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IT'S time again to host your family and friends for Chinese New Year and while it might be tempting to recycle the red lanterns and paper cuttings from last year's stash, why not give your decorating repertoire a spring-clean and start the Year of the Goat on a classy note instead? Incorporate the year's top decorating trends for a contemporary twist to festive flair, or inject auspicious hues into a room through modern conversation starters. Here are suggestions from the experts to spruce up your home with minimal stress.
Pamela Ting, co-founder of modern Asian furniture brand Scene Shang
WE suggest home decorators invest in contemporary pieces with traditional elements that remain relevant long past the New Year, season after season. This idea of making historical and cultural elements relevant to modern homes inspires me as a designer, to create products such as our award-winning Shang System. A hand-carved, stackable set of drawers inspired by Ming Dynasty furniture, the system's interchangeable drawers come in both vibrant red and yellow for New Year and neutral shades such as grey and white for non-festive occasions.
Furniture made with sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as bamboo are an up-and-coming trend. Bamboo is also considered a lucky plant for Chinese New Year and our bamboo ladder shelf is an example of a trendy yet sustainable addition to homes. While gold represents wealth, it can come across as overly ostentatious. A more understated trend this year is copper and brass, and other metal hardware details.
I believe strongly in the harmony of things in a space. Try not to overdo your home with garish decorations for Chinese New Year. Just a hint of red, gold or orange used can make a home look classy while symbolising prosperity, joy and peace.
Mo Shaohong, visual merchandiser of homegrown decor and gifts brand Risis
TO herald in the New Year, introduce elegant interpretations of traditional icons such as zodiac animals or auspicious symbols such as carps. This year, gold and metallics are making a bold comeback in design.
The trick is to avoid going over-the-top and creating a space for high-impact pieces, such as a backdrop for a gold-plated sculpture inspired by the zodiac goat. You can anchor a corner with a large painting or mirror and place the statement-making sculpture before it as a design feature. Add a minimalist floral arrangement for a more whimsical effect.
Consider as part of your plan an unexpected place for your sculpture. By doing so, you will allow the sculpture to become a purposeful focal point and less of an afterthought. The placement of each sculpture also plays a role in feng shui.
Last year's horse sculptures need not be relegated to the storeroom, for example. Placing a horse sculpture in the northeast brings prominence to students in the household. Moreover, it continues to be a popular design motif for 2015. There is also a Chinese New Year greeting san yang kai tai, which sounds like "three goats bringing in fortune". Try including a goat sculpture in your home to dispel negativity and enhance positive elements in your life.
For greater design consistency, introduce touches of gold subtly throughout the space. Try gold-trimmed tableware including sleek gold chopstick rests, which are perfect for adding the opulent element into your decor without being too flashy or dated. Stick to neutral, minimalist furniture for the rest of the room to look thoroughly modern.
Bella Koh, food stylist and founder of lifestyle store Flea & Trees Slowhouse
IT'S important to serve traditional Chinese dishes when hosting friends and family during the festive season. Opt for rustic and simple plating to allow the dish to stand out, as the food should be the core focus of the meal. For example, consider using white Le Creuset pots to showcase your Chinese New Year dishes to create a new take on festive dining. Do also channel a subtle chinoiserie flair with blue-and-white porcelain tableware with silverware accents.
Instead of serving slices of Mandarin oranges on a regular platter, try arranging them nicely on a rustic wood or glass cake stand to play up the Chinese New Year spirit. This doubles as a centrepiece as well with minimal effort. Another easy way to decorate without resorting to chintzy, predictable pieces is to punctuate the space with beautiful bamboo, bonsai or rosary bean plants to set the mood. Think classy!
Some of the trendiest materials of the year for home decor are silver, linen and walnut or oak wood. In other words, it's back to basics.
Consider the use of silverware to display Chinese New Year goodies instead of fussy lacquered containers, incorporating linen as a tablecloth or curtains, and the use of wood through plants or furniture. Then, just feast, drink, be merry and enjoy great conversations with loved ones! That's the tradition and everyone should be comfortable.
Terence Choo, marketing executive for contemporary designer furniture specialist Dream
START by curating the festive decor elements - choose a theme or two, such as a colour that represents the festive season. Always remember to keep it simple and not over-clutter your space. Sometimes one iconic decor piece is enough to be a conversation piece during gatherings.
A fine example is Hive's Geisha Lantern in red, which is a perfect light fixture to adorn your living space for the Lunar New Year. Its traditional basket weave design in a modern silhouette offers a contemporary yet Asian element for the home.
Adding a bright red revolving cabinet in your space also lends a traditional touch of festive red, yet the design is completely modern with its clean lines. And when adding a powerful shot of red to your living space, remember to keep to clean and modern elements for the look to be on trend. A key trend now is "geometric". Highlight distinctive angular silhouettes by surrounding this key piece with minimalist designs. For instance, I would recommend placing an iconic Cassina Zig-Zag chair in red against an industrial grey backdrop. Another example could be adding Knoll's Bertoia Diamond Chair in red to the space, to bring in a touch of industrial modernity while adding to the festive ambience.
Finally, don't overdo it! As much as it is fun creating the festive mood in your space, you will still need to live in it. Overdecorating can hinder the usage of your space and the last thing you want is to ruin your well-styled home and having to work it back into shape after Chinese New Year.
Andrew Tan, owner of Japanese lifestyle boutique Atomi
IT'S a common practice by my wife, Mitsuko, to incorporate new elements to match the seasonal change. Be it traditional or contemporary, one can add these elements through several ways. One of our favourite ways is through artworks or displays. We have several pieces which we bought during our travels and each piece reflects a certain moment or season or theme. For example, during spring, we love to display our Sakura-related art pieces.
Another great way to incorporate festive elements are through vases and flowers. We love to decorate the tabletop and tableware to reflect the mood. Likewise, adding coasters and placemats which showcase the traditional style.
Personalised and bespoke pieces are also trending as they reflect individuality and personality. At Atomi, we have a wide range of fabrics, leathers and other materials such as wooden tops to be paired with our modular sofa. One can change the cushion covers to match the colour theme of the season.
For example, during Chinese New Year, we can change the cushion covers to incorporate more auspicious colours such as orange and red. Different hues of each colour are available, in both fabric and leather, to ensure they're not too tacky or loud.
Likewise, the ability to interchange the seats or sofa covers are the trends observed in 2015. We do have customers who, after consulting feng shui masters, want to incorporate the lucky colours of the year into their furniture, and we can do so by offering interchangeable cushion seats for the dining chairs.
Some key things to take note of are to add the option of flexibility into the designs. Avoid building fixtures or buying furniture that are the latest fads which are not reversible in the future. For example, having a feature wall and false ceilings can be nice but once the design is outdated or parts of it are spoiled, it will take a lot of effort to replace them or take those out totally. Likewise, putting up wallpaper that is suitable for one season may throw the whole house off-kilter for the rest of the year.