The year 2019 is bringing in new technologies and old techniques to create beautiful spaces and objects. Below, some of the latest trends in art, architecture, and design.

Art

In the luxury market, originality, innovation, and handcrafted execution captivate connoisseurs of fine furniture who see art in every curve and carving.

For nearly half a century, the studio of Zito Schmitt Design in Sebastopol, Calif., has been creating heirloom furniture. “Museum-quality pieces are timeless,” says Debey Zito, who designs and makes the furniture that her partner, Terry Schmitt, carves. “They are handmade using time-honored joinery and woodworking techniques.”

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A Zito Schmitt Design cabinet with pussy-willow carvings

Zito’s designs, inspired by European Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles as well as Asian aesthetics, take 200 to 500 hours to craft. The most complex sell for US$30,000.

“I’ve always desired to make furniture that embodies the quietness, beauty, and complexity of nature,” says Zito, whose motifs have included herons and acorn branches. “My pieces are designed so that you take in the whole first, then look for what I call the jewels—the smooth edges across the top of a cabinet or the hand-hammered copper handles plated in nickel.”

When viewed in that manner, each piece reveals not only the inherent artistry of the work, but also the soul of the artist “and brings a deep beauty and richness to one’s home.”

Locatelli Partners’ 3-D printed house was built by a robot.

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Architecture

Architects around the globe are exploring the use of 3-D technology to build high-end residences.

One of the pioneers is Massimiliano Locatelli, whose eponymous firm in Milan, Italy, used a portable robot to print and erect an elegantly appointed 1,100-square-foot abode on site at the 2018 Salone del Mobile design festival in Milan.

The one-story concrete residence, which features curved walls, a roof garden, and a vegetable garden, has 35 modules, each printed in 60 to 90 minutes. They are designed to be taken apart and reassembled elsewhere and recycled.

“We are still in the experimental stage,” he says. “But we are confident that the costs should be slightly less than half the average cost of traditional construction, about 1,000 euros per square meter. In the future, this could be reduced to 200 to 300 euros.”

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The interior of the 3-D printed house

Design

Hand-painted murals, which have been enhancing interiors since ancient times, are enjoying a renaissance.

“A mural can turn a dud room into one of the best ones in the house,” says muralist Lucinda Oakes, who is based in Sussex, England. “It can inject architectural detail, it can bring a breathtaking view, and it can make a small room seem larger.”

Murals also offer an opportunity for owners to personalize their residences. Oakes says clients typically ask her to add a coat of arms, a monogram, a particular building, or even an exact image of the house itself.

Oakes, who specializes in scenes inspired by 18th-century landscape paintings, spends weeks or even months creating her murals, which cost 8,000 pounds sterling to £80,000. She paints on rolls of canvas or paper in her studio, rolls them up, and touches them up after they are installed.

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