Meet the New Abstract Shape Taking the Design World by Storm

Updated 08/05/19
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Courtesy of Cortney Bishop

Remember chevrons? The angular, zig zag pattern came on strong around 2009, and boy, did it have a good run. At peak chevron saturation, you could find just about anything adorned with the happy shape—bedding, lamp shades, plates, trays, you name it—in every color of the rainbow. Ten years later, the design world is back to its tricks, making what’s old new again. Because while chevron itself isn’t staging a comeback, it’s close cousin, the squiggle, is definitely having a moment. Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?

The squiggle is definitely looser and lighter than the bold chevron, so it fits in perfectly with the organic edges, handhewn materials, and curvy shapes that have become super popular in interiors these days. And it also jibes well with the revival of Memphis-inspired style too. It’s almost like designers took the classic chevron and elongated it, pulling at its edges and stretching it out a bit, to make the squiggle. And from there, prints have gotten more and more doodle-like, like the abstract pattern on the living room curtains above.

Waves are squiggles, but not all squiggles have to be perfect wave shapes. Any sort of somewhat curvy, meandering mark qualifies as a squiggle in my book, and I think the design world would agree.

Living room with abstract wall art.
Becky Elfes-Terjung

What makes the squiggle even more versatile than the chevron is the fact that even furniture silhouettes and accessories can be squiggles themselves. Sure, there might have been a side table and shelf (or two) that looked like chevron, but squiggles—because they are curvy—are more restful and pleasing to the eye. So, they’ve quietly begun infiltrating the furniture and case goods market as well. Heck, they’re even showing up as wall art, as seen in the living room makeover below from Team Emily Henderson.

Living Room with Curved Home Décor
Sara Tramp; DESIGN: Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design 

What’s the best way to use squiggly lines in your space? So glad you asked. I’ve been scouring the market for squiggles because I think this motif is here to stay. And I have to say, this shape just plain makes me happy. Here’s what made my shopping list.

Bed with white sheets with wave motif and green duvet
Brooklinen Luxury Sheet Set, Mojito Waves on Cream $149
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We should all start having more fun with our bedding—white hotel linens have dominated for far too long. Not saying you need to go buy Disney princess sheets, but something like this subtle squiggly print is still sophisticated enough for an adult bedroom. I promise!

Coffee table with squiggly gold base and glass top.
My Swanky Home Squiggle Coffee Table $693
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Squiggles skew modern, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go a little glam when given the right opportunity. Here, a round glass tabletop and gold squiggle metal base meet to create a fun, feminine coffee table. I’m betting it will pair well with any velvet sofa.

Squiggly terra cotta vase with dried flowers
Afloral Handmade Squiggle Vase $35
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This vase is plain good, whether you fill it with flowers for your nightstand or leave it empty on a bookshelf.

Wall with planted cacti and an abstract squiggle wall art piece.
Katie Gong Design Squiggle Wall $750+
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Take your gallery wall up a notch with a one-of-a-kind, 3D squiggle sculpture. You can select a custom length, bend direction, and hanging orientation to make this piece your own.

Pink lumbar pillow with white squiggles
Wayfair Kelly Haines Squiggle Lumbar Pillow $54
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Love the pink color and the subtle white squiggles—put one on your bed or sofa, and call it a day.

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