Image Source Allbirds

‘To Fit Into Silicon Valley, Wear These Wool Shoes’. It was this headline that grabbed my attention whilst I was scanning through The New York Times. Why? Next month, Maison & Objet, a trade fair dedicated to celebrating lifestyle, decoration and design will be showcasing in the French capital. The chosen theme for September’s show is ‘Comfort Zones’.

So what does this theme have in common with the wool shoes brought to the market by the brand Allbirds? Jason Henry reports in The New York Times that these shoes are comfort for uncomfortable times.

That very sentence pinpoints the sentiment fuelling consumer mood. Maison & Objet is seeking to use design to help people navigate away from the uncomfortable realities of an unstable world where no one feels safe.

Image Source Maison & Objet

The trade show is inspiring professionals and creatives to reflect upon what ‘the good life’ means and how this can be translated into the home experience. Questions such as how design can invite people to experience physical calm and achieve a peace of mind will be explored. The use of curves within design is replacing straight lines to generate a sense of cocooning. Designers are experimenting with shapes to generate sensibilities that are protective and enveloping.

Inspiration points include nests, clouds, bubbles and balls. All of which supply reassurance and relaxation. The exhibit will showcase pale pinks that are nurturing and toned-down pastels that aid tension. Soft fabrics and materials resonate with this sentiment and generate a sense of wellbeing and comfort.

The visual trend for comfort zone comes following the proliferation of micro homes and small-scale design as demonstrated by the rise of shepherd huts, the launch of Muji’s minimalist house this autumn and the Barbican’s Japanese House exhibit earlier this year.

So what conclusions can we draw from all of this? There is a necessity for retail design to consider how comfort can inspire the visual direction to effectively and emotively resonate with consumers.