A welcome sense of warmth and personality is returning to the room considered the heart of the home writes FUNKE OSAE-BROWN
Chinwe was in search of a room. The kind of room that is curvaceous, made of tactile materials, with quirky details; one that will make her look forward to returning home after work every evening. She found an answer in the super-minimal design popularised by Italian designer, Wiel Arets. ’
This line of minimal design shows the emerging direction in interior design – designs that radiate personality, human touch, and warmth. Today’s home design is about personalisation and distinctiveness in a society where everything tends towards sameness.
Indigenous furniture companies are offering new chic designs of bedroom and kitchen with minimal lacquered, sleek and glossy good looks made of wood. Designers are incorporating variegated timbers design in their creations. Some of the new range includes layered-effect timber doors made of walnut or acacia, which are deliberately uneven to form undulations with steps in places.
“Wood is still very much in vogue,” Tope Adebowale, an interior designer. Its decorative diversity is great and it is rooted in history. Benin people are very good furniture makers and they are skilful in using wood. I have incorporated some of their works in my interior designing ideas. In the last two years or so, I have used furniture made of natural timber and timber veneer with variation and interest. Interior furnishings especially for the bedroom and kitchen have gone beyond cold, unfriendly boxes and shiny, flat surfaces.”
Truly, one of the reasons why people are falling in love with wood again is for its longevity. In many homes, scratched resin surfaces cry out for replacement, but scuffed wood suggest life being lived. The green potential of wood also underscores its popularity. At the showroom of Interior Options, Ilupeju, Lagos, Shimmer tables and chairs, delectable yet sturdy and superbly attractive textural pieces with impeccable eco credentials, are on display. In the near future, Muni Shonibare, managing director, Interior Options says it is possible that wood production will eclipse pollutant-producing plastics.
Fun and personality are increasingly what bespoke clients are demanding especially when it comes to bedroom furnishing. Chest painted with shimmery paint with beautiful lines are some of the latest designs in bedroom furnishing. “Hand painted silver chest are also very common,” says Adebowale. Clients want dresser shape with metallic paint complemented by a beautiful wall paper. For the client, it is often about the furniture, mixture of texture, the finish on the accent piece of furniture. Customers are ready for greater experimentation,” she admits.
Just as bedroom furnishing is moving on, kitchen furnishing is not lagging behind either. Interior designers are experiencing an unapologetic desire from our clients to welcome back tasteful touches of glamour, nature and decoration in their kitchens. Clients are demanding for unusual stones with intriguing texture or imperfections. There is demand for timbers that celebrate the richness of grain, decorative glass features, splashes of vibrant colour, bespoke leather handles and more. And designers are equally daring to try out new things by mixing things up aesthetically and adding personal touches for clients.
Although both the nostalgia and eco factors are inherent in the material, design with wood is taking a new direction. When Interior Options debut with his latest wood collection a few years ago, the pieces were a bold exclamation mark announcing the new modernity in wooden furniture. Each of the piece is covered in woodblock print panels in bright colours, a little exaggeration of the grain of real wood. “Extravagant and gestural,” as Shonibare describes it. “But they are based on an extremely basic process of printing.” The colour and designs of the pieces are arresting in themselves, but it is the natural painting on some of them that is so enchanting.
Some designers also use plywood for carcases rather than pure wood which refers to the 1950s functionality says Dare Ogundana, a furniture maker. He explains that post world war furniture making in Europe also have a great influence on local designs. According to him, the post world war frugality dictated materials and influenced form, it was the subsequent school of mid-century modernism that saw designers using wood to create truly radical work.
This is what Ogundana describes as the furniture of the future and it is this period that echoed in the 21st century wooden furniture. “In Europe, mid-century craftsmen perfected the art of working with wood, engineering design methodologies and production processes to streamline manufacturing,” Ogundana explains.
Therefore, mid-century modernism changed the figure of wooden furniture and the way consumers perceived a simple wooden chair or table. New modern designs in Nigeria are influenced by aviation, elements, science, fiction and common every day experiences or by foreign modern designs.
In contemporary times, most decorations and furnishing come in synthetic forms with perfect finishing that result in breathtaking looks. One marvels at the improvement and innovation the developers bring to bear, and which has as well, reshaped many people’s sense of aesthetics and style.
A reflection of one’s shadow on a glittering wooden floor or on a polished dining table can be intriguing. The effortless swinging of window blind at the click of a remote control button, rolling of moveable leather sofa or opening of an slide window are now with more convenience.
However, there is still a place and value for wood in modern decorations and furnishing. With the difficulties in cleaning synthetic rugs and carpets, the perfect finishing of hardwood floors to a brilliant gleam seems to be trendy with less inconvenience for lovers of wood products. A beautiful wooden mirror shelf that marries the mirror firmly to the wall leaves one appreciating the strength of the wood anytime his/her image reflects on the mirror, while the bar in the corner of the living room often keeps one thinking of the tree it is made of. But the dining table and chairs still leave much to desire of wood.