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An ode to maximalism

Posted March 17th, 2021, 11:47 AM IST

An ode to maximalism

A room overflowing with all kinds of things — curios, books, furniture, rugs, cushions, flowers, photographs, paintings, clocks, gadgets — you name it. Does the image take you back to the comfortable clutter of your grandmother’s living room? Well, if you’re getting nostalgic for those good old days, filled with love and warmth, we have good news for you — clutter is in vogue again!
Recently, supermodel Gigi Hadid shared some photos on Instagram of the colourful interiors of her New York apartment which she had been working on with Gordon Kahn. It turns out she’s a total maximalist, with a design style that is out of the box. The pandemic taught us the importance of a home being full of what you most love and enjoy. And that’s what maximalism is all about.

More is best

Maximalism means more of everything —more of your favourite fabrics, patterns, colours and accessories,” says Anupa Reddy, Founder and Creative Director at DEETALES Design. But even in maximalism there’s a pattern. “To keep your decor from looking too random, find a few objects with colours or patterns to repeat through the room,” she suggests. However, Anupa is quick to stress that there is no wrong way to create a maximalist style in your home. “All you need is to voice your passion for creating a truly personalised and unique space,” she says.

Hoarding stories

“If you’ve ever visited someone who has travelled a lot or has a long ancestorial history, you may see that every available space in their home displays collectibles. It’s borderline hoarding but also quintessential maximalism. Objects are used to tell a story. It is about surrounding yourself with the things that you love,” says Anupa. “Over the last couple of decades, we have been conditioned to be unwilling to be adventurous. We have stamped out maximalism and embraced minimalism and modular living, so much so that now we find ourselves having to fight for every scrap of individuality,” she adds.

Rules don’t rule

The no-rules-necessary approach to decorating is the cornerstone of maximalist design.
It brings personality and depth to a home. “As Jonathan Adler rightly said in his design manifesto ‘I totally believe minimalism is a bummer’,” asserts noted interior designer Supriya Reddy. “Maximalist design is infused with visual splendour using elements of surprise, and a vibrant colour palette.
There is no thumb rule of design or symmetry. It’s all about the creativity, imagination and personality it reflects,” she
explains. “In the present day, when the outdoors has become so precious, we prefer maximalist
vibrant spaces to liven up our days, whether it’s entertaining guests,
working from home or unwinding with a book,” she adds.

Pick and choose

l The trick to getting this style right is curating. Carefully curating pieces, collections, and artwork will make space go from chaotic to polished.

l Decorating with nature and bringing the beauty of the changing seasons into the home is easy and inexpensive, and the materials can be found on our doorsteps.

Telling tales

Maximalist interior design is not about adding random stuff to your decor. It’s about curating a collection of things that tell a story. Your story.
“Maximalism is about surrounding yourself with the things that you love. It can be art, decor, furniture, anything at all, but it all boils down to layering those things beautifully together in a strategic way,” says well-known interior designer Sudha Moola. She suggests using mirrors in halls to create the impression of added space. “Colours can be used to enhance spaces, and even small areas of landscaping in balconies and sit-outs act as detox to the eyes,” she says. Placing indoor plants in washrooms and bedrooms not only adds dimensions to the spaces, but also keeps us close to nature,” she points out.

Maximum touches

l Busy walls — walls laden with photographs or art often stretching from ceiling to floor
l Bold colours and repetitive patterns
l Multiple items like books, sculptures, plants, etc.
l Eclectic furniture
l Multiple, layered textures
l Layered rugs
l A mixture of different interior design styles

Creativity, not chaos

According to Nikita Bansal, head of Design Lighting Orange Tree, creativity can be injected anywhere. Transforming a space, she says, can be as simple as “juxtaposing materials in a contrasting combination of colours, materials, textures and modernity with traditional elements. And this can be accompanied by a large number of accessories and decorations. Maximalism allows you to give your fantasies free rein, experiment, and fully reflect yourself in any interior space.”

Maximum gain

There has been a reactionary eruption of colour and texture, with the Maximalism hashtag now garnering around 170,000 posts on Instagram. A host of influencers are incorporating the word Maximalist into their Insta handles. Maximalism is characterised by unique touches to interiors to express and reflect the homeowner’s character and taste.


The liberal use of rich colours, plush finishes and accessories are characteristics of the minimalistic style of decoration. “There is joy in coordinating an assortment of interior elements such as floral abstracts, wild stripes etc. that create an aura of whimsy,” says Punam Kalra, Creative Director of I’M the centre for Applied Arts.

Setting the clock back

Retro-inspired pieces are synonymous with nostalgic dreams. “Strong hues such as emerald green or burgundy are popular maximalist choices” says Punam.

Balance is key

The maximalist trend carries the risk of overwhelming the décor. Here are some suggestions to off-set this danger.
l Bold curves and freeform solids can replace geometric pieces.
l Modern art can be juxtaposed with reinterpreted elements of classic design like scallops in modern materials to give a contemporary edge to the design.
l Distinctive furniture like geometric coffee tables add visual depth to any space when juxtaposed with multiplanar voluminous forms.
l Experimental accessories in a combination of modern biosynthetic and recyclable materials, along with rough, organic finishing and digitally printed patterns create an ultra-modern vibe.
l A blend of daring colours like Cobalt Blue and Candy Pink or even the Pantone 2021 grey brings an added interest to the decor
l Lounge chairs and ottomans with lush throw pillows in satin or silk are finding their way back to maximalist homes.
l Metallic embellishments on plush fabrics like velvet and leather add a distinctive edge to style. A touch of metallic shades in combination with bold colours can instantly add glamour to a room.

Visual overdose

Maximalism was the ‘in thing’ in the 1910s —people used printed wallpapers, and followed up with curtains, sofas etc with the same print. There was a visual overdose and this was called maximalism,” according to Supraja Rao, Principal Designer of Design House. “Another form of maximalism is over-consumption where you place a piece of art or mouldings on a patterned wallpaper. Layering carpets, placing one over the other, is yet another way,” she says. Noting that visual maximalism is really being appreciated now, she expresses the view that, “With the kind of lives we lead, involving a high use of digital media, maximalism is not going to be good for the heart and the head. People will not be at peace with so much visual chaos.” She believes maximalism should be limited to the surrounding landscape.
“Maximalism is very difficult to achieve. It’s not everybody's cup of tea to layer things and get the aesthetics, the proportions, the colours and the palette right,” says Supraja.

Tips and tricks
l Layering is the best format for walls.
l Use a coloured texture paint and then do some art work on it; put in a console and fill that with curios, flowers, candles.
l Use patterned cushions with patterned sofas.
l Create a nest of tables, where one is for ornamental purposes, and others are functional, for the placement of food. of food.
l Wallpaper can be paired with matching upholstery and curtains and even the head-port of the bed in the bedroom.
l Install a three-seater sofa-cum-bed, place a rug in front of it and add a table or a chair in a corner, or a console or cabinet filled with artefacts.