New kitsch on the block: The gaudy interiors trend taking over our homes

Ellie Goodman

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25 May 2022

Once the hallmark of outdated design and a shorthand for bad taste, kitsch has seen a contemporary revival that is turning the world of interior design on its head

25 May 2022 | Ellie Goodman | If you purchase something via our website, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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revolution is happening in homeware. The last two years have seen us spend more time within our humble abodes than ever before, and as we’ve taken stock of our surroundings, we’ve found them somewhat lacking when it comes to fun. Sure, a tidy house makes a tidy mind, but as the great British writer and artist William Morris once said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” So why not fill your space to bursting with beautiful things that bring you joy?

Thankfully, this revolution represents just that. A return to the loud, colourful interiors of decades past that have been slated as tacky and kitschy by aesthetes and interior designers keen to push the idea that living in an empty white cube is the ideal state of being. A reaction to the pared-back millennial minimalism that has seen contemporary interiors stripped of personality and overtaken by 5,000 shades of grey, this modern take on a once-maligned aesthetic is now being embraced with suitably wild abandon.

 
 

Don’t get us wrong, contemporary kitschcore is definitely not your grandparents’ Babycham coupes or painted porcelain figures – although those can be found in abundance at any good antique store, along with a plethora of kitschy treasures – rather, it’s a more sophisticated, refined take on the ironic, polarising trend that’s taking interiors fans by storm. Think: whimsical textiles, quirky hand-painted ceramics and playful, retro-tinged objets d’art. Luckily, it’s easy to transform your space into a present-day kitsch haven with just the addition of a few carefully curated pieces. Not sure where to start? Here’s our rundown of the best homeware brands bringing the cool back to kitsch.

Amuse La Bouche

Known for its circus-striped linens, London-based indie brand Amuse La Bouche initially caused a stir with its playful ruffle napkins and has since branched out to create a line of seriously sweet ceramics. All of the label’s 100 per cent linen textiles are handmade in small batches in India by skilled artisans using eco-friendly pigment dyes. In the past year alone the brand has partnered with big-hitting names in fashion and homeware, including Kitri, Maison Flaneur and Glasette, on a range of covetable capsules that put the fun back into interior decoration.

Visit amuselabouche.com

 
 

Anissa Kermiche

Following the success of its structural fine jewellery offering, reflecting a generation of empowered, unapologetic women, Anissa Kermiche has taken its flirty sensibility to the next level with a range of bold ceramics. Inspired by the beauty of the female form, the brand’s cheeky “Love Handles” vases and “Tit for Tat” candles (which double beautifully as abstract sculptures) quickly gained a cult following and inspired a wave of similarly sensual ceramics, textiles and artworks following in its wake, celebrating and uplifting the female silhouette in all shapes and sizes.

Visit anissakermiche.com

Bordallo Pinheiro

Founded in Portugal in 1884, Bordallo Pinheiro was doing kitsch long before kitsch even entered our collective consciousness. Its whimsical ceramics, inspired by natural forms – think aubergine-shaped platters, melon bowls and daisy plates – have since been emulated en masse and led the way for the playful tableware that took over interiors in the mid-20th century and beyond. Today, the brand’s ceramicists still use original moulds to continue the company’s rich tradition of handmade pottery, and its signature intricate, cabbage-shaped earthenware remains a hallmark of good taste.

Visit bordallopinheiro.com

 
 

Cave Things

Though we’re not entirely sure Nick Cave would appreciate being labelled ‘kitsch’, the musician’s eponymous range of playful objets décoratifs are imbued with the sort of subversive whimsicality that epitomises contemporary kitsch. Established in 2020, Cave Things offers a humorous window into the mind of the revered songwriter, who designs each item himself. Expect everything from hand-illustrated tiles and tea sets to stationery, wallpaper and pocket charms.

Visit cavethings.com

Colville

Founded in 2018 by Lucinda Chambers (ex-British Vogue fashion director) and Molly Molloy (formerly design director at Marni), Colville’s bold, uplifting homeware collections represent the antithesis of fast, throwaway design. Imbued with a retro-European sensibility, the brand’s punchy, clashing textiles and supersized marble vases make for an injection of laid-back, artisanal luxury that every interior will be glad for.

Visit colvilleofficial.com

 
 

Helle Mardahl

Looking to make happy hour that much more exciting? Inspired by everything from Alice in Wonderland and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, to childhood visits to the sweet shop, Helle Mardahl’s eccentric glassware puts a flamboyant spin on traditional barware, light fixtures and trinket trays. Rendered in saccharine sweet shades, the brand’s nostalgic, glossy glassware cultivates a childlike curiosity that has us asking why all other glassware is so ordinary.

Visit hellemardahl.com

Jonathan Adler

Founded on the belief that your home should be a place of happiness, Jonathan Adler’s namesake brand excels in the kind of charming yet subversive homeware that brings more than a little sense of humour to your space. Characterised by bold colour palettes, off-beat artistry and unexpected historical references, the brand’s high-octane, hedonistic ceramics, glassware and decorative objects are brimming with personality and sure to make any interior shine.

Visit jonathanadler.com

 
 

Josephine Dessine

After finding herself unemployed and homebound due to chronic illness during the pandemic, Josephine Fauchier was handed a stack of ceramic plates by her mother and told to draw. Draw she did, and soon after Josephine Dessine was born, taking Instagram by storm and offering playfully hand-painted bespoke ceramics to those who enjoy their luxury with a side of humour. Inspired by the idea of eating off your dream dinner guests, rather than extending them an invite, the brand’s ‘Icon’ collection features idiosyncratic sketches of big-name fashion figures such as Iris Apfel, Rei Kawakubo and Coco Chanel, all intricately painted onto pristine porcelain, so you can dine with the greats whenever the mood strikes.

Available at net-a-porter.com

Klimchi

Image courtesy of Klimchi

Based in the Czechian city of Kamenicky Senov in the country’s so-called Crystal Valley, Klimchi is a collective of artisanal glassmakers creating colourful, hand-blown crystal glassware that brings new life to the rich Bohemian tradition of glass production. Influenced by the region’s dramatic landscape, Klimchi’s stand-out hobbled glassware in a rainbow of eye-catching colours transforms any tablescape from ordinary to exceptional.

Available at amara.com

 
 

Laetitia Rouget

Photography by Hannah Thual
Photography by Hannah Thual

Inspired by her family’s history in the porcelain business, French designer Laetitia Rouget’s tongue-in-cheek ceramics bring a playful edge to the typically stuffy medium. Celebrating everything from British idiosyncrasies to nature and the human body, the brand’s whimsical ceramic plates, candlesticks and jars have become cropped up in every stylish interior throughout the capital and beyond. Chock full of charm and delightfully naughty, this terrifically kitschy tableware is sure to be a hit at your next dinner party. And if a sell-out collaboration with Franco-British It-girl Camille Charriere isn’t enough to turn your head, we don’t know what is.

Visit laetitiarouget.com

Petra Palumbo

Designed with sustainability at the forefront, Petra Palumbo’s eponymous homeware brand is paving the way for contemporary kitsch with its hand-painted glassware and quirky ceramic tiles. Once dubbed ‘the Queen of carafe-core’, Palumbo has melded her unique blend of Lebanese heritage and old-school Scotch sensibility to create a thoughtful, functional line of home furnishings that evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and promise to become the heirlooms of tomorrow.

Visit petrapalumbo.com

 
 

Polspotten

Dutch label Polspotten was founded in Amsterdam in 1986 and has been creating inventive, playful pieces for the home ever since. You won’t find any basic homewares here – from brightly patterned ceramics and sculptural, off-kilter candelabras, to cheeky, hand-sketched tea sets and Memphis-inspired glassware, the brand excels at taking the mundane and amping it up with a good dose of wit and a shot of bold colour for good measure.

Visit polspotten.com

Vaisselle

Founded by French designer Léa Zana from a desire to reinvigorate mealtimes during the pandemic, sustainable London-based tableware brand Vaisselle has been an instant hit with interiors fans. Uniquely blending the tradition of antique Spanish ceramics with a French flair for colour, the brand’s kitschy pottery, with swirling watercolour florals and clashing checks and stripes, immediately brightens up any dinner table, adding a little je ne sais quoi to your space.

Available at libertylondon.com

Read more: The Great: In conversation with award-winning interior designer Katharine Pooley