In 2020, we saw celebrities like Frank Ocean, Bella Hadid and Lena Dunham flaunting their Ettore Sottsass’s Ultrafragola mirrors on social media. Since then, we’ve seen it everywhere (seriously, Pinterest *will not let us forget* that this mirror exists). However, as we head into 2021, it seems as if this $10,000 mirror has sparked a new(ish) phenomenon in the design world: squircles. Not sure exactly what a squircle is? Yeah, we weren’t clear on it, either. Luckily, Jennifer Dubas, VP of Design with Hudson Valley Lighting Group, is here to help explain the trend and give us some insight into where it comes from. Here, find everything you need to know about the emerging squircle trend (plus ten items to shop the look).
Squircles are Taking Over Homes Everywhere, and We're Here with Everything You Need To Know About ‘Em
If you take away the celebrity and notoriety that accompanies the Ultrafragola mirror, you’re left with one thing: squircles. They’re neither totally round nor square, and they melt harsh edges and straight lines like ice cream on a warm summer day. Indeed, the squircles we’re seeing all over Instagram are a true contradiction of the “square” and “circle” shapes we’ve relied on in the past—and its iconoclastic nature is no coincidence. “The 'squircles' trend, in which we see a circle/square hybrid, is extremely reminiscent of the squiggles motif that was born from the Memphis Group [in the 1980s],” says Dubas. The group became famous for its abstract shapes and colorful patterns—a playful change of pace from the dark colors and sharp angles found in mid-century modern style. Today, “elements of these fluid squiggles can now be seen in the shapes of mirrors, candles and more,” Dubas explains. “It is also interesting to note that contemporary designers have chosen to go with lighter pastels and simple earth tones in lieu of the contrasting patterns and bold colors we see in Memphis style.”
You’ve probably picked up on this by now, but unapologetically being exactly who you are is the theme of 2021. We’ve written about this idea a lot lately (see: the anti-bra movement), and we think you get the gist—uniqueness is in, and following the status quo is out. However, this trend is more about rebellion than self-expression (cue the ‘90s punk playlist). As much as we’re trying to better ourselves by overcoming negative self-talk and embracing body neutrality, we can’t deny that that pandemic has left us with a fiery anger raging inside. As a result, we’ve decided to dye our hair pink and display unruly decor; it’s the least problematic way to express our frustrations (at least, for us millennials).
And we’re not the first generation to take this approach: “The philosophy behind the Memphis aesthetic was to disregard what society deemed ‘good taste’ in favor of the outrageous,” writes PureWow editor Candace Davison.
For those who don’t know, the Memphis design movement is the antidote to the Hobbit-meets-Folklore design style that dominated 2020 (and it actually has nothing to do with the city). Born from a collective of young designers and architects who went by “The Memphis Group,” the style is marked by bold colors, non-traditional geometric shapes and lots of squiggles (or Bacterio Print). “Today, we're starting to see less abrasive elements of Memphis Style pop up in contemporary decor,” says Dubas. Now, instead of insanely colorful, outrageously shaped decor and furniture, we’re seeing hints of the style being applied in more muted tones and contemporary aesthetics. Think Anthropologie’s artisanal, geometric-filled line called A Space for Splendor, or Crate & Barrel’s ultra-mod collab with Leanne Ford.
So what does all of this have to do with the squircle trend? “In the case of the 'squircles' and squiggly mirrors we're seeing all over social media, I think there's an obvious connection to the Memphis design style that was prevalent throughout the '80s. Only now, we're getting a modern take on the bold colors and harsh geometric shapes. European and Nordic designers such as Gustaf Westman have turned to light pastel colors and rounded edges. We're even seeing this trend in smaller decor accessories such as these decorative sculptural candles from Nata Concept Store,” says Dubas. However, following the fall trends of 2021, we’re seeing this decor skew less pastel and more warm, earthy neutral,l as we start to transition from the summer months. Below, find ten of our favorite squircle furniture and decor items to get your house fall-ready.