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Museum at Eldridge Street in New York City
Museum at Eldridge Street in New York City | © Peter Aaron Otto
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A Look Back at the Best of Home and Design in 2017

Picture of Amber C. Snider
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 14 November 2017

2017 has been a whirlwind of a year—one that has forced us all, on a global scale, to re-examine the way we look at the world.       

The ultimate role of the designer is to enhance human life through creativity and technology; to create objects and infrastructures for contemporary living and constantly push the limits of possibility. 

This year, we’ve seen a rise in sustainable design, eco-friendly buildings, egalitarian objects, and a laid-back, no frills (comfort-centric) approach to décor. So what does all this say about our global culture? How is design responding to human behavior and emotion, climate change, socio-economic currents, and necessity? By examining how these trends evolve, we can better understand our social and environmental shifts, our value systems, and ultimately take the next step in pursuing progressive design.

From digitally printed homes to nuclear bunkers, a refocus on the ingenuity of 20th century designers, and anti-stress cues found in home décor trends, the following is a sampling of some of the most progressive, socially conscious content for home & design at Culture Trip in 2017.

3D printing and the future of housing

Image of an urban cabin by DUS Architects | © Ossip van Dolvenbode

How are designers responding to the global housing shortage with affordable, sustainable designs? Advances in 3D printing are paving the way for new housing technology and changing how we construct our homes. Culture Trip’s London home & design editor, Charlotte Luxford, explores the future possibilities for 3D-printed houses.

A drastic rise in nuclear bunkers in the United States

An illustration of a person watering a plant in an underground bunker | Alex Mellon / © Culture Trip

Nuclear bunker sales are on the rise in the United States. Why the sudden surge in secret underground shelters? Culture Trip’s New York home & design editor, Amber C. Snider, speaks to the leading manufacturer of nuclear bunkers in the United States to find out why these shelters (once reserved for the ultra-wealthy or conspiracy theorists) are currently the hot new commodity on the housing market.

Chill vibes only. Décor in 2017 was all about getting back to the natural, authentic self

© United Photo Studio / Shutterstock

Wabi-sabi, an ancient Japanese philosophy-turned-home décor trend, is all about embracing your authentic, imperfect self—including all the imperfect stuff in your life. This year’s biggest trends were all about comfort (think hygge and lagom), signifying that everyone just needs more chill vibes in their lifeWith all the stressors of 2017, it’s more important than ever that our homes act as a source of comfort and refuge, which means paring down and getting back to the earthy basics.

Empowering local communities with design

Courtesy of Cole & Son

Socially conscious design has been at the forefront this year, and designers are placing much more attention on how their work influences their surrounding communities in concrete ways. Earlier this year, British wallpaper brand Cole & Son collaborated with South African ceramic company Ardmore, and not only created beautiful works of art, but also offered “local women life-changing creative opportunities.”

A return to egalitarian design in the age of mass production and consumption

The Valentine typewriter: a rebellious design | Michaela Pointon / © Culture Trip

A playful anthropomorphization permeated 20th century designer Ettore Sottsass’s work; he loved to imbue his creations with quirky, human characteristics. He chose bright red so as to “not remind anyone of the monotonous working hours,” and orange scroll caps that resemble nipples and eyes. In the age of mass production, how does one defy “sameness”? What cues can we take from Sottsass’s iconic red “failure”?

Open House came back with an epic new lineup this year

Illustration by Alex Mellon | © Culture Trip

Open House London opened over 800 landmarks and lesser-known treasures to the public this year, along with Open House New York, and others. Here, Culture Trip explores the most visually stimulating and historically significant structures that everyone should check out.

Boring beige walls are officially over. This year, it’s all about that wallpaper…

Brooklyn’s wallpaper gurus at Flavor Paper have custom designed some of the most vibrant, cutting edge wall designs on the market. Ranging from Andy Warhol’s signature screen prints-turned-wall-art, to scratch and sniff wallpaper (’90s throwback, anyone?), their designs have definitely caught the world’s attention this year. Read how Flavor Paper is changing the design game, click here.

Using essential oils to enhance your body, mind, spirit, and home

© leonori / Shutterstock

“Creating custom scents are tools we can use to manifest the change we’d like to see in our lives—who wouldn’t want to do that?” says certified aromatherapist Aba Gyepi-Garbrah in NYC. Essential oils are one of the biggest trends in wellness this year, and there are countless creative ways to use them in your home. Here, Aba discusses the secrets behind working with botanical oils and their healing benefits.

Illustration by Michaela Pointon | © Culture Trip

Glass towers with large windows have become the accepted norm in the modern cityscape—a major shift away from the brutalist architecture of the mid-20th century. But what does this architectural trend say about our psychology? How are the related instincts of the voyeur and the exhibitionist bound up in the evolution of our architecture of living space? Do we take pleasure in watching others?

A playful, imaginative resurgence of this dynamic husband-and-wife design duo

Photomontage | © Eames Office LLC

Vitra Design Museum presented a major retrospective of Charles and Ray Eames’ work earlier this year in Germany, and further proved why we should all (still) take notice of this dynamic husband-and-wife duo. Their “unique design ethos infiltrated both their private and professional lives and led them to create some of the most enduring designs on the planet.” We needed a resurgence of that playful, laid-back energy in 2017, and can definitely take that inspiration in 2018.