Need inspiration? Hit the Streets
The influence of street culture on mainstream design and style shows no signs of letting up
According to London-based global trend forecaster WGSN, ‘neo mint’ will be the colour of 2020 when it comes to fashion and interiors. How did they come to this conclusion? Through extensive research, of course – but also by observing street culture, current affairs and social media. As with many trends, analysts look to what is happening in the real world – quite literally, what’s happening at street level. Street art encompasses more than just graffiti (although this medium has a far-reaching influence), it also incorporates flash mobs, poster art, painted murals and more.
Chad Hanning, one of 50 people selected as an Emerging Creative at Design Indaba 2018, backs the influence and importance of street art on mainstream culture. In his own words, Hanning says, ‘I believe in how powerful street art is and use it to give a place life or a feeling’.
One of Hanning's previous projects was a mural for a youth centre in Villiersdorp, where he was inspired by the natural beauty of the area.
‘I painted a dreamy landscape that went from sky, clouds, mountain, water to agriculture and protea flowers,’ he explains.
And while this particular piece was important for uniting and engaging a community, graffiti and street art are powerful for inspiring more than just social upliftment – its widespread influence extends to fashion, mainstream art and even interiors.
Hong Kong-based interior designer Anji Connell recently commissioned two local street artists to get creative in one of her properties in South Africa. In an interview for SCMP.com, Connell explains, ‘street art, or “refined graffiti”, brings something unexpected – an edgy cool – to a home, whether it’s in the form of a full wall mural or a small art statement, tag or graffiti-adorned piece of furniture. It’s [also] an excellent conversation starter’.
The South African creatives she chose are visual artist Ana Kuni, and urban artist Wayne Bks. Enthused by the creations that have brought life to her home, Connell is now including hand-painted graffiti furniture in a residential project for a Hong Kong client.
Similarly, at Milan Design Week earlier this year, Lebanese designer and architect Fadi Sarieddine unveiled a series of lights that he had created, inspired by renowned street artist Banksy. The limited-edition lamps are literally a depiction of a spray can, with the ‘spray’ a glass cone delicately inscripted with metallic calligraphy by visual artist Naji Al Mir.
And in New York City, scaffolding has been reinvented as works of art in a new non-profit project called City Canvas, powered by ArtBridge. Here, construction boards outside the Google office in Chelsea, stretching across 8th to 9th Avenue on West 16th Street, have been adorned with striking murals by female and non-binary artists. In an interview with The Guardian, ArtBridge’s director Stephen Pierson comments, ‘[this initiative aims] to promote early and mid-career artists, but especially those whose backgrounds and narratives have traditionally been disempowered or marginalised. We aim to not merely beautify the city but empower local artists to be community-builders.’
Many years ago, Banksy was famously quoted as stating: ‘Imagine a city where graffiti wasn't illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall - it's wet.’
He’s definitely onto something…