Arches have been a prominent part of interior and exterior architectural design for thousands of years. The Romans used arches in pretty much everything, and even more recent movements like Art Deco in the 20s and 30s continued to reimagine them. While curves and soft lines may have taken a bit of a backseat during the minimalist era, we’re seeing a real rebirth of arches in design.
So why are we seeing this trend everywhere? Firstly, arches are incredibly versatile. Designers use them in everything from accessories, furniture and architecture to patterns and layouts. On top of this, they soften a minimal and angular space, an essential tool for the clean lines of spaces like new build properties.
With wellbeing at the forefront of design at the moment, arches and other organic shapes create a softness that speaks to a slower and calmer pace of life. Rebelling against more rigid aesthetics, arches are becoming a powerful tool in achieving more natural motifs in interior schemes.
Going back to some of the earliest examples, the Egyptians used vast bridge-like doorways and the Romans really pioneered the curved shapes that we know today. More than just a decorative shape, the semi-circular structure elegantly distributes compression through its entire form & is the reason why it's features heavily in many famous structures, including the Colosseum & the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
In more recent years, designers continue to experiment with arches in their schemes. Spanish sculptor Xavier Corbero's surrealist inspired home features stacked arches like the Roman’s Tower of Pisa, but here they act predominantly as a sculptural statement to cast dramatic shadows across a whitewashed garden. Inside, arches feature in doorways and mezzanines as decorative features.
Interior designers are really embracing the dramatic arches and character features of period properties right now. New build spaces pose more of a challenge as designers need to find innovative ways of creating softer features, like painted wall arches, built in booths and careful colour blocking.
Italian studio Casework have embraced arches in their schemes through the use of bespoke cabinetry, curved countertops and subtly contrasting tiled focal points. They cleverly mirror arches in their choice of furniture and accessories, even down to the smallest detail like cabinet handles.
Another design practise making the most of interior arches is Sò Studio. Their Oxalis Restaurant in Shanghai features arched acoustic panelling, room dividers, furniture and lighting. Foliage and earthy green accents are scattered throughout the room, and traditional manufacturing techniques like rattan emphasise the organic feel.
On the other end of the spectrum, Russian designer Timur Mitin’s bold renders show how arches can be completely transformed by using a different colour palette. Deep blues and strong pinks create a dramatic and more playful mood, while curves help to blend contrasting tones more seamlessly. Timur’s striking restaurant scheme uses arches in windows and backrests, and celebrates AYTM’s Angui range of arched furniture.
Furniture and Accessories
From statement chandeliers to curved sofas, interior designers have a lot of choice when it comes to sourcing arch-inspired products for their spaces. Beautifully curved pieces are used to either mirror and accentuate existing architectural features, or to soften an otherwise boxy room. Sweeping arches also serve a more practical purpose in sofas or seating as they can gently zone a space and blend more subtly into a room.
Pholc’s Bounce pendant range is a perfect example of how arches are inspiring manufacturers in a big way. The layered and graphic arch structure really resonates with the historic archway designs of the Roman Colosseum. Similarly, ferm LIVING’s Vuelta lamp is created with ribbed opal glass, reminiscent of ancient columns.
We can all agree that arches are visually striking, but their popularity isn’t just down to aesthetics. As the world becomes increasingly concerned with supporting positive mental and physical wellbeing, we’ve really seen a change in how designers approach a space. Introducing foliage, calming colour palettes and natural textures creates a more organic feel, which can ultimately encourage a healthy mind and body. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the use of curved arches is also part of this movement towards softer and oasis-like spaces.
Tips for bringing arches into your home:
- Paint them onto your walls to help frame consoles, mirrors or artwork.
- Invest in a statement mirror or cabinet to join the arches fan club.
- If you’re lucky enough to have architectural arches in your space, celebrate them! Try painting them in bold or contrasting colours to really make a feature of them.