We are embracing darkness and calmness

Black and other dark shades are here to stay, and while they used to be reserved for small furnishing accessories such as cushions, throws and pots, dark floors and black ceilings are now gaining in popularity.

There’s no mistaking the effect. The dark shades create a very special atmosphere in all manner of buildings, from hotels and restaurants to private homes.

Only a few years back, lifestyle magazines and social media in Scandinavia were overflowing with interior images of chalk-white walls and pale furniture. Since then, heavier materials like velvet and brass have made an entrée, while dark colours have found their way into the architecture. There is a clear reason for this, explains Danish trend researcher Rikke Skytte, a freelance speaker and spatial designer with her own business as well as a consultant and speaker with pej gruppen, a Scandinavian trend institute.

“During and in the aftermath of the financial crisis, we went for bright, light and Nordic materials such as wood, leather and paper. Now that the crisis is well and truly behind us, we are beginning to look to warmer climes for inspiration, and we’ve started to use dark, burned colours indoors such as black, dark red-brown and dusty grey,” she explains.

Starting small

‘Small but good’ has for years been a widespread mantra when a new trend starts taking root in Nordic architecture. As was to be expected, the ‘dark trend’ first appeared primarily in the small interior details such as cushions, throws and pots. However, with time, black and other dark colours have gained a foothold in new areas.

“Today, one of the biggest trends in private homes is having at least one wall decorated using a dark colour, while we see a growing tendency for people to also use large, dark elements such as black or dark grey kitchens and black or deep green ceilings and floors. This produces a very special atmosphere of hygge and intimacy,” says Rikke Skytte.

Keeping calm

However, it’s not just in private homes that dark colours are appearing. The trend is also being echoed in, for example, the hotel and restaurant industry, and for a very special reason:

“Black and dark shades are not just conducive to creating a calm and tranquil atmosphere. When stepping into a room with dark materials, we automatically lower our voices, and this is a good thing, especially in the restaurant business, where many restaurants struggle with serious sound and acoustics problems,” says Rikke Skytte, adding:

“The hotel industry has also jumped on the bandwagon, one of the best examples being Hotel At Six in Stockholm. Here, it is quite clear how the dark rooms and heavy materials such as marble and brass create a unique sense of intimacy and closeness.”

Read our online theme about acoustics in restaurants  >

Not just a flash in the pan

In asking the trend researcher Rikke Skytte to look in a crystal ball, her response is clear: dark materials are here to stay.

“When people start investing in dark sofas, ceilings and kitchens, elements which are seldom replaced, then it’s a clear sign that the trend has taken hold.”

“In large buildings, there are several ways of incorporating dark colours into the architecture. You can think about your choice of materials, and for example have a black ceiling or a dark floating concrete structure on the floor, supplemented by stone materials and tone-in-tone colours. Another approach is to play around with dark features, such as arched doorways and pillars. No matter what, you need to remember that dark materials work best in large rooms,” says Rikke Skytte.

Rikke Skytte,
Trend researcher, freelance speaker and spatial designer with her own business as well as consultant and speaker with pej gruppen - Scandinavian trend institute.