Thu. May 23rd, 2024

The defining characteristic of today’s design world may well be its incredible diversity: It’s tough to think of another time when so many different looks—warm minimalism, maximalist ebullience, cutting-edge shiny sleekness, Old World classicism, tropical vibrance—could all be in play simultaneously. In and among those competing strands of style, though, the calmer, quieter thread seems to be capturing the hearts of more and more professionals and their clients. Grounded in the “form follows function” directness of 20th-century modernism, influenced by the pared-down sensibilities of figures like John Saladino, Michael Taylor, and Axel Vervoordt, this movement’s partisans lean toward primarily neutral colors and largely organic materials to construct rooms of sophisticated yet unfussy comfort.

Serenity is the goal. “Look, we live in a kind of chaotic world, right?” says Alabama architect and AD PRO Directory member Jeffrey Dungan, who aims to imbue the residences he creates with a sense of clarity and repose. “We need a little peace—and our homes are our respite.” This sentiment is echoed by Calla Cane, whose design practice spans both coasts (California and Connecticut): “I think we are receiving so much stimulation through our phones and computers that most people are looking to come home to a sanctuary.” Particularly following the enforced seclusion of COVID and the growth of remote work, she notes, “We find that there are more and more requests for clean lines, organization, and a spa-like feel.”

Meet the Designer: Jeffrey Dungan Based in Mountain Brook, Alabama, Jeffrey Dungan Architects is a nationally renowned firm with projects spanning throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom. Read more…

With restraint in mind, spaces aren’t be packed with too much stuff. Forms are kept uncomplicated, tones muted, furnishings few—avoiding any visual (or literal) clutter. In these interiors, says Keren Richter of New York’s White Arrow, also listed on the AD PRO Directory: “Color and pattern are no longer the focus, but materiality, scale, proportion, and the hand element are paramount.”

The preferred tonality of neutral-color rooms has varied over time, from yellow-tinged “magnolia blossom” whites in the 1980s to the sea of chilly grays that have inundated social media postings during the past decade. Most recently, however, such subdued-chic interiors have tended to come drenched in something like the hue of a freshly whipped up béchamel sauce. Call the aesthetic “white chocolate minimalism,” perhaps.

So, given that the fashion continues to surge in popularity—and since making simplicity isn’t actually all that simple—we asked an assortment of professionals from across the US to share thoughts on how they achieve their best results.

1. Careful composition is paramount

Warm minimalism is most effective with as few elements as possible, as in this pared-down living room at an Upper West Side townhouse designed by Chango & Co.

Photo: Nicole Franzen

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