The arrival of COVID-19 saw the rise of Dark Academia, a new trend that had a lot to do with the introspection and long weeks in isolation. It was a resurgence of the gothic aesthetic that was popularised on TikTok and related to the darkness that seemed to define that period. Later, Light Academia became popular, a direct reaction to the darkness with its light, pastel colours and soft browns and pinks.
At its core, Light Academia is a blend of rustic and sophistication. Gen Z AKA the Zillennials (i.e., those born between the late 90s and the early 2000s) didn’t want to keep dragging that darkness around and decided that it was time for a complete 180. Seemingly overnight, we moved from the darkness towards the light.
Initially, it was the fashion world that embraced this change, but interior design wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines for long. Now, heading toward the light has become one of the biggest design trends of 2022.
Light Academia and Natural Sanctuary
There are a few options for bringing light into interior design under the umbrella of what we call Natural Sanctuary. One of the most well-known is the rustic style, characterised by the connection to nature that completely takes over the space. The materials used in this style appear robust yet delicate. Creating private nooks with an organic feel in which you can rest or relax is a big part of this trend, especially when natural materials such as stone or wood are used. Adding plants also brings us closer to that brightness and freshness we’re looking for, to that glow that we want to light up our surroundings.
It’s all about stripping spaces of superfluous pieces and keeping only the simple, the elegant, the comfortable, and the cosy. Rustic interiors feature heavy, solid furniture but without the excess. The ideal fabrics to use in these spaces are smooth linen, cotton, or wool. Slightly rough textures such as yute and sisal are also good options. Clay and stone are also frequently used, as well as wicker, wire, and bamboo.
Light Academia and the monastic style
Another variation of this design approach is the monastic style. If self-care and healing are a must for you, creating interiors that have a ‘sacred aura’ is the best choice. These are relaxed spaces with a minimalist design where we can find the sense of calm we crave. It’s something that’s particularly relevant in our noisy and hyperconnected society. Spaces that are ‘cut off’ both visually and acoustically are particularly desirable because they provide a sense of tranquillity that we need and yet don’t receive on a daily basis.
Linear timber and raw, natural materials, fibres, and oak wood will help us create spaces with good vibes. Arches are also your friend if you like the monastic style, as is an open separation between spaces where light floods the whole room.
Light Academia and Nostalgic Future
Nostalgic Future aligns perfectly with this bright approach. With its vintage revival that draws on a classic feel, materials including timber, and furniture and other pieces from days gone by. The Nordic style will also get us closer to the light. In countries like Finland, Sweden, and Norway, there are so few daylight hours that people usually choose light colours and pieces connected to nature for their homes in order to make up for the lack of natural light.
An eclectic style that keeps classic features such as moulding on furniture and walls while combining them with smoother decorative elements and the use of glass can also help us include this lighter trend in our homes. Whites and creams are the most used in this approach. Then there is the luxury minimalist approach, in which the functional takes precedent over the ornamental with bright results.
White is associated with cleanliness, purity, and order and is always a good option that is easy to match. It’s also symbolic of peace, simplicity, and austerity, and provides a sense of calm. Combining it with timber gives interiors a lot of personality. Adding warmth through other materials such as beige cushions or blankets, a small black detail, or lamps or rugs made out of natural fibres will never disappoint.
Light is a key element of interior design and light colours can help you create spaces that are simple yet always elegant. Light also provides a sense of spaciousness, which is always a plus. In Ikigai interior design, which has also become very popular over the last few years, there are different ways of creating spaces that have a pleasant feel, including with colours like white, contact with nature and, in general, by focusing on what’s local. Sometimes bringing a little light into our lives is as simple as looking at what we have around us and incorporating that into our everyday lives.