The Denfair Furniture Fair, held recently in Melbourne, is constantly focused on contemporary Australian designs. “The idea behind Denfair was simply to give Australia a platform to promote original design without compromise,” Thibaud Cau-Cecile told the Financial Review.

Cau-Cecile, along with Claudio Oyarce, manages Unwritten Shows, the organising body behind the fair. He said, “In the past, most design exhibitions have been done by very large corporations, with very strict formulas and guidelines they apply to many different industry sectors. We come from a creative background, and our team is composed of designers. We don’t have set rules, grids, floorplans. Our goal is to create an immersive experience of Australian design for the trade but also for the public.”

In its third year, the space at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre allocated to designer and brand stands has tripled, from 4500sqm the first year to 12,000sqm now.

Attended by over 8000 people, the three-day event featured carefully curated spaces from over 350 local and international brands and designers. Here are some of the biggest trends emerging from Denfair 2017, according to Domain.

Colour comes back

For the last five years the design world has been inundated with shades of grey and muted pastels, but this Scandi-inspired palette was noticeably missing from this year’s fair. “The warmer tones [are] coming through a little more, the colder greys seem to be on the way out,” Natalie Culina, head of commercial at King Living, told Domain.

The resurgence of colour for home furnishings comes as a response to the latest architectural trends, in particular, the return of natural and industrial material choices. “When you’re using industrial finishes like concrete and marble, steel, you can’t continue with a grey palette, that’s where colour comes alive and it works,” says Anna McRae, creative director at Molmic. “People are becoming a lot more courageous with investing in pieces with colour.”

The 70s revival

Furniture design is harking back to the 1970s for inspiration. Velvet, jewel colours and indoor plants were often a central focus for many of the booths at Denfair.

For McRae, the return and popularity of the 1970s in the design world is about nostalgia. The comfort of velvet and the calming nature of indoor plants transport us back to a simpler time and help to provide a sanctuary from the hectic world we’re living in.

“For lounge and living room furniture it’s about down time, it’s about taking moments … to be in the moment. Interiors are reflecting that,” she says. “It’s about creating little nooks in the home [where] you can just slip away. It doesn’t need to be a big room, it can be a little corner in your bedroom.”

The outdoor room

The rise of beautiful and practical outdoor furniture meant that many brands showcased a range that could just as easily be in the living room as the outdoor room.

“I think we’re beginning to understand the aesthetics on the outside,” says John Kangas, sales consultant at Domo. “Fabrics are the ‘in’ thing, they have to be tactile and practical, they actually have to be durable [and] mould-resistant; they have to cover all of the bases.”

Melbourne-based Tait has a strong reputation for innovative outdoor furniture so it was no real surprise that its latest collection, Trace by Adam Goodrum, won Denfair’s prestigious Best Product Award.

“You used to just hang your washing out and cook on the barbie and bring it inside. Now [consumers] have realised you can create a beautiful place to entertain people or just relax. People are investing quite a lot in it,” said Susan Tait, creative director of Tait.

Exhibiting their furniture in a colour palette of terracotta, navy, black and off-white, Susan and managing director Gordon Tait explain that the latest look for outdoor furniture is chunky, robust and soft, in shapes that encourage conversation and relaxation. To complement their furniture, Tait have also introduced a range of outdoor bar carts for those wanting something a little special.

“People are wanting to have that luxurious outdoor set up,” Susan says. “If you need it in your lounge room or kitchen you need it outside.”

Bathroom spa style

More recently, the bathroom has morphed from purely functional to personal retreat.

The three biggest design trends in this category are Nordic minimalism, neo-traditional and hotel-inspired.

“People are really taking their cues from experiences in hotels, both from a local level and international,” says Daniela Santilli, bathroom marketing leader at Reece.

“Organic and round designs are what’s coming through for tapware. People tend to be a bit more adventurous … We’re seeing metallics and blacks starting to come through.”

Technology in the bathroom is also rapidly developing.  “Dual flush was the most recent technology in the last couple of decades, but now rimless technology is important,” says Santilli. “Rimless will become the new standard toilet suite. It’s more hygienic and easier to clean.”

Santilli reveals that we’ll soon see the introduction of a smart toilet, complete with bidet functionality, temperature control, heated seats and an in-built fan.

From Fairfax Media