Trendspotting The initial apprehension between crossing the lines of clothing and furniture fashions has faded.
Fashionable interiors and the power of branding
The relationship between fashion and interiors has long been a close one, with each industry drawing inspiration from the other. However, it is rare for an interior product designer to venture into the realms of fashion. The same cannot be said of fashion brands, which now commonly extend their ranges to include furniture, lighting and tabletop collections. Fendi, Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier and even Christian Lacroix have all recognised the profit potential of putting their logo on more than just dresses.
The furniture industry in particular was initially apprehensive about fashion brands entering their arena. As the editor of the trade publication Furniture News, Paul Farley, explains: "The fashion industry is renowned for its power and the sway it holds over consumers, so the decision of several high level players to enter the furniture field signalled a new threat at a time of market difficulty."
But Farley adds that it was recognised that "the ability of this industry to respond to, and dictate trends and tastes is undisputable, so they were definitely regarded as something to watch and learn from".
In the world of fashion the brand is everything. When we buy a designer handbag, dress or sunglasses we buy into the brand's image. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are hoping to score social status points via our association with the perceived values of the label we are wearing. Purchasing a designer fashion item is never purely about the design of the item itself - it is about the label, what that label represents and what wearing that label says about us.
So can a fashion brand's values be successfully translated into a product for the interior? "Definitely," says Farley. "Any brand can be communicated in a new guise if handled correctly, and there's a definite crossover between the aesthetic and lifestyle values inherent in fashion marketing and the aspirational side of a homewares purchase."
Certainly the option to buy a whole lifestyle look will appeal to people who love a certain brand's style. And it could be argued by fashion designers that diversifying into other product areas allows people to enjoy their work in more ways than just wearing it. The question remains, however, do we really want more of the same branding and style messages edging into more areas of our increasingly homogenised lives?
Ultimately, I prefer my furniture to be designed by actual furniture designers, yes, sometimes inspired by fashion, but with a genuine passion and dedication to the product not profits. Because this allows me to make my purchasing decision based on the design and not on the designer label.
Aiveen Daly's work fits with this ethos perfectly. Her furniture designs are inspired by vintage couture gowns, and celebrate the tailoring techniques of dressmaking. The result is a range of furniture dressed elegantly in high fashion upholstery. I literally covet her fantastically glamorous Stiletto Collection. Her Love Knot chair, with pleated and knotted detail, and her Garbo chair, with its stylish sash cinched with an art deco style buckle, both dazzle in sleek satin with super skinny, glossy black legs.
Victoria Redshaw is the managing director of Scarlet Opus. For more information see www.trendsblog.co.uk and www.scarletopus.co.uk To choose from a collection of made-to-order chairs, beds, cushions, mirrors and lampshades from Aiveen Daly visit: www.aiveendaly.com