Which cities inspire designers?

Which cities inspire interior design choices the most? New research by Atlas Ceramics has revealed Instagram’s favorite cities for interior design inspiration. By analyzing Instagram, global search data, Pinterest and TikTok, the study has revealed where in the world we are mostly taking inspiration from for decor, aesthetic, furniture and design.

Dubai takes the lead with more than 520,000 posts on Instagram, proving to be a hub for creative interior design in the eyes of most. In fact, every year the United Arab Emirates’ design capital attracts interior designers and design students from all over the world.

London’s creative and eclectic style, which draws inspiration from traditional craftsmanship without compromising on innovation, comes in second, with almost 400,000 Instagram posts. In third place is Milan, long-recognized for its innovative design—from textiles to furniture, the Italian fashion capital is known for having welcomed some of the world’s most pioneering interior designers.

Futher findings:

  • TikTok, like Instagram, crowns Dubai as the most inspirational city, with more than two million posts.
  • Looking at combined annual Google searches across the categories of interiors, decor, aesthetic, furniture and tiles, Paris ranked first as the most inspirational city for interior design with more than 292,000 total searches.
  • London was the most inspirational city on Pinterest, picking up the highest number of pages (more than 64,000).

The full research is available to view here.

We asked Mike Head, managing director, Atlas Ceramics, about his thoughts on the findings:

What are your thoughts on the findings? Were you surprised at any of the data?
I wasn’t surprised to see Paris and New York ranking so high, but I wouldn’t have expected to see Singapore higher in the rankings than London and Dubai. Although a reasonable explanation for Singapore’s high scores does exist: it’s the rising interest for Peranakan tiles. These are tiles (usually depicting Chinese symbols) that can often be found decorating homes and building facades in Singapore. They’re not produced anymore so the ones that can be found are vintage, and they’re quite popular in Singapore’s Peranakan community.

Why do you believe Paris ranked first as the most inspirational for interior design?
I’d say that Paris is all about aesthetics—known as the capital of fashion, gourmet dishes and fine wine, Paris is also the capital of interior design. The European city is home to some of the best interior designers in the world—French names like Jean-Louis Deniot and Philippe Starck are leaders in the field. Combining classic elements with contemporary design is key for the Parisian unique interior style. The French will not get rid of a room’s history, they will instead work around it, glorifying its character by accompanying the older architectural characteristics with modern items.

Are you seeing any design trends based on these findings?
Moroccan tiles are a big 2022 favorite for interiors. The mesmerizing designs and complex patterns can give a unique touch to both bathrooms and other living spaces—wherever you want to make a visual statement really.

With Dubai also ranking high in all categories, in 2022 I expect people to take inspiration from the royal palace nature of its hotels and include a luxurious style into their homes—a lot of marble floors and surfaces, and probably some gold finishes on taps.

Tokyo also ranked quite high, which suggests that the Japandi trend will keep on maintaining its relevance in 2022—we’ll be seeing a lot of neutral color schemes, natural finishes and green accents, all tied together with a theme of minimalism.

Why do you believe global travel, culture and history are so influential in the design world?
Culture is an essential part of who we are, and our homes need to reflect our culture in order for us to be able to feel comfortable in the space we spend the majority of our lives in. This is even more true if we move to a different country, where home becomes the place through which we can keep in contact with our roots, what’s familiar and especially where we feel like we belong. Interior design is very much like art: it draws inspiration from the social context we inhabit, the history that has preceded us. We might not choose to be influenced by culture and history, but they do have an impact on us because they’re all around. Travel’s also a big part of who we become as human beings, and necessarily has an influence on interior design in the sense that it sparks good memories, reminds us of enriching experiences that have added to our personal baggage.

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