Maxed Out: The rise of the maximalist trend and its impact on commercial interiors

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Jason Holmes – Head of Textile Design at Forbo Flooring Systems

When I first started to think about writing this article, the first signs of spring were beginning to show outside, nature’s colour and vibrancy effectively coming out of hibernation.

At the same time, many of you can’t fail to have noticed that pattern too is coming out of hibernation. The power of colour and surface design is at last breaking through the minimalist winter we have endured. It’s not that I don’t appreciate minimalism as a concept, it’s just that sometimes more is more, right?

I trained as a textile designer and for me it has always been about pattern. The way it repeats, the way your eye is drawn to the structure and scale and most of all the colour, mainly because the choice in design starts with colour. Colour can communicate a message without words, it evokes emotions, creates associations and has the power to affect the whole mood and feel of an environment. Colour is personal and conveys our feelings and values, it is a fundamental part of our freedom to choose. Link colour with pattern and you have a whole new language, the language of design freedom.

Design freedom is about experimentation, discovering new combinations, playing with scale and the juxtaposition of components. It’s about filling a space with diverse elements that provoke, engage and challenge. Forget white walls and plain floors – turn up the volume on colour, and in the case of pattern, bigger is indeed better. This is the essence of Maximalism.

As a trend, Maximalism is growing rapidly – particularly in Leisure and Hospitality, where it provides the perfect opportunity for designers to make a statement, create an identity and wow consumers.

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It is a trend associated with luxury and opulence, but one that comes less from individual items and more from the way they are combined. To get it right each layer of an interior needs to be considered and built up to a point where it just works, like a well curated collection, or more to the point, a collection of collections.

For me that begins with the floor. Very often, flooring is an afterthought in interior design, however by starting with the floor you a get real feel for the space before anything else is added. There is a vast variety of materials and techniques available, the possibilities in flooring are endless, and when it comes to pattern there is even the opportunity to design your own and have them digitally printed onto a variety of materials. In this way, a bespoke element can easily be added. In commercial interiors, this helps to create a sense of the unique and give the opportunity for playing with colour schemes and scale across even the largest projects, particularly where there are different zones or functional areas. Here, pattern can be used as an identifier providing the link between a space and its use. That doesn’t mean of course, that elements should match but more that they should link, creating a flow of styles and colours where a deliberate signature is still visible within an otherwise eclectic mix. I see lots of these types of projects with our flocked floor covering, Flotex – customers are using vibrant and daring designs as ‘inserts’ within a more understated flooring design to bring life to the space.

Maximalism can be quite challenging. Not only for designers, but also for the people who are exposed to it by using the space in question. However, it’s a look that is quite literally growing, layer upon layer and one that is increasingly being seen in both residential and commercial interiors; starting from what might appear initially to be quite a minimal scheme, where touches of it creep in to provide excitement, detail and focal interest, all the way to schemes that explode with a full blown sensory overload and of course everything in between!