Cutting shapes: our designer’s latest obsession
“Modern life is an assault on the senses – especially visually. It’s only when you stop that you see beauty in the simplest shapes.”
Whether you’re aware of it or not, from the moment you wake up, you’re interacting with shapes. From the circular button that unlocks your rectangular smartphone, to the urban skyline that awaits your commute, brimming with juxtaposing trapezes, triangles and squares.
City life throws shapes at us, often without us realising it. The key is, to catch them. “Modern life is an assault on the senses – especially visually” says Sam, the Head of Product Design here at Swoon. “It’s only when you stop that you see the beauty in the simplest shapes.”
A trend towards designs sporting bold, graphical silhouettes has started emerging everywhere from fashion to furniture. And we’re on board. To get the lowdown, we decided to pick Sam’s brain to find out what it’s all about.
Hey Sam, what’s the inspiration behind this trend?
The main inspiration behind this group of designs or this trend is large and graphical but simple shapes. It kind of flips on its head the way that we normally design. We normally base the genesis of our designs on pattern and texture, whereas this is more about large-scale shapes that are really easy to understand. Very bold.
So why has this become a trend, do you think?
I think that the ever-increasing way that we consume and use technology has caused us to gain a familiarity with bolder, cleaner and more graphical shapes. If you look at any apps, they’re designed to catch your attention with very simple shapes and structures and I think that’s started to inform the way we see the world around us.
I’m also drawing on my own experience – I live in a city. Most of us now live in cities and towns and we’re constantly surrounded by architecture, graphics and the urban landscape in general. When you think about it, those environments are made up of bold, graphical shapes. I think that being surrounded by these shapes and forms so regularly means that we have a real natural affinity to them.
Which products fit into this trend then?
If you look at our current collection, you can find things where, even though we hadn’t defined this as a trend at the time, there are pieces that incorporate elements of it – which proves that it’s something that’s been on our minds subconsciously while designing. If you look at the Banner and the handle’s relationship with the doors, it’s simple shapes that are unbalanced with the cabinet behind it. It’s all about asymmetry.
The Kendo cabinet is about layering and colour with a really simple stripe. But there’s not an emphasis on pattern or texture like there are with many of our other products. It’s about the graphics behind the piece. Another example is the Aravali side table – the way that the marble is cut and laid in the brass is asymmetric, and the shapes are bold so are easy to understand.
And what about new pieces?
In particular, we’ve recently launched a shelving unit called the Pablo which has a Mondrian-esque arrangement of brass-plated shapes as its back panel. It really encapsulates this trend.
How would you use one of these pieces in a home?
I suppose it’s about layering and bringing collections and arrangements of these pieces together. There are times when you want the focus of the room to be on one beautiful object and there will be times with these types of designs where that’s the case too, but, because of the use of simple shapes, these pieces are really easy to layer and will create a bigger impact if they’re used together.
And lastly, what’s so great about using these types of products in your home?
The great thing about using these types of products and shapes in a space is that they create real interest and impact, whether you group them together or use them as standalone pieces.
Watch our interview with Sam here.