Mirrors and curvy mushrooms: How are Generation Z decorating their first homes? | Interior designs
IIn the mid-2010s, the dawn of interior design boards on Pinterest and the rise of cheap homewares online contributed to the beginnings of the millennial aesthetic. Familiar to anyone who’s scrolled through Airbnb listings, the look included plenty of string lights, printed flower pots, exposed wood, logo art, and soft millennial pink.
But that was 10 years ago. Now, Generation Z consists of the nation’s youngest renters and homeowners, left to design their first apartments. They have their own interior inspiration: pastel wall art, curvy mirrors, LED lights and mushroom decor all feature a distinct aesthetic.
Social media has accelerated the interior design revolution, says Veronique Hyland, the fashion director at Elle magazine who coined the term “millennial pink.”
“The life cycle of a trend is definitely much shorter now because of TikTok, and it’s almost as long as a mayfly,” Hyland said. “We used to have a season or two to keep up with the trend, now various ‘cores’ come and go and visually things seem faster when we see them everywhere.”
Here are the current staples of the Gen Z aesthetic:
Italian architect Ettore Sottsass created the billowing, wavy Ultrafragola mirror in 1970, but the piece really grew into popularity in the 2020s. You can find them in the homes (and personal photos) of people like Bella Hadid, Lena Dunham, and Frank Ocean. Vintage versions of the real thing could cost up to $25,000 on sites like 1st Dibbs, so scams were inevitable, and diversions abound on Etsy, Amazon and Anthropologie.
For Reeves Connelly, a content creator and architecture student who recently posted a popular video on TikTok comparing millennial decor trends to Generation Z’s favorite decorations, there’s no piece of furniture more “Gen Z-coded” than a curvy mirror. Enjoy it while it’s still hot on TikTok.
A cousin of the wavy mirror, Areaware’s stacking planters have a similar wavy shape. On TikTok, Connelly compared the piece to Mason jars, an often-mocked staple of millennial beverage consumption.
Remember when young people were obsessed with pineapples, plastering pictures of the tropical fruit on everything from their tote bags to their pillows? Now, everything mushroom-shaped has its day, with fungi found on lampshades, candles and carpets. You could fill an entire street with more than 9,000 results for “mushroom decor” available at Target, which include figurines, Christmas ornaments and prayer flags.
Blame it on the legal drug or the interest in the cortage core, which sanctifies rural life. “Weirdcore,” or the internet aesthetic of things that look awkward, disorienting, or intentionally ugly, is also a Gen Z phenomenon — and what’s weirder than a mushroom trip?
Inspired by the West
You may remember (or want to forget) an early 2010s custom of mustache prints hanging in every café or office room; Connelly now believes you’re more likely to see a cowboy boot or cactus design. Ditto cow print, a fashion trend that has moved into our homes as well.
“The checkerboard pattern is here to stay,” lauded a 2021 Architectural Digest headline, noting its appearance in bedding, bath towels, and floor tiles. It’s soothing, hypnotic and a bit childish, which earns it nostalgia points. Harper’s Bazaar magazine called the checkerboard “the new millennial pink,” another trend meant to pamper its namesake’s needy generation.
But its days may be numbered as TikTok has already found this trend everywhere. “At first, I loved the accent of the little squares to add movement or interest, but now they seem overdone and tacky,” said Kate Fuller, a creator known on TikTok as @interiordesignbestie. “It started out as something new and fun that could be considered art, and now everyone is making everything on a checkerboard.”
TikTok creators note that the checkerboard print may be the new chevron pattern, which was all over sundresses and manicures in the Girls era but is quickly becoming outdated. “Like Chevron, we will all hate the chessboard by the end of 2023,” Fuller predicted.
Some have predicted that canary yellow — also called “luminous,” and listed as one of Pantone’s Colors of the Year for 2021 — unites the younger generation.
Hyland isn’t so sure. She previously told The Guardian that the so-called Gen Z color yellow “sounds like a manufactured marketing thing to me… I think there’s a push to make different Gen Z colors happen, but it hasn’t reached the same kind of ubiquity.”
Fuller notes that pastels are very popular in Gen Z home spaces. “They’re very drawn to this weird fix of pastel colors,” she said. “From painting the walls to the furniture, they really love a good pastel moment.” Pastel colors have taken over fashion as well. This year’s high fashion runways were like Easter brunch, with the likes of Valentino and Giorgio Armani decorating their collections in pastel colours.
LED light strips
When it comes to lighting, millennial “fairy lights” have paved the way for the LED strips that line the borders of bedroom ceilings across the United States. These strips trace the edges of a piece of furniture—let’s say a headboard or bookshelf—making it look like another soft light is filtering in from below. Videos with the hashtag #ledlights have been viewed more than 11 billion times on TikTok, with tutorials on how to place the strips garnering 30.5 million views.
Keep in mind that the appearance will soon become fuller. “It’s very popular on TikTok, but it’s like your bedroom is a club,” Connelly said.