Trend Spotlight

Trend Spotlight: Nautical design – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Trend Spotlight on The Unexpected ChicAlong with animal print, LBDs and dark boot cut jeans, nautical-inspired design is one of those things that never really goes out of style. I know I’m talking fashion here, (and for those are you not in-the-know, an LBD is a ‘little black dress’), but it applies to interiors too. Flights of fancy come and go, but there are always those stalwart classics that are a go-to item for timeless design. Like a good, worn, leather chesterfield.

Therefore, maybe this isn’t your typical trends article. But it’s an enduring trend. And I think nautical design still has its highs and lows; always an acceptable theme but sometimes restored to the forefront and re-invented in new ways when the spotlight is once again put on it.

Nautical themes have been in my mind lately, as I’m working on starting a novel with this kind of inspiration. So I stumbled upon a few amazing pieces of design that I wanted to document and share, along with some tolerable ones, and some downright awful ones. Let’s start with the good, shall we?


I’ve always loved New Zealand design, with its natural inspiration, local materials and inventive craftsmanship. This Nautilus lamp from The Vault design store demonstrates just that. It’s a lovely example of seashell-inspired design that is wonderfully classy and modern, has nothing to do with your typical overdone seaside cottage.

Other awesome whimsical seashell-inspired home accessories. Very tastefully done in my opinion, adding a touch of beachy intrigue, rather than a full-on Little Mermaid attack.

Not for everyone, but very glam and fun! I think the choice of vanity is right to compliment the huge shell as a sink.

So cool for a garden – feels like you might a glimpse of the Sea King’s undersea adventures if you peer into it!

Amazing shell-inspired house design by Artechnic Architects. More info here. What a beautiful, simple interpretation of the form of a spiral shell!

This home by Lanciano Design is called The Seashell Residence, but only draws very subtle references to its namesake. I love the smooth sandy tones and carefully selected accessories that pull a thin thread of nautical inspiration throughout the scheme. More info here.


So, I debated whether to put this in ‘the bad’.

I actually quite like the idea, and think it would’ve made an awesome DIY focal point in a subtler, paler room. However in this space, I must say, it’s totally overwhelming (omg, I actually just made the typo ‘overshelming’, HAH!) and kitschy in the worst way. (source)


Yep, these ones make the ugly list. Straight from a bad 80’s hotel suite, both of these should go straight on your Do Not Do This, Ever list. Not that these people are terrible designers. They just had an unfortunate bout of (hopefully temporary) seashell obsession. Less is more, people!

Need I say more?

Actually, I will say one thing more. The above image, by Kohler, did have a really cool source of inspiration. They said the pink fixtures were inspired by the subtle blush on the underside of a Queen Conch shell. However, I still think the scheme as a whole is totally over the top!

(source) (source)

What do you think? Would you categorize these the same way I have? Or do your seashell-related preferences tend to differ?


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