The Year of Sustainable Wellness  


Interior architecture and design is a constantly evolving field, shaped by changing tastes, advances in technology, popular culture, and shifts in social and economic conditions. As we look ahead to 2023, several trends and forecasts are beginning to emerge that are likely to shape the way we think about interior spaces. Seeking to make sense of the constant flux of decorative aesthetics while pinpointing the unknown, join leading interior architect Anlo Neethling as he takes a closer look at the key trends shaping design in 2023.  

La Petite Colombe by MR. Design Studio in Franschhoek, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Andrea van der Spuy

Focus on wellness  

In recent years, wellness has become a hot topic in design (especially after the pandemic), creating a space for us to slow down, reflect, and function at our utmost. Unsurprisingly, the chaos and uncertainty of the stressful lockdown years prompted many to find refuge in calming textures, which became increasingly popular in residences the globe over. People want their home to feel like a tranquil haven, a sanctuary, particularly in the bedroom and living room — both designated for relaxing and filled with plush, soft furnishings. And why not? We’re all in need of some nurturing this year!  

In application, this trend translates to plenty of warm neutrals. Warm hues like clay, terracotta, stone, sunlit yellow, and rust will likely dominate, which means lovers of gold accents, honeyed wood tones, and cream sofas will rejoice. We may see the return of minimalism in wellness-focussed interiors, but in a more sophisticated and homelier manner than we’ve seen previously. Warm wood tones and natural textures will become a feature of themselves, without compromising the simplicity and cleanliness of minimalist styles. There also seems to be a growing sculptural design trend in interior design, with a return to the soft curve and using more organic materials.  

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Colour of the year 

Viva Magenta, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2023, can be woven into a variety of palettes — whether it’s the primary bright colour in a sea of muted hues or a fitting addition to a jewel toned collection of colours. You can incorporate this crimson red using patterned wallpaper and throw pillows, a striking feature wall, or even a bold furniture piece.  

That’s so 70s 

The 70s are back!  Interior design trends, just like fashion, are proving to be cyclical, and the 1970s is projected to be a key influence in 2023 interior design. You can tap into this aesthetic by using warm brown, gold, and red tones such as clay, honey, or paprika as the base for your interior and layer with fun colours and shapes to add interest. 

Soft shapes and relaxed-style seating designs not only tap into the 1970s aesthetic but are comfortable and have a cocooning effect, creating a happy and enjoyable interior with soft edges and dramatic accents. Try selecting sofas with deeper seats and plumped-up cushions for a real ‘sink-in’ experience. 

winter hallway which also includes a painting and other decorative items
Dolmen-inspired ARDARA Console Table with a Sahara Noir Faux Marble Finish by Cafe Latte

Curves are here to stay  

Over the past years, rounded and curved shapes have increasingly found their way into interior design, from crescent-shaped sofas and egg and tulip chairs to circular rugs. This year we’ll see a parallel pivot within this trend as designers shift towards more oblong and angled curves. Say hello to ovaloid mirrors and mushroom-shaped lighting fixtures, as well as much more rounded cabinets, credenzas, and nightstands. 

Arches and alcoves 

Rounded door frames, thresholds, and ceilings are going to be big in 2023. The use of alcoves and niches in architecture has been popular since the Renaissance period as a way to display artwork, particularly sculptures. Today, these distinct architectural elements are experiencing a resurgence in popularity thanks to their versatility. Not only do they provide a space for showcasing decorative items, but they can also serve a functional purpose by saving space, adding visual interest, or creating a peaceful retreat. Regardless of their size, alcoves and niches are an effective way to accentuate the décor and furnishings within a room. 

‘SIX ON n’ by ONE Design + Development and BLOK Living, Seapoint, Cape Town, South Africa

Perfectly imperfect 

2023 is leaning towards items that are organic, handmade, and locally sourced. This shift towards authenticity and individualism in design aesthetics will result in more one-of-a-kind and distinctive pieces. The future of decor is characterised by a fusion of raw natural elements and refined design, creating a unique aesthetic that showcases expert craftsmanship and an artistic vision. Such pieces are sure to be highly desirable and trendy.   

Sustainable selections 

Sustainability, ethics, and recyclability are becoming increasingly important in all areas of life, and this is reflected in the home décor trends of 2023. As more and more people become aware of the impact of their choices on the planet, there is a growing emphasis on environmentally-friendly practices in both home and business settings. As a result, we can expect to see a greater use of green materials and organic surfaces in interior design, both in residential and commercial settings. Furthermore, with continued education, we can anticipate conscious choices of materials, the repurposing of furniture, and a reduction of plastics and waste. 

Plank Hardware ARMSTONG Kitchen Tap Antique Brass.JPG
ARMSTRONG Kitchen Tap in Antique Brass by Plank Hardware

Colourful kitchens  

I think people are finally embracing colour and will choose to redesign their kitchens in a wash of exciting hues. The use of soft yet bold tones will be used in kitchens, with palettes inspired by 70s: think soft greens, blues, and soft, warm yellows.  

Personality-driven design  

Many of my clients are shifting away from neutral, Pinterest-perfect rooms and opting instead for cosier spaces that feature personal collections, layered textiles, heirlooms, unique art, and a mix of old and new furnishings. We have seen so much minimalism over the last few years; our clients are now craving warmth, depth, and character in their personal spaces. Conjuring a sense of nostalgia, expect pastoral patterns, restored antiques, and bucolic artwork in homes resembling the Granny-chic country farmhouse aesthetic. Cue the everyday curator! 


Anlo Neethling 

Interior Architect and Director 

ONE Design + Development


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