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Trend research: SuperNormal House - Basic living

[…] a special kind of normality. (Jasper Morrison)

In the world of design, interior design and design in general architects and designers have embraced what amounts to a very real declaration of intent, rather than a trend, as regards the role of design. The French designer Ora Ito summarised it in a neologism, “Simplexity”, i.e. the art of simplifying complicated things.

Jasper Morrison has spoken about the “need” for design to become less obtrusive and focus on what is its primary remit: to improve people’s lives.

The rediscovered mission of design that endeavours to give shape to everyday objects mirrors strong expectations from people who have undergone a change of taste and attitude to consumption in general over the last few years and, in particular, to the products that fill their everyday lives and the homes they live in.

Acquiring and possessing an innovative object or furnishing or adopting a “cool” lifestyle has long responded to the need to outwardly “exhibit” a coveted form of elegance, whose main value lay in appearance.

These days a more evolved set of consumer values, conscious of the need to rethink market models and paradigms, seems also to be tending in the opposite direction, towards simplification, pragmatism, efficiency and durability. In short, towards a more conscious manifestation of cool, which is also triggering a new look that could be described as “normalised” but far from banal.

This new concept of cool can be measured by its ability to impact positively on quality of life, to trigger intelligent and practical solutions, and to keep up with the well-established norms of contemporary taste. What is being sought - and this also applies to building the domestic space - is a “NEW NORMALITY” created by objects and interventions that may be minimal but which are geared to solving big and small contingent problems as satisfactorily, effectively, functionally and aesthetically as possible. 


In her literary/decluttering book “The Magical Power of Tidying-Up” (Vallardi, 2014), the Japanese writer Marie Kondo talks about the great influence that decluttering and efficient organisation of living spaces have on people’s lives: they build self-confidence, free the mind, counter attachment to the past, valorise precious things and stop you making useless acquisitions. A tidy home in which we are surrounded only by essential objects breeds serenity, as per Zen philosophy. 


The Japanese culture, like the Nordic culture, is one of the major proponents of a return to the basic elements of home life. Design Soil is a Kobe Design University educational project that challenges teachers and students to explore ordinariness through design in order to create new domestic landscapes in which the furnishings dialogue effectively with the lifestyles of those who use them. The project has sparked designs such as “By the Window”, an internal partition shaped like a square window on which one can sit and look “out”, or which can be used to hold small objects – a piece of clothing, a glass, a book - while a connection between two spaces is set “silently” up. 


Then there is “Perch”, a rack for storing shoes in regular use that always end up being left lying around, like the electric wires on which birds perch securely from time to time. Both were showcased at Fuorisalone 2016.


What we are actually witnessing is a conscious and “topicalised”, yet far from impersonal, return to the functional and minimalist origins of modern design, as summarised beautifully by Mies Van der Rohe: It’s better to be good than to be original.

The SuperNormal macrotrend is split into three microtrends: Small&Smart, Low Tech and Extra-Ordinary Design.