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The New Design Trend That’s Making Us Nostalgic for Our Childhoods

Neotenic furnishings and accessories add a youthful air to interiors.

By Carly Scholl

Popping up in boutiques and galleries across the country is a new trend that feels nostalgically familiar. While, scientifically, neoteny describes the lag in physical development of humans and animals, resulting in childlike features, the term is being used in the design world to categorize furnishings, decor, art and accessories that have juvenile qualities: rounded edges, thick, curving appendages, simple forms and even animal-like attributes. These cute creations are a soft, playful contrast to more sophisticated design styles and add a note of unaffected charisma anywhere they’re used.

Light and Bright

Handcrafted of ceramic and finished with brass details, this arched lamp combines cheerful hues with a curious silhouette for a table or desktop fixture with fun flair. 18″H by 7″ in diameter. $975 (

Precocious Planter

Trendy terrazzo gets the neotenic treatment in the Archie Pot by Capra Designs. The squat silhouette and confettilike colors capture a youthful essence in a handmade vessel. 7″H by 5″ in diameter. $70 (

Customizable Comfort

An icon of 1970s design, the caterpillar-esque DS-600 Sofa curves and undulates as each plush upholstered segment can be arranged and adjusted in nearly any configuration for maximum relaxation. Price upon request. (

Take a Seat

Constructed from white pine and vegetable-tanned leather, the Chubby Chair by Jack Rabbit Studio recalls children’s playroom furniture but retains a sleek, mature stylishness. 24″ square. $2,500 (

Catch-All Creature

Conical “feet” on the Crawl Canister give this silicone storage vessel a hint of zoomorphic character. 4″H by 5″ in diameter. $50 (

Elephantine Elements

The thick, rounded legs on this minimalist dining table are made from stone and cement, while a simple glass top seems to float above. 30″H by 95″W by 45″D. $1,399 (

’Round the Bend

Designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1951, the Bowl Chair was recently resurrected by Arper and brought into the modern era. The moveable, hemispherical seat upholstered in bright hues is both cozy and eye-catching. Price upon request. (

Good Luck Charm

Polymer clay earrings featuring dangling, asymmetrical wishbone shapes are a wearable take on this new design trend. $42 (


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