Aug 10, 2019 | By Luke Tebbutt
Mar 26, 2019
By Allyson Rees
Google the phrase “millennial minimalism” and you’ll find hundreds of think pieces on why millennials have so embraced minimalism. It’s because their Baby Boomer parents were so acquisitive. It’s because of Marie Kondo. It’s because they care about the environment. It’s because renting has caused them to move so frequently, they’ve done away with every worldly possession outside of a few plants. It’s because they hate serifs.
All of those things may be true, but one thing is for sure: the narrative of minimalist-loving millennials has proliferated the market, so much so that mass retailers are pandering to this aesthetic. E-commerce giants like Amazon, Walmart and Wayfair all include “Scandi” and “minimalist” as key merchandising stories, in which plain grey furniture, metallic lighting and succulents and be mixed and matched to create the ultimate Millennial-friendly wellness space. But in this era of millennial minimalism and social media conformity, where the aesthetic gets watered down to the lowest common denominator, is there a place for maximalism?
We started tracking a return of maximalism in interiors after Milan Design Week 2017, and have also watched it take over fashion, thanks namely to Gucci and Alessandro Michele, but it’s been a slower burn for interiors. This is due to the nature of interiors products—they’re larger scale, more expensive purchases in which consumers often want to stick with a classic piece that will stand the test of time, rather than a “trend-piece.” Whereas minimalism is for everyone—it’s simple, straightforward and can’t be messed up—maximalism requires some risk, in addition to modicum of taste and knowledge of colour, scale and material—all things the average consumer isn’t necessarily confident they possess.
It’s refreshing, then, to see a handful of new brands and launches aim to reframe maximalism for the millennial market, not as the trend of crazy-aunt-junk-hoarders, but as the mark of self-expression, taste and an editor’s eye. While the e-commerce market is filled places to shop minimalist décor, the same can’t be said for maximalist products. Maximalist Candy, which launched in January, has accrued almost 46k Instagram followers since it launched earlier this year. Despite its higher than average prices, the site has seen solid sales. “A good conversion rate in e-commerce is 1.4 percent,” co-founder Tim Scully told Business of Home. “There was one day when our conversion rate was 124 percent.”
The Millennial generation’s favorite maximalist grandma, Iris Apfel, is getting into the interiors game with a collaboration with Nude Glass. The otherwise minimalist brand tapped Apfel to curate a collection of glassware and vases, no doubt to generate buzz and get the attention that Apfel’s brand affiliation always garners. In January, Apfel continued her relevancy with the younger generation when she was signed to IMG models, at the age of 97.
After a slew of Millennial-minded collaborations with designer Clare V, Refinery 29’s Christine Barberich and influencer SF Girl by Bay, DTC furniture brand The Inside decided to go heritage and maximalist. Its collaboration with luxury print house Scalamandré is a surprising choice, as the wallcovering and fabric brand is often associated with mid-century socialites and not Instagram influencers. Still, the collection, which features four archival patterns in new colourways, feels fresh, something that would easily be spotted Kylie Jenner’s Calabasas house or Katy Perry’s NYC apartment. Perhaps as these super influencers embrace a more individualistic and maximalist aesthetic, the consumer will follow and get more comfortable expressing themselves through design.
We’re anticipating maximalism will move into the mass market the end of 2019, and don’t want you to miss out. Head to our Future Trends and Colour sections to see how maximalism can work various product categories and markets.
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