Get Real: Design Motifs

May 29, 2008

Welcome to a brand new weekly feature called Get Real. This will be a post for readers to jump in and voice opinions on topics relating to decorating, blogging, small business, and the design world in general. I’ll post a new topic and a few questions to get you started weekly on Thursdays. Then everyone is free to jump in and participate. If you have any questions that you would like addressed, please email your suggested topic to me and I’ll consider it for Get Real. This week we’re talking about trends…

Zig zags are hot, silhouettes remain strong, birds are big, what would you like to see become a more common design motif? An octopus? Seahorse? Fox? How about a shape? Maybe some polka dots? Nesting dolls? Deer? Please don’t say Spread legs!

Go ahead, throw some ideas out, maybe it will inspire the many lovely artists and designers who stop by and read this post. You never know who is reading, your idea may kick off the next big thing. This is also your space to vent about the motifs you can’t stand and why. It’s important to be honest about design because let’s face, everyone isn’t loving the exact same things and it’s okay to admit it!

I hope you enjoy Get Real!


  • Reply LINDSAY May 29, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    I just leased a brand new art studio today (I’ve been waiting 5 long years for this) and I stopped by for some much needed decor inspiration for my new digs. I always seem so drawn to colors, designs, and art you post here…BUT while the forum is open for dislikes…. zebra and cowhide rugs are in every design mag I open…I’m so sick of seeing them! I just saw them in a decor store and they actually smelled like the animal…ewwwww!

  • Reply Keely May 30, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I really think it would be great to see more tree silhouettes and owls. What’s your input on the matter?

  • Reply MissK May 30, 2008 at 12:56 am

    I’m really into diamond shapes right now,especially on borders.

  • Reply S. L. May 30, 2008 at 12:56 am

    lotus flower, waterlilies too, but mostly lotus flower. that always makes me happy

  • Reply Elizabeth May 30, 2008 at 1:49 am

    I love tree silhouettes too. I also love hedgehogs, and have found a lot of paper and cloth with them lately… but it might just be because I’m looking.

    I also agree about the zebras and cowhide! Ew. No thanks.

  • Reply Wanderluster May 30, 2008 at 1:54 am

    What I’m liking… honeycomb patterns, yellow + grey, seersucker fabric, vintage industrial lighting in contemporary spaces, sea urchins, button mums, lacquer, the shape of an egg.

    What I’m not liking… damask wallpaper (its everywhere!), pink + brown, retro without a mix of modern day, blue-grey.

  • Reply montevideana May 30, 2008 at 1:56 am

    I love silhouettes of kitchen utensils or drawings of old stuff, specially in tea towels design.

    here two examples:



    When I was a child I used to visit my grandmother, who lives in another town, and marvel at her collection of tea towels. Now I understand what a wonderful world that is!

  • Reply Incagirl May 30, 2008 at 2:44 am

    I am loving, white rooms with pops of color, bright pink, crimson red and turquoise.

  • Reply AT May 30, 2008 at 4:22 am

    If I like something, I would much rather it not become a trend because then:
    -suddenly it’ll be everywhere, and then
    -everyone will have it, and it won’t feel unique anymore, and then
    -everyone will be over it.
    We should just go with whatever we like, right? Who cares if it’s a trend?

  • Reply m. heart May 30, 2008 at 4:32 am

    great timing for this question, just this week i was inspired to post about the graphic symmetry and bright colors of dutch folk art influence (think hex signs) with a few examples of products!

  • Reply absolutelyawesomethings May 30, 2008 at 5:43 am

    I really like to mix unique things,antique ,ethnic things and great photo frames to keep family memories. I also like some polka dots .To me is more of what sooth my heart and what I enjoy looking at than trend!

  • Reply ellencrimitrent May 30, 2008 at 5:49 am

    okay I have something for you I am sick and tired of too much computer generated art, and I say this as I just bought myself a Wacom a short while ago.

    I am not saying there is no use for it because why would I buy one but we need more fabo illustrators who paint. I think its important to have many tools to use to create but everytime I look at these surface design blogs all I see is computer work and I worry about the little old painters like myself. I know that the trend is going back that way because many of my clients are asking for a pained style rather than a computer generated one which I am pleased about.

    I do not mean to offend those who create fabo designs in this medium and believe me I am jealous since I am not good at it I am just looking for those who are like me!!

    Okay enough and by the way I think that birds are here for awhile and hedgehogs are on the rise as well as brights. Who doesn’t need some bright colors to make you feel good in this lousy economy?

  • Reply vol25 May 30, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Wow, what an inspiring subject! I am going to really enjoy this weekly feature. I finished my first tree silhouette print months ago. I loved how it turned out, but am inspired to make a second attempt! :)

    I am really enjoying seeing the use of quotes in other artists work. It is always amazing to me how one artist/person will interpret a particular quote as compared to another.

  • Reply juliette May 30, 2008 at 7:52 am

    I’m totally over birds, but I believe they’re here to stay. I’m also done with animal skins and mid-century furniture. Modern’s ok, but mid-century just reminds me of a scourgy old Danish apt I had to live in for 6 months – there was nothing redemptive in that place.

    I love me some polka dots and circles in general. Round pillows – nobody makes them – somebody please start making them for less than $75/each!

    ok – and also, enough with the clear plastic chairs. I keep reading how uncomfortable they are – and pricey too…how about some comfy real-world design? btw- this is why I like this blog – Holly puts her real personality on here and it’s not just a catalog.

  • Reply kristine May 30, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I would have to agree with Ellen…a little tired of vector art. Things got so digital looking and flat. There are some people that do it well, but a lot of it is pre-set gradients and brushes.

    I see toadstools on the rise.

  • Reply Erin Lang Norris May 30, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Although I don’t really like to follow the trends when creating my work or decorating my apartment, I think this is a great topic!

    I think it’s important that a person goes with what they like rather than liking something because it’s “in”, but when seeking inspiration, I’d have to say that trends may be a good place to start because they often revolve around a particular theme.

    Trends I’m liking:

    + Moroccan design.
    + Industrial inspired rooms.
    + Houses- illustrations, etc.
    + Pillows grouped together.
    + Naturalist decor.
    + Mix of old and new.
    + Books arranged by color.
    + Collections displayed.

    Trends I’m not fond of:

    + Damask.
    + Any type of animal print…ick.
    + Those coat racks with the different colored balls on them…are they Nelson? Not sure.
    + Everyone using birds in their work because they know it will sell.
    + Entire rooms made from IKEA.
    + Steampunk trend…hoping it’s not carried into home design!
    + Those cutesy sayings that come in sticker form to put on your wall. I’ve seen it done in a cool manner one time (said “shoes off, near the floor, in not-cutesy letters) but the others sicken me!

    Okay that’s all…

  • Reply diana May 30, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Stamp designs, I’ve seen some super cool ones about. I love the illustrations on stamps and to think it’s such a little space, yet so much creativity crammed in there. The colour combo’s of the
    50’s and 60’s stamps are just beautiful.

  • Reply Beth Leintz May 30, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I’m still in love with toile- but how about a reinvented version- teapots, trees, fleur di lis??? And maybe in some new colors- pumpkin, avocado, black cherry.

  • Reply Jennifer May 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Great ideas! Coming from the fashion accessory world, I love to get inspiried by what’s happening in interior design. After scouring the fabric and trim markets for a new project I’m working on, I heard an earful about how lace is going to be a huge trend. I think we’re going to see a lot of it in play by fall/next spring…..Meanwhile, I’m in summer mode and loving bright polka dot, plaid and stripe color combos.

  • Reply Anonymous May 30, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I would like to see wallpaper, good wallpaper, readily and easily available in the US. Ordering online, sure, but right now you have to generally order from overseas, figure out a way to get a trade only shop to sell to you or go to Walnut (which I’ve done and didn’t enjoy). Let’s get a US site for wallpaper going (not Eades either)!

  • Reply Laura @ Shore Chic. May 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I like old school toile (as long as it’s not too crazy/colorful) — but I *love* what some designers are doing to modernize it…like Sheila Bridges’ “Harlem toile de Jouy.” I’d love to see more modern &/or retro toile designs.

  • Reply Sarah May 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I agree with the first comment, no more cowpatterns anywhere please…
    If you want a tip on walldecorations of owls, trees and beehivepatterns take a look at scandinaviandesigncenter.com and search for Ferm Living, they have some beautiful wall decorations.

    What I dislike, I am sick of turqoise, I have seen it in every interior design store in Sweden for many years, pleas go for crisp green instead!

  • Reply Amanda May 30, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    This is a great new part of your site! Here’s my 2 cents.

    Trends I think are played out: Birds, Moroccan influences, wall decals, plastic chandeliers, mirrored furniture, mounted deer heads, re-glazing used china, and those mini faux sheepskin rugs.

    Trends that I’m enjoying: Faux bois, sustainability, unusual table legs, super graphic rugs, chartreuse, Flor, affordable prints, white on white, shell chairs, orange, tall ships, ikea hacking, better pet furniture, steampunk, glove molds, danish furniture, and the wallpaper revival.

    Future Trends I hope! Classic plaids, folk/modern mash ups, reupholstering with odd materials, home libraries, sustainability, terrariums, laboratory inspired furniture and accessories, giraffes, jewel drawings, wire and metal mesh furniture, smoked glass, cowboy modern and color wood stains instead of paint.

  • Reply My May 30, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I am still lovin seahorses. Maybe it is a little cliche but I still love them especially with the season.

  • Reply angeliaa May 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I am working on a new line right now, with a mix of industrial, modern, nature.
    I will always love circles and dots.
    I also like seeing stitches and other production techniques in finished products.

  • Reply muchacha K and SPEAKEASY BOUTIQUE May 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Polka dots are classic and they play to my personal love of all things flamenco. Polka dots are totally flamenco-riffic. And for a simple shape they are very versatile…vary the size and you find a whole new appropriate appplication for them. I also love mixing them with other patterns, it’s something I like to put into my own designs…

  • Reply decor8 May 30, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Keely — Thank you for asking.

    MORE: Patchwork, Stitches, Modern Quilts, Yellow, traditional African prints with a modern twist, and more options when it comes to Ceramic Pendants.

    Also Birch Trees, Ladybugs, Peonies, Tiny Alligators (think izod shirts from the 80s), Bees (we have to save them so it’s part awareness too), and Cursive fonts.

  • Reply Meg May 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Ooooo this is such a great idea Holly!

    What I would love to see more of is unique designs to our age. I’m really sick of all the ‘throw back’ designs. I don’t want to here that the ’20s are ‘big’ this season – or that ‘mid-century’ is sooo hot.

    Lets think for our selves and make something really great and all our own!

    That being said – if you like trees, check out my handpainted plates!

  • Reply boltandfrolic May 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Bunnyrabbits! I love everything about them!! I’m working on a line of pillows and quilts inspired by my wonderful houserabbits (it’s so nice to take a break from work and go play with those 2 softies!!)

    Bees are endearing to me too; my own graphic design logo (for 22 years) is a bee on a hexagon.

    (I’m also tired of seeing that deer head motif for so many years in a row.)

  • Reply Tracey May 30, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Loving the color yellow right now- maybe because it’s so summery. Strong color pops in a minimal, modern white decor- fun and hip! I think pinks and browns have been a bit overplayed.

  • Reply Cindy Ann Ganaden May 30, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I just did a trip to NYC and while i was there I visited the Folk Art Museum. I have to say I was really inspired by Lions Motifs and Stylized Fraktur Florals.

  • Reply Ele May 30, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Hey this is a useful feature!

    I’m glad some commenters are digging the giraffes, seahorses and ladybugs, because they are things I’ve been wanting to create lately. Also butterflies, octopi, squid, jellyfish.

    I do love the faux bois. I think birds are here to stay for a while. I’m fond of the steampunk. I see a lot of nature inspired things still (trees, mushrooms, woodland creatures – maybe this includes the mentioned hedgehogs, wildflowers). Somehow ‘tea’ seems to be a theme everywhere (tea as comfort item, teapots, etc.) Science, historic scientific illustration and cabinets of curiosity seem to be gaining influence -I’ve seen this called ‘Darwin chic’! White with brights looks fabulous and will be around for a while.

    I liked the look of the deer heads, but think that trend is over.

    best wishes,
    Ele (aka minouette.etsy.com)

  • Reply Sara May 30, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    First, off, I have to say that I love your blog, Holly! I really enjoy your positive, open, down-to-earth attitude, as well as your great style!

    I like this question and am having fun reading the others’ comments.

    I’m not a big fan of:


    wallpaper everywhere (I actually like some of it, and especially like it used creatively on furniture and accessories to customize them, but until they make it easy to come off your walls, I’m not putting it up. This is probably because I’m still working on taking down heinous mint green and peach 80’s floral wallpaper in my 1930 house ;).

    lots of white

    I LOVE tree silhouettes, lots of color, mixing old and new styles, interesting wood, natural elements, bold graphics.

  • Reply ArtShades May 30, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    I too have seen enough damask – especially in black and white. I am loving texture – striped velvet fabric like Swaffer’s Willow range and slubby linens.

    Like you, I love to see stitches (they are a prominent feature in my own work) and also the hand-blocked look in fabric and wallpaper.

    I’m sick of seeing painted furniture – so many beautiful woodgrains are being drowned in white paint. I love Victorian mahogany and solid oak furniture.

    I suppose to sum up it’s the natural materials and the hand- worked look I love!

  • Reply Ricki Mountain May 30, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    I just finished up the HD Show http://www.hdexpo.com in Vegas, after walking the show. I noticed the big trends coming. Green is one very body?s mind, I also noticed
    Bamboo, and Zen, & Buddha?s. Lastly
    Images etched on Metal (everywhere). Very Trend Forward.
    Orange is the new black
    Ricki Mountain

  • Reply jen May 30, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    First, I have to say ‘woo-hoo’ to orange being the new black. For once, I’m ahead of the game…

    My thoughts on coming trends aren’t so much on the specific motifs but rather the aesthetic behind them. Someone further up mentioned the economy and, between that and the worries over global climate change (and the relationship between the two!), I think we’ll be seeing even more focus on sustainability, both in materials used (natural fibers, renewable woods…like bamboo, etc.,) and in the creation/manufacturing process.

    Small scale production and handmade goods will be more and more popular.

    I’ve been thinking this will be something like an “anti-Industrial Revolution”, not in the hippies from the 60s sense and certainly not some sort of neo-Luddite movement but rather in the Arts and Crafts movement sense.

    Maybe. LOL

  • Reply Meg May 30, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    @jen –
    Lets hope so!!

  • Reply Anonymous May 30, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Anatomical art…old drawings from vintage science books that are teamed up with modern designs.

  • Reply Betsy May 31, 2008 at 12:59 am

    i am really digging those oversized floral motifs that i am seeing on bedding, throw pillows and wall paper. a modern spin on feminine.

  • Reply marlaakajake May 31, 2008 at 12:20 pm


    I love all white walls and the use of a rich wood be it lt. or dark to play off your furniture and art.
    I am also tired of computerized art that plays off photos. I like celery, olive, khaki,w/brt.whts, and salmon,drk greys,creams,w/brt whts. i think each room should flow into one another with gradual change of a new color and a room for just plain old creams and whts with a hint of baby blue or pink for is beautiful also. pale pink and salmon with hints of lt. greys are pretty…then always splash in bright white! I love white drapes!!! I’m sick of the too modern look already. I love the mix of modern with country french or contempary w/country french is my favorite…add something from every mode and it will work and be interesting as long as it is simple in color. Lighting is one of the most important decors also. I love the 1930-40’s line of the old lamps. i would like to see more hand works in shades also.
    great site!

  • Reply del4yo June 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm


    These days I’m looking for these things for inspiration:

    old imari Japanese patterns

    floral and bird motifs of the end of 19th century, in France, but more pompier than Art Nouveau.

    wall papers and prints by Paule Marot and other in between wars French designers

    folk art, not only Dutch, but anything cute like Hungarian embroidery and flower paintings.

    I have an big crush these days for colorfull quilts with white backgrounds,
    and the crocheted blanket is back I’m afraid.

    After 5 years or so of colorfull boldness and cutouts, I long for cute,intricated details to add some bazaar charm to impersonal rooms.

    Thanks for asking!

  • Reply Justine June 2, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    if we’re talking motifs, I love:

    lemon yellow and pale grey
    trellis patterns
    portrait silhouettes

  • Reply becky from hatch June 5, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    How did I miss this post? I think the Ombre purse at H&M and the Ikat pillows ON CLEARANCE at Target show that these two trends have hit the tipping point.

    The number of zebra rugs per magazine is a joke. They are a classic though.

    I don’t like the look of an area rug atop wall to wall carpeting.

    Oops, were we supposed to say what we liked?


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