There is no immediate antidote to 2020’s dark clouds. Nevertheless, arrival of 2021 brings with it hope and the promise of recovery – as evidenced by the colours of the year, ranging from Pantone’s cheery yellow Illumination to Dulux’s soothing beige Brave Ground. Here are top three trends shaping the look(s) of our new normal and simple ways to incorporate theme into your room.

1. Biophilia

Plant parenting is one of the most popular ways to battle the pandemic stress. It is therapeutic, rewarding and irresistibly Instagrammable. Biophilia or the love for nature has long been shaping our domestic environment. The pandemic has simply highlighted the benefit of biophilic design, especially in Singapore’s dense and vertical urban environment. Incorporating it into the design of your home is not that complicated. Here are a few ways: 

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TRANSFORM YOUR BALCONY INTO A GARDEN

All you need are some planters and a lot of patience and love. No balcony space is too small. However, it is important to research the kind of plants suitable for the level of care that you can commit to. Watch our Tiny Garden video series for a deep dive. 

USE MATERIALS THAT AGE GRACEFULLY

Incorporating natural materials that gain patina with time is listed as one of the elements of biophilic design in the book The Practice of Biophilic Design by Stephen R. Kellert and Elizabeth F. Calabrese . Think aged wood and verdigris from copper and any materials that fit the wabi-sabi Japanese aesthetic such as Corten Steel. 

CAN’T MAKE IT? FAKE IT 

Can’t commit to caring for living plants? Create the illusion of a garden with artificial plants on your air-conditioner ledge and in a few corners. Also try refreshing, green ambient scents and turn a regular wall into a feature wall with leafy or floral wallpaper. 


2. Chronotopia

Arguably the most exotic word in this article – but don’t get spooked! Around for some time, the pandemic has also made it more relevant than ever. Chronotopia is derived from “chronotopic”, which means “of a specific time and place”.

Chronotopia at home refers to a space that can cater the function demanded of it in a specific time and place. In short, a flexible, adaptable space that can morph smoothly from one function to another. It’s been used to describe the adaptability of public spaces, say like when a car park becomes a festival venue.

Chronotopia at home refers to a space that can cater the function demanded of it in a specific time and place.

“But with the arrival of new technology, digital solutions and connected devices, chronotopia has gradually edged its way into the intimacy of our homes,” says French journalist Marie Montuir, writing for Maison & Objet. With the living space now a workspace, classroom and gym, how can you make chronotopia work and look great? 

INVEST IN MULTIFUNCTIONAL FURNITURE 

Convertible furniture – like the Murphy bed, an expandable dining table and a foldable screen or room dividers – offers great flexibility. 

FOCUS ON HIGH PORTABILITY 

Take a page from office furniture design and consider getting furniture fitted with castors. 

GET RID OF THE CLUTTER 

 Take special care of cables and electronics, so you can reconfigure your space in a jiffy without tripping over wires. 

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3. Zakka

Is it even a legit design movement if it doesn’t have a Japanese term? Zakka comes from the Japanese term kakka in de zakka which translates to ‘miscellaneous things’. The term refers to Western household items that were a novelty in Japan during the ’50s to ’70s but have since expanded to the mishmash of belongings that spark joy in one’s home.

At best, zakka creates homes with distinct personalities; at worst, it mutates into hoarding. Here’s how to do zakka right: 

IF YOU GOT THEM, FLAUNT THEM 

Got a massive collection of toys, vinyls or novelty spoons? Instead of letting them languish in the storeroom or clutter up the home, make them a part of the decor by presenting them properly. 

DON’T INDISCRIMINATE, CURATE 

Form a structure for your mishmash of belongings by organising them according to themes – colours, sizes or shapes – to create visual rhythm and a cohesive look. There are no strict rules; think of this as more of a guideline. 

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LEAVE A LITTLE BREATHING ROOM 

Balance the density of your items with open space so the eyes get a visual break. 

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