




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