Interior design has progressively become a subject of interest among architects and designers. Having spent more time indoors recently, practitioners have been experimenting with their spaces and exploring different approaches to scale, comfort, and aesthetics. Much like everything else, design is highly influenced by external factors; any change to people's lifestyle influences how they respond to it, whether consciously or subconsciously. And while this dynamic is often seen in fashion or graphic design, it has been noticeable in interior design as well. Following years of linear, clean-cut, and refined spaces, curved silhouettes were revived, becoming one of the dominating interior design trends across the world.
What may seem like a contemporary trend actually dates back centuries, when architects found inspiration in nature from the asymmetrical lines of flowers and animals. One of the most prominent examples is Art Nouveau, a movement characterized by the use of organic forms, asymmetric lines, aesthetics, and decorative elements, and the use of stained glass windows and mosaics inspired by Rococó and Baroque. Given that Art Nouveau emerged during a period marked by industrial development and the experimentation of new materials, architecture during that period favored originality and a return to craftsmanship. Architects explored the fluidity of spaces, patterns, and colors, resulting in "unusual" volumes that contrasted their structured surroundings.
Similarly, the use of curvy silhouettes in interior spaces and furniture today is a lot more than just a fleeting design trend. As architects and designers became more aware of the importance of prioritizing users’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being, they began opting for features that promote calmness, optimism, and playfulness, opposing the chaos found outside. This was mainly achieved through biophilic design elements, which offered a sense of escapism. By bringing the outdoors in, whether it through greenery (hanging plants, green walls, large green installations, etc.), the use of natural fibers and local materials, or nature-inspired color palettes, the lines were blurred between man-made structures and the natural environment. Gradually, people began favoring organic-shaped elements over angular geometric forms, re-introducing free-flowing designs into interior spaces.
Contrary to what has been trending during the past decade, humans actually prefer curved visual objects. In a recent experiment led by psychologist Oshin Vartanian of the University of Toronto, the majority of participants preferred curved objects when asked to choose between items that are linear and ones that are curved. The psychological explanation behind it is that looking at curves taps into a primal human emotional network, creating more activity in a brain area called the anterior cingulate cortex, compared to people who were looking at linear surfaces. And the anterior cingulate cortex's many cognitive functions are involved in emotions. When it comes to the visual response of designs, curves are safer as they signal lack of threat; such as comparing emotions evoked by looking at a spoon and knife. Of course, this does not indicate that all sharp silhouettes trigger a negative bias, especially given that geometric and sleek styles have been dominant for a long time.
Given that culture, context, and global events can all influence the way design features are perceived, it is evident that curves are here to stay. Today, neotenic designs are taking the spotlight, featuring voluminous bubbly furniture and playful silhouettes. Aesthetics aside, curves have also proved time and time again that they promote safety, as seen in kids' architecture.
In this interior focus, we will look at how architects embraced curves in their interior designs through 28 projects from our database.
Walls & Partitions
Platforms & Staircases
Furniture & Fit-outs
Interior Architecture & Structure
Find more interiors with curved elements in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.
This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores features of interior architecture, from our own database of projects. Every month, we will highlight how architects and designers are utilizing new elements, new characteristics, and new signatures in interior spaces around the world. As always, at ArchDaily, we highly appreciate the input of our readers. If you think we should mention specific ideas, please submit your suggestions.
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