Key Trends from KBIS Keynote

posted on Mar. 13, 2019, at 9:00 a.m.

NKBA Staff

Cindy Allen and a panel of design experts discussed top materials and trends in the design sphere.

By Dianne M. Pogoda

Cindy Allen, editor in chief of Interior Design magazine and chief design officer of its parent, Sandow Media, returned to KBIS in Las Vegas last month for a reprise of her 2018 keynote address, exploring the trends and ideas shaping interior design.

This year, she brought a few friends for a panel discussion. Designers Laura Bohn and Alison Damonte and architect Adam Rolston discussed and celebrated international design trends with an emphasis on the best of global kitchens and baths.

Damonte, principal of Alison Damonte Inc., founded her full-service interior design firm, based in San Francisco’s eclectic Mission District, in 2012.Rolston is creative & managing director and a partner in Inc NYC, an open source, multi-disciplinary, architecture and design studio based in Manhattan. Bohn, principal of New York-based Laura Bohn Design, an international full-service interior design firm, is also a co-founder of The Designers Collaborative, a support group for top designers.

Allen brought up a few key trends buzzing in the current interior design landscape, and the panel elaborated, discussing their use in live projects. Here are a few key takeaways.

  1. Stone: Rolston said one of his clients wanted a “feminine modernism” and stone accents did the trick. He used a line of stone to hide plugs and sockets in her kitchen, bringing in a natural element for the visual illusion.
  2. Color My World: Allen said the designers who do the best with color use it judiciously, often mixing it with white.

“Color makes me happy,” Damonte said. “I tried to be a minimalist and love neutrals, but it’s just not me! Clients look to me for color, and I do have to use some restraint — for instance, just painting a staircase is a strategic use of color.” She agreed that using color as an accent — a bright on one wall — works well, tempered with white. She added that designers can work wonders with inexpensive tiles in interesting shapes and colors, too.

Bohn said she uses huge paintings as “color bombs” to make a statement in a space, adding that cast concrete can also be colored and embedded with a pattern.

Black, the panelists agreed, is definitely back, but often used as an architectural element. A black wall, for instance, helps the TV disappear into the wall when it’s not on, Damonte said. Black is a grounding force when used on the floor or in color-blocking.

Using black also glams up a space, whether it’s in products or whole projects, matte blacks, stain- and fingerprint-resistant surfaces and more. “Your kitchen is now your living room,” said Rolston. “Why not make it sexy?”

  1. Au Naturel: The colors and textures of nature help inspire a calming ambience. And talk about bringing the outdoors in: Bohn designed a home that incorporated actual trees in the living area.
  2. Heavy Metal: The use and mix of various metals is trending, especially brass on countertops, sinks, in the bath or shower, or copper fixtures and surfaces, and antique mirrored glass with metallics on the surface.
  3. Let’s Get Personal: “As a designer,” Allen said, “you’re always looking for your voice It’s a long journey, but those who do this best are those who have found their own voice.”

This could mean establishing that signature element, or being able to work with existing elements in a space that set the design apart.

Damonte said her signature is using color, and once she establishes a trust with her clients, they are more willing to let her run with bright ideas, even “using colorful grout as another design element.”

Bohn recounted a project that had a huge waste pipe running through the living space — it was in a multi-unit building, and therefore was not moveable. She wrapped it in heavy rope and turned it into an art piece. She also likes to anchor spaces with oversized graphics.

Rolston described a hotel project whose entrance had been converted from an old church. He repurposed pews for bench seating, hymn boards for directionals in the lobby, and incorporated other elements that recalled the earlier incarnation of the building.

Allen closed with her famous bits of “Cindy Wisdom.”

  • Be who you are.
  • Fight to be original.
  • Never take the easy road.
  • Be excited by the world around you.
  • Dig in to what you love.
  • Find mentors to support you, and then in turn, support emerging talents.
  • Collaborate without fear of insecurity.
  • Control your design envy – or use it to propel you.
  • Work harder than anyone else in the room.

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