The Latest Home Trend Is Summer’s Answer to Cottagecore (And It’s a Minimalist’s Dream)

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If the patchwork quilts, toadstool knickknacks and floral wallpaper that embodied Cottagecore felt a little too rustic for your tastes, one of summer’s biggest home trends will feel like a breath of fresh air. It’s bold, it’s sleek—and it’s a total 180 from the Hobbit-meets-Folklore aesthetic that dominated 2020. It’s the Memphis Squiggle 2.0.

For the uninitiated, the Memphis movement has nothing to do with the city; “Memphis” is the name of an ‘80s design collective that favored squiggly shapes and bold colors—the more outrageous, the better. It was a sharp turn away from years of oh-so-serious modernism, an aesthetic that seems to influence every aspect of pop culture, from Espirit stores to the opening credits of Rocko’s Modern Life. (Just take one look at Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass’s Bacterio print and not picture the neon, squiggly backdrop to the show.)

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Design sites have been heralding Memphis’s comeback just about every year since 2017—when terrazzo took over—but it’s the squiggly décor, specifically, that seems to be gripping the mainstream right now. We saw glimmers of it pre-pandemic, when celebrities and high-end shops started showcasing Sottsass’s Ultrafragola mirror. Then, we went into lockdown, and for most of us, as much as we wanted to update our homes, an $11,000 mirror just wasn’t in the cards. But its look took hold, and before long, squiggly shapes in bright, punchy colors started appearing everywhere. Seriously—searches for “wavy” décor were so popular Etsy named it one of the top home trends of 2021, citing a 5,296 percent increase in searches for wavy mirrors.

And to that end, as soon as you start typing “Ultrafragola” into Google, it starts suggesting mirror dupes, replicas and DIYs. Etsy sellers are creating replicas of the mirror for $700, but people aren’t just interested in carbon copies of Sottsass’s creation. Brightly colored, squiggly décor can be found in Lex Pott’s viral Spiral Twist candles, in Funboy’s Pink Mesh Lounger pool float, in polymer clay wall art and Bala’s latest release, a 15-pound, 3-foot-long workout bar known as the Beam. It’s exercise gear you want to Instagram; a welcome break from the same old, same old we’ve experienced over the past year. Which is likely why the trend itself continues to grow.

“Shoppers are increasingly looking for creative additions to their homes,” Etsy’s trends expert Dayna Isom Johnson told us. “These wavy decor pieces are eye-catching conversation-starters that add a touch of playfulness to any space.”

It’s a dose of fun to shake up our years of white walls and restrained, universally safe décor (read: mid-century modern or modern farmhouse everything). On its own, it’s a statement maker, becoming the focal point of a room for minimalists. Layered with patterns and pops of color, it works for maximalists too, Isom Johnson says.

The squiggly style is even edging into fashion—searches for “wavy, curvy, or squiggly jewelry” are up 76 percent year over year, Etsy reports. At this rate, it wouldn’t be surprising if the look starts popping up more in clothing, nail art and shoes.

But, for now, if you want to ease into the look, here are some of our favorite pieces.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, cookbook author

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...