It’s interesting to see how décor choices have started being impacted by the pandemic. In response to Covid-19, some consumers have found themselves newly drawn to tradition. Within this segment, the pull of classic elements that speak to timeless truths has been particularly obvious. Often subliminally, they point out how humans have survived through the ages. Interesting twists, like streamlined forms and new materials, make these time-tested designs feel so 21st century (you can read about our take on this trend here).
Other consumers have gone for minimalist silhouettes. Contemporary looks with simple lines, sophisticated visual textures and perhaps most importantly, smooth and easy-to-keep-clean surfaces have seen a surge of interest. References to Scandinavian simplicity and, even newer, Japanese simplicity abound.
Still another group has opted for whimsy as a way to lighten the mood. At a time when one third of Americas are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression because of Coronavirus, whimsy is just what the doctor ordered for a growing segment of the population.
But don’t confuse the whimsy of 2020 with the whimsy of the past. It has a much-different character.
The last big run for whimsical décor came during the 1980s. The ribbon goose was the hallmark of this era. Cows came next, but they never achieved the same sales volume.
Some could argue that llamas, which have gathered a significant following over the past couple of years, have been embraced at least as much as the ribbon goose. After all, llamas have even made their way into Holiday décor and trim. While this may be true, llamas still cannot match the importance of the goose. That’s because the goose was emblematic of an entire decorating style. It set the tone for country decorating in that decade. By contrast, the llama has been used largely as a stand-alone icon. Yes, it fits with a Bohemian point of view. However, it has never been its dominant force.
As pandemic-driven whimsy develops, it is differentiated from other whimsical surges in a few key ways. To begin with, there is no prevailing subject. It is not focused on only lips, artistic faces or a single eye, though all these approaches are building. It’s not all about a monkey or a gnome, though both can be found. It doesn’t just follow punk looks, though the colors and icons of that era are definitely incoming. Instead, various patterns and motifs are bound together by one simple trait: they are always uplifting.
When it comes to shape, figures can be unexpected. Still, they are immensely usable, which is part of their charm. While colors may tend toward bright or intense personalities, they are typically quite easy to blend into other palettes.
At the same time, the tone of these products is more sophisticated than in the past. That’s because they are not just surprising, they are interesting and compelling. Often, the quality is elevated, as well. That means upscale materials, intricate piecing and unique textures. This updated version of whimsy is made for a discerning consumer. That doesn’t mean there isn’t inexpensive product out there. It only points out that consumers with resources are not only embracing this style, but are also shifting the tone from fanciful to something more eccentric.
Finally, the new take on whimsy promotes it within the hierarchy of décor. In the past, whimsical product has been relatively inconspicuous. It was placed somewhere in the room, where it waited to be noticed. While whimsy remains an accent today, its status has changed from background player to statement-maker. Whimsy is moving up front.
Here is a look at today’s sophisticated approach to whimsy: