An overcrowded picture gallery, kitschy artefacts, memorabilia jostling for space, and shelves teeming with knick-knacks galore. Move over austere minimalism, cottage core and Marie Kondo….welcome maximalism—say hello to cluttercore!
A decor trend that became viral in mid-2020, a search on the hashtag #cluttercore throws up more than 17,000 posts on Instagram and has garnered close to 9 million views on Tik Tok.A decor aesthetic that is essentially all about creating a distinctively personal space and cosy vibe through vibrant colours, mismatched but aesthetically put together elements like artefacts, furniture and furnishings—cluttercore has been aptly described by Twitter as "an organized mess" that feels "like a big surrounding hug."
Memories, stories and more
Cluttercore is basically about surrounding yourself with the things you love, like souvenirs that preserve memories and pieces that speak of several stories. With a focus on decorating with items that have a personal meaning and reflect your unique personality, cluttercore is about storytelling and emotional resonance.
“The cluttercore trend allows you to tell your story and express your personality via your space. Imagine entering a living room with no idea of whose space you are about to enter and you see a commanding Moroccan chandelier, a collection of beautiful handcrafted Matryoshka dolls perched on an Indian rosewood console that rests over an exquisite Turkish silk carpet, walls adorned with city maps with scribblings upon it. What does it tell you about the person whose abode you have entered? To me it’s clear that you are about to meet an explorer!” says Sanjana Lunia, founder of Eris Home. Lunia goes on to add that this trend is about creating a space that is textured with layers of personality and life experiences where you can reminisce the past and share anecdotes. “This is one of the hottest trends right now because it allows you to express yourself, make your home an extension of yourself as opposed to trying to fit into any mould created by an interior designer or design magazine,” she adds.
As individuals, we are emotionally connected to various things that are related to places and events that have had an impact on us and have shaped our lives. It could be things passed down from generations or things collected over time, during travels or as a result of our hobbies and passions. “Cluttercore is creative chaos. It resonates with the idea of filling up homes with meaningful objects that have been collected over the years and hold sentimental value. The books, art, ceramic, vinyl and collectables all layered together add a personal dimension to the interior spaces. The trend is an enhancement of maximalism where people display mismatched collectables that resonate with the inhabitant’s inherent personality. It has been gaining popularity amongst the millennial generation and the Gen Z for its representation of unapologetic abundance and individuality,” say Disha Bhavsar and Shivani Ajmera, principal designers and co-founders, Quirk Studio.
Given that the cluttercore décor aesthetic is about one’s personality, there is no “one” way to do it. Just like maximalism, it is all about the right balance of elements. There are no underlying rules but an attempt to balance colours, patterns, textures and prints—it is all about juxtaposition. “The rule that works most often is when in doubt, decorate your spaces with furniture and accessories, and fill up your walls with art. Display pieces that have their own unique story to tell and give out a vibration on their own. You need to use various elements, be it artefacts, sculptures or furnishings, to build layers in an area and add depth to its narrative,” says Priyanka Singh, director of VO Living.
The unabashed use of bright colours, quirky patterns, print-on-print, unconventional furniture, wall plates, art, treasures and trinkets are great ideas to create warm, comforting vibes. If you are short on square footage, go in for tall racks, floating shelves, and maximise on vertical spaces so that your space does not look chaotic. Mix and match elements to break the monotony and to create a visual break. “Lighting plays a crucial role. You don’t want to evenly light everything. You want your gaze to rest on some elements, while you glance over the others,” adds Lunia.
Grouping artefacts according to size, decorating in triangles, adding in house plants, using rugs to help delineate one space from the other are some ways to add a sense of coherence and prevent the space from becoming overwhelming. “Colour-coding certain pieces could be a good start. Embrace your eclectic side and break the stereotypical design rules, discover the various shapes and sizes that work in tandem,” says Avani Khurana, co-founder of Beyond Dreams.
Method to the madness: balance is key
It is key to note that maximalism is not akin to mishmash, mess, or hoarding. There is a fine line between creating a space that allows you to express yourself meaningfully by adorning it with things of value and accumulating things that have little or no sentimental value. Accumulating clutter and randomly placing objects is definitely not the essence of the cluttercore philosophy. Attention to detail is of the utmost importance while choosing to display elements that are close to your heart. “Each piece should tell a story in its individual right, whether about its craftsmanship or the nostalgia that it may bring or about its form that evokes something inside us or the comfort of its functionality. This adds to a wonderful environment full of things that we love and enjoy without the need to find a specific style or order,” says Siddarth Sirohi, founder of Baro Design.
In order to get this right, always stay true to your core—think about what you want the space to convey, the mood you want to create and build it up from there. Do not feel the pressure to fill every inch of wall space or every tabletop. Let the space have meaning and spark joy. Allow it to grow organically and slowly build character to showcase your unique personality.