Picture the scene: a pink wall, an emerald green armchair and the flailing arms of a palm tree. This is so many contemporary offices in London right now: ‘millennial pink’ and emerald green have, over the past decade, become iconised as the go-to colours of the millennial worker era. Until now.
There is change in the air, with the first signs that the ubiquitous pink and green that has defined offices, restaurants and public spaces may be about to get scrubbed away. After becoming the most Instagrammed restaurant in the world, the millennial pink dining room at Sketch restaurant in Mayfair, one of the main spaces which heralded the trend when it was decorated in 2014, has been reimagined with a new yellow tone.
How did Sketch founder Mourad Mazouz feel when his David Shrigley-designed millennial pink interiors came to define an era?
“That’s why I wanted out, I cannot stand it anymore, I had enough,” says Mourad Mazouz, founder of Sketch. “Suddenly pink pink pink pink and flowers. It’s okay, I don’t judge, but me, I had enough. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know – it was suffocating.”
Mazouz remembers disdain from diners on Instagram when Sketch first revealed that the pink had been replaced with new yellow hues earlier this year. “The first day we had 17,000 people talking about it on Instagram. ‘How dare you take it away?’” remembers Mazouz.
“I think it clearly signified the end of an era,” says Emily Rhodes at trend forecasting agency The Future Laboratory. “When you think of millennial pink obviously it summed up that generation. But maybe the millennial generation is becoming less influential and it’s Gen Z stepping up to influence more trends around places and spaces in interior design.”
Neons, lilacs, lime green and “optimistic” yellows are the tones that will replace millennial pink and signify a new era, according to The Future Laboratory. So the new yellowy goldish Sketch dining room feels representative of the future. “I think in the time we’re living in right now it symbolises quite a lot, I think it is a sign of a new generation rising,” says Rhodes of the tone, which in Sketch is composed of dozens of individual shades.
“It’s a popular colour we’re seeing in branding, in retail design. It’s not just about optimism, it’s very expressive. What you can see in interior design at the moment is all about expressing personality.”
Surveys show Gen Z values individualism more than millennials. Daisy Brooke-Taylor, who, aged 18, identifies as Gen Z and has grown up in the shadow of the pervasive pink, works at Luca Italian restaurant in Farringdon. “I feel like it’s a bit dead,” she says of the millennial pink and emerald green palm tree vibe. “If I walk up the road I’ve got three restaurants where the interior is exactly the same: millennial pink, green chairs, plants,” she says.
“Obviously it’s nice by itself but when you’ve got three restaurants within ten metres of one another you definitely think to move away from that. “It’s exactly the same as fashion trends, or trends in general – you like it at first but then once everyone else is doing it, it gets less interesting.”
But for all their hype, the palm trees weren’t actually any more pervasive than any other interior design trends popular in other decades, says Rhodes. “Each decade you could sum up with colour,” she says. “If you’re thinking about the seventies you’re thinking about warm tones, oranges, browns, creams. Then you go into the ‘80s and you’ve got neons, bright, everything’s hyper futuristic. The ‘90s, it’s really paired down again, minimalism.”
It’s funny to think that millennial pink will one day be as outdated as the brown patterned wallpaper of the seventies – but it’s not just the look that is dating. So too is the influencer culture birthed amid millennial pink – the culture of tens of thousands of influencers taking ostensibly the same photographs in front of the same palm trees backdropped by pink.
This copycat culture is likely to put off the new generation. “Gen Z are quite anti-influencer,” says Laura. “They prefer to be more small scale.” So far, so refreshing. And with predictions of neon washes, the future’s bright.
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