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Exploring Barbiecore: Pink Designs That Embody the 2023 TrendAuthor: Radmila Durasinovic
Exploring Barbiecore: Pink Designs That Embody the 2023 Trend
This month’s release of the Barbie film was accompanied with an overwhelming stream of publicity. From Airbnb’s listing for a real-life bright-pink Malibu Dreamhouse, to numerous collaborations with well-known fashion brands and, to humour Londoners, the Barbican tube station becoming “Barbiecan” for the day, the widespread marketing campaign of the first live-action film tracing Barbie’s journey of self-discovery has been hard to ignore lately. But Barbie is only at the culmination of the current pink colour trend that began last year on the runway helmed by the likes of Valentino and Alexander McQueen and has since spread to the realm of architecture and design. Following the commotion caused by what was undoubtedly this year’s most anticipated film, as well as this year’s hottest colour, we have rounded up 6 furniture/object designs that make interesting use of the colour pink—from its saccharine allure to its floral and feminine associations—looking like they could have emerged straight from the maximalist set of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Land or graced the fuchsia carpets of 2022-23 fashion shows.
Karim Rashid, renowned for his love of the colour pink and his determination to infuse vibrant hues into his designs, has taken up a personal mission to counter the neutral trend prevalent in Western culture. Considered the "king of pink," he passionately advocates for the colour as a positive and empowering choice, aiming to challenge gender stereotypes with his creations. In his collaboration with Scarlet Splendour for their latest collection called Ego, Rashid draws inspiration from his time as a student under the legendary designer Gaetano Pesce. During that period, he was assigned a unique project to design a drinking glass resembling a human head or face. Building on this concept, Rashid presents five original pieces in the collection including an indulgent chair featuring a human face design in hot pink.
Shaped like a pair of giant red lips, the iconic Bocca sofa was inspired by Salvador Dalì's 1935 Portrait of Mae West and the luscious red lips of Hollywood stars. Designed by Studio 65 architects in 1970, the Bocca sofa has since become a cult object produced exclusively by Gufram. Following the success of the original red version, two new colours of the sofa were introduced: Dark Lady and Pink Lady.
The vibrant red colour of the original Bocca sofa evokes sensuality and captures the provocative essence of old Hollywood. With the two new versions, colour continues to play a crucial role. The first variation, known as "Dark Lady," embraces a gothic aesthetic with its all-black design and oversized piercing. Conversely, the "Pink Lady" version comes in fuchsia, infusing Bocca’s form with an air of contemporary glam.
Originally conceived as a 3D rendering, the Hortensia Armchair garnered immense attention and popularity on social media, prompting numerous orders despite its physical non-existence. Recognizing the demand, Reisinger & Esqué, the creative minds behind the design, set out on a quest to transform the chair into a tangible product. Initially, achieving wide availability seemed nearly impossible, earning the chair the moniker of "the chair that can't be made." However, in collaboration with Moooi, Reisinger & Esqué brought the piece inspired by the pink flower into existence. The Hortensia Armchair ingeniously replicates the delicacy and beauty of the namesake flower with its impressive array of over 30,000 soft petals. Júlia Esqué's expertise in textile design played a vital role in achieving the chair's tactile surface, which authentically captures the essence of a blossoming hortensia.
Running until May 2024, the Vitra Design Museum’s annual exhibition titled "Colour Rush! An Installation by Sabine Marcelis" is a comprehensive exploration of colour. Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis was invited to transform the Schaudepot by organising its approximately four hundred exhibits in a sweeping gesture based on colour. Marcelis is well known for her reflections on colour, and in particular uses pink for its association with the comfort and indulgence of sweets. This is evident in her design of the Boa Pouf, created for Hem. The pouf takes on a donut-like shape, with a sculptural and soft appearance. It is encased in a seamless outer layer that gives it a smooth, air-brushed finish.
One of the more recent additions to the Vitra Schaudepot is Marcelis’ pink Candy Cube, which challenges our expectations regarding the functionality and comfort of furniture. Its angular shape, candy-coloured surface, and glossy finish create an alluring visual contrast. The cube's purpose is open to interpretation, leaving us wondering, is it a seat or a coffee table? Its pink colour, fading from the edges towards a denser, monolithic centre, only adds to its enigmatic appeal.
During last year's Milan Design Week, Louis Poulsen released their Pale Rose collection with a whimsical installation at the historic Taveggia patisserie. Taking inspiration from Poul Henningsen's deep fascination with the interplay between colour and light, the collection specifically explores the influence of pale pink on the brightness and overall aesthetics of a lamp. The PH lamp series, originally introduced in the late 1920s, embraced the use of coloured glass shades to infuse spaces with a sense of warmth and individuality, while ensuring the quality of the emitted light remained uncompromised. Over time, various hues like red, amber, and yellow were introduced to the series, expanding its visual palette. The PH Pale Rose collection infuses Henningsen’s most iconic lighting designs with a delicate rosy tint, and marks the first inclusion of this subtle pink shade within the designer’s classic three-shade system.
For German design company Schönbuch, the year 2023 is all about the colour pink. Fully embracing the current trend and making it a focal point of their marketing campaign, they have reintroduced old designs and introduced new ones in this vibrant hue. A standout piece among the new releases is Grace, a trolley designed by Sebastian Herkner. Schönbuch considers it a future classic, applying minimalist aesthetics and a vibrant colour palette to a traditional item. Grace serves multiple functions—as a mobile bar, side table, or storage unit in home offices—effortlessly infusing everyday spaces with a touch of style. Drawing inspiration from 1950s architecture, Grace’s form oozes minimalist elegance, while the contemporary colourway elevates it to a statement piece.
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