So, What's Next?

December 6, 2021

We take a look at the fresh inspiration brightening the style horizon.

This year really has been the bridge between the now and the next. Crossing the bridge has taken courage, compassion and a great deal of sacrifice. But no doubt it is preparing us for greater agility, greater acceptance, greater humanness. It has taught us to slow down a little. To focus on the needs of others. To normalise self-care and rest. To live more sustainably. To be OK with putting our hands up for help.

“Going inside when we couldn’t go outside” has upped the world’s EQ. Our needs, desires and challenges have birthed many wonderful new trends. WFH, along with the Hybrid Home, arose out of necessity, and many of us are relishing our high-functioning homes (complete with fully fitted outdoor kitchens and outdoor tech), and can’t imagine returning to the office full time. Then, there’s The Home Sanctuary with its spa-like spaces, another beautiful positive that grew out of the hard reality of lockdown and social distancing.

Next AI. On the tech front, we have read about the rise of Affective Systems to work in tandem with traditional Effective Systems. Believe it or not, AI is enabling humanity to thrive by taking on new and exciting activities that are caring, compassionate and empathetic. New-age algorithms will read your facial expressions and emotional state to offer a more emotive, delightful and personal experience. Just imagine!

Next Trends. So while we watch with interest and curiosity as the world shapeshifts into 2022 and reacts and responds to what comes next, our main focus is on the delicious stuff that really floats our boat. And jeepers, our peepers are seeing so many marvellous trends. Some are completely fresh and new; some we have seen already that have flourished and grown into lasting megatrends; while others – that we met once a while ago - have cycled back in a fresh form.

Trends have an infuriating habit of overlapping each other rather than behaving themselves and appearing in single file. They’re often bunched together like a bouquet of wild flowers. So saddle up and ride with us as we hit the trend trail: we’ll examine What’s Next and translate it all into Italstyle.


Japandi. It was inevitable, really, that the simplicity, natural warmth and functionality of contemporary Scandinavian style should make friends with the rustic minimalism of modern Japanese interiors. This gentle, natural and pared-down hybrid features organic materials, simple, unfussy lines and angles, neutral, muted tones, natural light, and organic textures. Nature plays a central role, and strong-grained, raw wood looks sit at the heart of Japandi. Italtile’s Exence range of eco-chic Italian wood-look tiles suit the Japandi trend to a “T”, with its remastering of raw, unstained oak timber. Available in honeyed Amber and Almond.

Dark Drama. Into sultry tones, deep colourways and sensory textures? This trend was born for you. It’s sophisticated, chic, non-feminine and non-fussy. It’s a little bit muscular and it’s certainly got our hearts racing with dark stone floors, precious gemstone and geode hues, matt black, charcoals and deeply mysterious marbles. If this intensely sexy trend lights a fire in your soul, take a look at our ultra-dramatic Volga Blue marbled tile, with its exciting flashes of deep jewelled blue. Unapologetic luxury.

Mixed Finishes. This trend invites you to be a great deal more adventurous with your final touches. It’s a move away from the same-same homogenous omni-colour, e.g. an all stainless steel or an all brass detailing. Mixed metals are going to be killing it. Brushed brass, antiqued bronze and rose gold give a vibrant shimmer when mixed, and if you’re a talented decorator, you’ll combine them with cool metals like nickel, chrome and pewter. Let’s not forget black, whether matt or gloss; one of the trendiest finishes on the market today, which mixes beautifully with all metals.

If this mixed metal alchemy makes you nervous (and let’s face it, serious magic can bring one out in a mild sweat!) here’s Mixed Finishes 101. Assess your colour palette. Combine warm metal finishes (brass, bronze, rose gold) with warm hues (beiges, tans, browns). Use cool metal finishes (chrome, silver etc) with cool tones (blues, greens, greys). But to achieve the ultimate mastery of mixed cool and warm finishes... always be guided by a professional. See our Mixed Finishes LookBook online.

Terrazzo. OK, so Terrazzo isn’t a new look. In fact, it’s been around for thousands of years. It was the “it” material of 2019. But it’s growing into a very big tile option, with fresh new sparkling form. With even bigger and more exciting flakes, flecks, speckles and stipples than ever before. Have a look at our gaspworthy NewDeco.

Magic Moroccan. Welcome to North Africa’s most fascinating looks. This trend curates the most mesmerising geometric themes, vibrant patterns and colours and all the exotic flair and dazzling diversity of a Marrakech market. There’s a beautiful sense of centuries-old artisanship, with handcrafted and decorative art, and masses of visual intrigue. Many of our divinely patterned patchworks reimagine the look and feel of highly desirable Moroccan patterned Zellige tiles. Have a look at our Magic Moroccan LookBook online.

Wabi-Sabi. This is all about understanding and accepting that perfection will not be achieved in this lifetime. That life is imperfect. Perfectly imperfect. And that we all need to relax in our slacks. Chill. The Japanese pursuit of Wabi-Sabi was developed centuries ago, as a reaction to the over-embellished and heavily ornamented lavish lifestyles of the time.

Wabi-Sabi design is a movement that encourages us to ground ourselves by forming a deep connection to the earth and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Perhaps it’s more of a philosophy than a trend, but it’s certainly an aesthetic whose time has come. Accepting things as they are, rather than wishing for something better. Authentic looks, hand-dyed cloth, hand-carved wood, handwoven materials, natural textures, beautifully wonky one-off ceramics. Rough edges; raw, unstained wood; “artfully mussed” linen duvet covers.

The Japanese art of burning cedar timber and then sealing it with oil to highlight the strong wood grain and the burn lines, is a Wabi-Sabi practice. You may also have heard of Japanese Kintsugi – the mindful process of using gold to fill the cracks of a broken pottery container. Kintsugi celebrates the imperfections, rather than hiding them.

We’ve curated a Wabi-Sabi LookBook online.

GrandMillenial. We owe the youth of today a round of applause. Thanks to them, we are a great deal more mindful of civil rights, gender equality, racial discrimination, education, the climate crisis, healthcare and employment equity. They are very active in sustainability forums and seek to heal the earth they inherited. They are digitally fearless, and they continue to teach us the power of collaboration and co-working, of the need to rest, and the importance of work/life integration.

The GrandMillenial trend is a rebellion against the sleek, somewhat smug and self-conscious minimalism of mid-century modern design, and it is an Ode to Old School Cool. You won’t find mass-produced objects here. It’s a rich and tremendously eclectic aesthetic with a heavy sustainable bias. These are folk who hunt for style in thrift stores, charity shops, antique markets. Because of them, the second hand clothing market is huge worldwide. Here you’ll find blue and white china with a twist. Wicker chairs. Wooden palette bed bases. Vintage denim jackets with added embellishments. All repurposed and remodelled. A sense of heritage classics with a cool contemporary feel. Take a look at our GrandMillenial LookBook.

There are, of course, a host of other fab trends out there; we’ve selected the ones we think are best suited to our South African lifestyles and appetites. Before we sign off and leave you to the planning of your festivities, one more ‘next’: The Fifth Wall.

Not so much a design trend as an architectural consideration. It’s the ceiling. So often completely dismissed - “oh we’ll just paint it white”. Remember, the ceiling is another bracket to your living space, so why not give it a fabulously unexpected finish. (After all, look what Michelangelo achieved with the Sistine Chapel ceiling!) We suggest wood looks. Our new age Moda Vinile wood-look vinyl, for example, will create a wonderfully rich and grainy ‘canopy’ to your living spaces.

Beloved Italstylistas, no matter what comes next, you got this. You’ve weathered two years of the Coronacoaster. We wish you and yours a restful end to a restless year... and a transition into 2022 full of grace, peace, as much joy as your heart can hold, and good health. We are grateful for your support throughout this year. And we give thanks for you all... without you, there is no us.


May your next be next level. And may you live 2022 beautifully, in true Italstyle.