It's no secret that brand Barbie is having a moment in the spotlight right now. Barbie and Balmain are taking the digital world by storm in the form of NFTs, with each successful purchaser also snapping up a miniature Barbie-sized Balmain outfit. Barbie is being brought to life on the big screen thanks to superstar actress Margot Robbie. And all that is before we get to he way in which Barbie is currently making a huge impression in both the fashion and interior design spaces right now with a little trend that has come to be known as Barbiecore.
But what exactly is Barbiecore and is this a trend you really want to embrace? The answer is: absolutely yes, even if only in small, subtle ways. So, let's get on to demystifying the real-life Barbie aesthetic and illustrate why this is a trend you might not want to let pass you by completely.
What is Barbiecore?
Barbie is easily toy brand Mattel's most popular creation, with countless iterations, including scientist Barbie, astronaut Barbie, and vet Barbie. Barbiecore is inspired by Barbie's bold, pretty pink aesthetic and is proving to be extremely popular amongst those who are keen to embrace playfulness and enjoy a hint of nostalgia within their interiors.
However, there are also a wide variety of ways to take elements from the Barbiecore aesthetic without completely replicating the Dreamhouse. In fact, this trend incorporates several different styles, including Hollywood glamour, traditional chintz, and post-modern chic.
Barbiecore in 2022
Hannah Dahl has created the hugely popular Dahl House which is located in Los Angeles and acts as a real-life dollhouse that is always ready to be the backdrop for an array of photoshoots. Dahl's vision came together extraordinarily quickly after seeing a perfectly lacquered pink bedroom set from the 1980s online and promptly arranging travel to Florida to secure it.
Somewhat similarly, designer Sophie Colle has transformed her apartment in Brooklyn, New York into a candy-hued Barbie Dreamhouse that feels like a safe haven from the outside world but is also a fully functional home conducive to both everyday life and work. For many, the Barbie aesthetic is extremely nostalgic and instantly transports people back to their childhood years. And as the world has been in a state of disarray for such a long time, with outbreaks of war and a global pandemic, it's impossible to blame anyone for wanting to create spaces that feel like a positive escape from the endless news cycle.
This is a point that has been picked up on by Mattel's current vice president of Barbie design, Kim Culmone. Culmone has said that in the world of Barbie, children have the agency to explore their own stories and immerse themselves in worlds of their own creation. This is something we lose as we emerge into adulthood, often feeling out of control at various points throughout our lives. As Barbie's world has become more inclusive in recent years, it is proving to be a safe haven for anyone who wants to embrace it but that's certainly not to say that it's only a retreat for those seeking shelter. Barbie has always been hopeful and eager to embrace the future. After all, she made it to the moon before we did and her dream house was equipped with all sorts of futuristic technology, including a robot tasked with vacuuming shoes.
How to Embrace the Barbie Aesthetic
Fully embracing the barbie aesthetic isn't just for those who want to transform their homes into an all-pink wonderland. In fact, the two aren't quite as synonymous as you might initially assume and as with every design trend that emerges, you can choose the elements that appeal to you, your personal style, and lifestyle.
Ultimately, the modern Barbiecore aesthetic is centred around the creation of uplifting spaces with a free-spirited attitude that allows us to step away from some of the seriousness of everyday life and just be.
So, the great news is that there are many ways to incorporate elements of this design trend into your interiors, making it an accessible and remarkably versatile option. Here are just a few ideas to get your creativity flowing.
- The Signature Barbie Wall
Whether you want to go all in and actually paint one or more of your walls in a pretty pink hue or collect a selection of pink frames and pieces of art to curate a pink gallery wall, this single project can completely transform the way your entire home feels when you step inside. This design choice often works especially well in compact spaces that you want to make a real impact within, such as downstairs powder rooms or quirky laundry areas.
- Think Tone
Pink spaces can very quickly start to look very one note, which often leaves rooms feeling surprisingly dull, lifeless and overwhelming. To avoid this, incorporate hot pinks with light pinks and think about adding flashes of Barbie-esque colours such as lavender, yellow and aqua. Colour pairings are always important as they can create a very specific look that may or may not be quite what you had imagined. For example, pairing black and pink will instantly give a very punk inspired aesthetic, whereas pairing pink and orange is the way to go if you want to channel swinging sixties design.
This is a design tip that has been accomplished to perfection in this space, which features several tones of pink alongside splashes of pale yellow, neon peach, lavender and aqua in a variety of fun shapes. The canary yellow and pastel pink hues within this beautiful living area are brought to life by the bolder pink, blue, yellow and red tones in the statement glass chandelier. This striking lighting feature also boasts ultra-reflective surfaces that make them look like super sweet pieces of candy. The Pelham cushion from Andrew Martin offers a fresh pop of canary yellow and will always make the right Barbie-inspired impression when scattered across a pink velvet sofa or occasional chair.
Remember, if you aren't sure exactly which look you want to achieve, you can never go wrong pairing pinks and white tones together as this will always give a fresh aesthetic that you can build upon with the addition of a few more different hues. Additionally, choosing design accessories with an ombre colour palette, such as the Elise vase from Libra, will allow you to easily incorporate different, complementary tones into your space. The Pokal vase from Liang & Eimil is another example of this multi-hued design trend, offering a flash of pink as well as a striking pop of green that looks effortlessly stylish and very Barbie.
- And Texture
Barbie lives in a plastic-heavy world, so it makes sense that the most successful Barbie inspired interiors incorporate lots of lacquered and high-gloss pieces. However, these need to be balanced with softer, more forgiving textures such as fuzzy pink blankets and faux fur throw cushions. The Native Home pink sheepskin rug exudes luxury and playfulness, and would make a wonderful addition to a sophisticated, Barbie-inspired master bedroom suite or elevated living area. The Milano rug from Native Home offers texture in a slightly different way and is the perfect floor accessory to complete a modern Barbie inspired dining area or living space.
Double sided accessories are an excellent way to experiment with texture, particularly if you are someone who likes to try new things and has an element of indecisiveness. A double sided cushion can be easily flipped around to create a completely different mood, allowing you to indulge in a little slice of what you want, for precisely as long as you want to enjoy it.
If you want to immediately embrace a slightly more eccentric Barbiecore look, the Upanova table lamp from Richmond is the perfect piece to kickstart the design of your dining area, entryway, or master bedroom suite. The gleaming gold stand is designed to resemble the textured trunk of a palm tree and support the cascade of soft pink feathers that have so much personality, movement and charm. The Burlesque floor lamp from Richmond is its larger scale sister and will pair perfectly with the Upanova table lamp in a spacious living or dining area, ideal for both entertaining and relaxing. Both the floor lamp and table lamp in this collection are also available in black and white tones, which can offer a multi-tonal and highly textured look that exudes modernity and perhaps offers slightly more versatility than a pink on pink on pink option.
- Don't Lose Yourself
In order to maintain a close connection with your home, it is essential to ensure that the look you want to achieve incorporates elements that you can connect with on a personal level. You aren't Barbie and you shouldn't try to be. Instead, remember that you occupy the starring role within your home and you should include pieces and styles that appeal to your personal taste and your lifestyle. The brand's push towards inclusivity means that there is no single way to embrace the Barbie world and, in many ways, it can be exactly what you want it to be.
One of the simplest ways to start incorporating this trend into your existing interiors is to switch up the art on your walls as well as a handful of smaller accessories, such as trinket dishes and table lamps. These subtle switches will always look both playful and intentional, ensuring that your home doesn't end up looking as though you're chasing a selection of trends all at the same time.
- Minimalist Maximalism
Although an undeniably bold aesthetic featuring lots of striking design choices including feature walls and brightly coloured hero pieces of furniture, the Barbie look certainly isn't cluttered and as such, everything should have a place. The House of Adora in Nashville, Tennessee is a prime example of minimalist maximalism, with its bold pink exterior contrasted by the simple lawned garden and just a handful of carefully selected porch accessories.
Even a single large-scale item in a fresh pink hue can be enough to allow you to embrace the playfulness of this fun trend. For example, a pretty pink sofa, such as the Statham Kilimanjaro sectional from Andrew Martin can be styled in an otherwise neutral room with plenty of natural textures, including jute rugs and woven wall decor. Similarly, the Frederico velvet chair from Gillmore can be styled to act as the hero piece in a sophisticated master bedroom suite featuring plenty of fresh white and grounding black tones. Its matte black frame has a contemporary look and its pink velvet upholstery brings the element of playful luxury that the Barbie aesthetic embodies at every turn.
The Frederico canopy bed from Gillmore is another hero Barbiecore bedroom design piece, with its gleaming brass finish exuding luxury and glamour. This is enhanced by the blush pink upholstered headboard in a delightfully tactile velvet material that is both on-trend and timeless.
- Embrace Subtlety
Bold pink tones can be incorporated into your interiors in myriad subtle ways, including through bed linens in master and guest bedrooms, towels in bathrooms and kitchens, place settings, centrepieces and barware in dining areas, and lamp shades and coffee table books in living rooms. Olivia's Ava coasters are a gorgeous shade of pink agate and feature a glamorous gold trim which screams Barbie chic in a delightfully subtle way.
Even scattering a few floral cushions on a retro sofa or adorning a wall or two with a set of garland lights can introduce just enough of Barbie's instantly recognisable aesthetic into your home. Or rather than reaching for the paint roller, why not consider painting door trims to introduce smaller bursts of colour into your home? These elements will catch the eye and help to create a playful atmosphere without ever feeling too overwhelming.
- Lean Into 90s Nostalgia
Although in many ways Barbie embraces the future, her first heyday occurred in the 1980s and 90s so incorporating a few retro design pieces into a Barbiecore aesthetic always feels right. There are numerous ways to approach this, including rotary landline phones, vintage coffee table books, and tasselled lampshades.
- Make Fresh Yet Classic Choices
If your home is crying out for a cute bar cart area, a preppy pink wall colour is an excellent starting point. From here, add a glamorous gold and glass bar cart decorated simply with some pink and clear glassware, your favourite bar tools, and perhaps a small bud vase containing a fresh or dried posey of pink blooms. The Shelby drinks trolley from Mindy Brownes is a wonderful example of Barbie's slight retro vibe and its soft oval silhouette is contrasted beautifully by the duo of playful mirrored shelves.
Alternatively, you could choose to position two, four or six Vera dining chairs from Olivia's around a clear glass dining table to create a modern meets traditional entertaining space with a timelessness that will never fall out of favour. Its curved, feminine silhouette is oh so Barbiecore and the beautiful pink velvet upholstery contrasts with the bold black chair legs and glamorous brass flourishes.
Barbiecore is Fun, Fresh, and Creative
As expected from such a fun and versatile trend, there really is no wrong way to incorporate a little bit of Barbie chic into your life. Its central philosophy is to make decor choices that make you happy and to really let loose and express your creativity and personal style in joyful ways. From baby pink tasselled blankets such as the Serena from Malini to the bohemian chic blush pink textured Opal Pouffe from Gallery Interiors you really can go your own way with this trend.
Choose furniture pieces with gold or brass accents to lean into the Hollywood glamour element of Barbie's aesthetic or select pieces like the Caverly occasional chair from Libra, which have a chrome finish to lean into the futuristic aspect of Barbiecore. Even something as small as incorporating a soft pink salt lamp, such as the orb from Olivia's can elevate your space and embrace the elements of sophistication and sanctuary that sit at the heart of this fun, feminine, and fabulous design trend.