The World of Furniture: 7 ways interior designs are shaped by culture & environment

The World of Furniture: 7 ways interior designs are shaped by culture & environment

Lockdown 2.0 is here, but fear not, it’s time for a little dash of interior-related escapism (even if it is only for a couple of minutes). 

Our natural surroundings are incredibly important to how we use our space - culture and climate being the main factors influencing our home. The way we build and dress our interiors vary drastically based on where we live. A thatched cottage, for example, is beautiful in the English countryside, but wouldn’t fare well in Tornado Alley. The same goes for a Spanish villa built in Greenland. 

With this in mind, we travelled around the world (virtually) to understand what interior and furniture designs typically look like in the US, France, India, Japan, the Mediterranean and Tuscany. 

Put down your passport and boil the kettle.


American

 

The American style initially adopted the English classic look of versatility, symmetry, simplicity and geometric patterns, but has since gone on to evolve into a style which reflects a more neutral, cozy environment. In more recent years, the American home has become open, removing the use of unnecessary partitions, and creating a multifaceted space; a place where you can watch TV, cook dinner, eat breakfast or entertain in the evening.

The American style often uses natural colours like beige, terracottas, creams, blues and shades of green or brown. Ornaments, wall art and wallpaper are sometimes used to create a bold statement. Wood is also a common feature used to expose the ceiling, floors and create visual room dividers.

The US is vast and interior styles vary, so for a more detailed review head to Small Design Ideas or Pufik Homes.

 

French 

 

French interiors are comparable to French fashion; effortless and ever-so chic. Yet it’s infamously difficult to replicate. French homes are as grand as their history, littered with European antiques, chandeliers, ridiculously lux hanging drapes and eye-watering architecture. 

Natural, not-staged and lived in are crucial elements when it comes to French design. Trying too hard is a huge faux-pas in French society and the same can be said for their homes. Interiors should be simple with a mixture of old and new - modernist furniture thrown in with aged classics. Recycled items aren’t to be looked down upon either, shopping for the perfect piece in secondhand shops is widely practised. Anything to add a dash of character and sense of mix-match to the home.   

French style often uses all white colour schemes or, at the very least, a subdued palette. However, bold and bright colours or interesting patterns and textures are used throughout to bring the room together. 

The French style also doesn’t pay close attention to trends. Trends come and go, but the home and its fundamentals don’t. 

Lost? Here’s some examples from Elle Decor and One Kings Lane.

 

Indian

 

Due to India’s history, most Indian furniture has had a hybrid of influences resulting in an ‘Indo-European’ category, which draws most of its influence from the Portuguese, Dutch and English.    

Indian furniture designs reflect the culture; vibrant, artistic and elaborate. They use a mix of bright colours, elegant yet bold textiles and patterns, and timeless handcrafted furniture items that create a distinct look and feel in the home. 

Tables, chairs, desks and cabinets amongst others are often made using dark hardwoods like ebony and teak. Depending on where the furniture is from, it’ll be infused with ivory or bone and carved with decorative flourishes, floral or Hindu patterns. India also has unique furniture making techniques which are only practiced in the country. Kashmiri wood carving uses walnut wood from the Kashmir region and involves deep carving patterns. Jaali designs are used for doors and windows - Jaali in Hindi translates to ‘net’ so is used for privacy. Shekhawati Jodhpur style is most famous for its elaborate and elegant carvings made from rosewood, sheesham, mango etc. These designs are used for a more traditional Indian setting. 

There are a multitude of elements involved in Indian furniture design (we could write an entire blog about it), but for now here’s a collection of Indian and nomadic articles to wet the appetite: Fabmodula Interiors and Livspace.

 

Japanese 


Being “at one” or “zen” or “in the present” is currently on-trend. In recent years, yoga and meditation has increased in popularity ten-fold and in doing so, so has Japanese culture.  As a result, Japanese interior design has also become much sought after, with many transforming their homes into calming, tranquil environments. Alongside this, Eastern-infused designs - with their distinct look -  have also grown in popularity among Western home-owners. 

The Japanese design is often minimal with an incredible focus on functionality, very similar to Scandinavian pieces. They use traditional and natural materials (fine woods, rice, straw, bamboo and paper) to help emulate minimalist modernism and draw on traditional Japanese culture and its simplistic principles. Japanese rooms are usually multi-functional with foldable beds, sliding screens (doors) and low sitting tables - an urbanised population means space is hard to come by and increasingly premium. 

Colours are often natural, but if objects are placed within the room then they will follow a neutral palette; greys, browns, blacks and whites. 

For more Japanese interior inspiration head here or here.

 

Mediterranean


The Med is vast, covering a multitude of countries and cultures; From the French Riviera and the Spanish coastal towns, to the rolling hills and vineyards of Italy, Arabia in Morocco and the Cycladic homes in Greece. But when it comes to interior design, there is a commonality - the Mediterranean style is chilled, romantic and warm. 

Just like Tuscan designs, Mediterranean homes feature exposed beams, arched hallways and textured walls. They use natural materials; treated woods, cotton and iron to help with the rustic charm and bring the outside in. Rooted in history, the style reflects this with elaborate ornaments, tiled walls, staircases and ceilings (textiles are so important and can instantly transform an interior into a Mediterranean dream). The Med is bold, explosive in nature yet beautiful - the furniture is exactly the same, with multiple statement pieces dotted around the home. 

Stoned walls and floors are crucial throughout if you’re going for more of a chic look. Stone can also be used in the kitchen and bathrooms with ornaments and crockery to help add a natural tone to the environment. 

For Mediterranean home decor ideas check out Pufik Homes or Architectural Digest.

 

Scandinavian 

 

The Scandis know exactly what they are doing, especially those Swedes (dare I say the ‘I’ word?). With its clean and contemporary lines, Scandinavian designs have stuck with the public and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. So, what is classic Scandivaian and why are we hooked? Scandinavian design is simple. Simplicity is key. The more echoes you hear in the room, the better. It‘s functional, minimalist and clean, but doesn’t sacrifice on aesthetics. 

Colours used are heavily neutral, mostly whites and tans. The designs are popular due it’s aspirational appeal, the minimalism and functionality means no clutter. 

Check out Hunker’s list of top Scandinavian designers, most notably; Greta Magnusson-Grossman, Børge Mogensen and Arne Jacobsen. 

 

Tuscan


Ever thought about recreating the Tuscan dream, a touch of Italian sun in the heart of the UK? Heaven. Tuscan designs use warm, earthy colours; beige, blues, dark browns and deep reds which mirror the colours found outside. Furniture is often softly natured using oranges, yellows and reds. The designs are heavily influenced with traditional materials; dark, wooden ceiling beams, sandstone, terracotta or wooden floor tiles.  The designs focus on straight lines using ancient materials, iron and marble. Windows are usually left exposed to make the most of the natural light, a drape is used for privacy, but doesn’t impose on the light.

A combination of loved, worn and countryside simplicity. Tuscany designs are rustic, drawing much influence from the outside creating a warm and inviting environment. 

For more Italian sun, check out The Spruce or Of Design.

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If you’re looking for more inspiration then try our latest style blogs: 10 tips on how to make your room feel bigger and 5 tips on how to style your living room.