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Design Chicago Panel Focuses on Interior Design Trends

Furniture, Lighting & Decor kicked off its fall panels with a discussion on all things trends at Surya's showroom at Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

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Surya panel
Left to right: Terry Sullivan of Willow Tree Design, Grace Sielaff of M. Grace Interior Design, Katie Wozniak of Katherine Elizabeth Designs and Debbie Auer of Auer Design

At Surya’s showroom at Design Chicago last week, Furniture, Lighting & Decor Editor-in-Chief Diane Falvey moderated an engaging panel discussion focused on a key facet of interior design work: trends

Katie Wozniak of Katherine Elizabeth Designs, Debbie Auer of Auer Design, Terry Sullivan of Willow Tree Design and Grace Sielaff of M. Grace Interior Design shared their insights on the trends they’re seeing at markets, what they see as the drivers of trends and how they communicate those trends with design clients. 

When asked what rising design elements they’re seeing this year, Auer noted trends including black kitchens, velvet and natural materials and woods. Wozniak said she’s loving ceiling detail work along with layering of vibrant patterns and colors. Sielaff is also seeing layering of neutrals with bold pops of color, and Sullivan noted the resurgence of green. 

While the panelists noted that they get trend inspiration from sources like markets, Pinterest, magazines and fashion, they also find that inspiration by just getting out and about.

“Be aware of what is out there wherever you go,” Auer said. “It could be a museum, it could be anywhere.”

Sullivan said while it's good to do your research and stay current and on top of trends, it’s important to not just duplicate design trends for the sake of it.

“Be aware, do your homework, see what’s out there, but also don’t just follow through with all the trends,” Sullivan said. “Take elements of that, make it your own or the client’s own, and do something that is going to reflect their taste.”

Since she often works in the lakes market designing second homes around Lake Geneva, WI, Wozniak sees trends driven from a practicality standpoint. She’s seen performance fabrics take off for those who want a functional solution for their lifestyle, and she’s been approached by fabric manufacturers that are asking what kinds of designs and colors clients want on these performance fabrics.

At the end of the day, Wozniak said she lets the client lead in terms of what their home is going to look like, rather than focusing on implementing specific trends. 

“It’s all about what the client is looking for, what their loves are, what they dislike and how they function in their lifestyle,” she said.

Sielaff agreed, and said she works around the client’s needs and desires — even if they’re not her personal favorite — to create a beautiful environment for them to live in. Whether it's on-trend or not, the client's happiness with their space is ultimately the most important thing.

For those who didn’t make it to Design Chicago, Furniture, Lighting & Decor will be hosting another panel on all things trends next week at High Point Market at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 in the Surya showroom. This panel is one of seven the magazine team will be moderating at High Point on topics ranging from branding to outdoor performance solutions. For more details and to RSVP to reserve a spot, check out our full market panel list

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