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June 23, 2024

Unravelling the Dopamine Décor Trend 

Schenelle Dsouza  
Your home reflects your sense of self, and that is probably why no two homes have the exact same ambience. However, two homes might be more similar than you think, if you’re thinking in terms of subcultures. After the longstanding debate between maximalism and minimalism, and the forgettable Barbiecore design trend, the internet has now shifted to the dopamine décor trend. Put simply, the previously popular fashion trend serves to create a space that reflects positive emotions. Remember the phrase, “home is my happy place”? The dopamine décor trend will create a living space that actually spells happiness!  
Happy Home  
For the unaware, dopamine is a type of monoamine neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that, when released into the brain, communicates feelings of happiness and fulfilment. The dopamine décor trend draws inspiration from the science of how our brain reacts to different environments and aims to create interiors that trigger feelings of happiness, relaxation, and satisfaction. 
Dopamine Decor
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
So, what constitutes the dopamine décor trend? Picture your childhood bedroom, full of bright colours, prints and patterns, eclectic artworks, stuffed toys, and anarchic décor – all of which might seem like clutter to others, but is your very own space of ecstasy. That is exactly what the dopamine décor trend is all about. Now depending on who you ask, there are many different reasons for the sudden popularity of the dopamine décor trend. While some believe it to be a derivative of the prevalent maximalism trend, others agree that it stemmed from the Barbiecore trend. And realistically, the latter sounds more believable.  
The dopamine trend is full of vibrant colours, but one central tone in the trend is that of bright pastels –pink, purple and red, all of which are a major part Barbiecore. Swasti Shah Mehrotra, Founder and Creative Head of The Blue Knot, agrees with Barbiecore playing a part in the trend. “The craze behind Barbie and even the pantone colour of the season Viva Magenta played a part in promoting the dopamine décor trend. Apart from that, it is the seasonality of décor trends that contribute to the hype behind such trends. As for dopamine décor, the sultry weather makes people yearn for brighter elements that are quirky and cool.”
Swasti Shah Mehrotra- Founder, The Blue Knot
Swasti Shah Mehrotra- Founder, The Blue Knot
Dopamine vs maximalism  
The interior design industry is in a constant flux; one moment its simple, elegant interiors, and the next its bold, statement selections. Thanks to the internet, maximalism and minimalism were, for the longest time, two of the most popular design trends. Everything from cafés and restaurants to homes and offices reflected either one of these two trends, while some even managed to blur the lines between the two. However, anyone with a keen eye can pinpoint the stark differences between the two. “While maximalism can be about adding objects or making the space look fuller, dopamine décor has an emotional relevance to it. It is nestled on the idea of sparking joy, adding a dash of dopamine through the playfulness of colours, textures, and design patterns,” says Mehrotra.  
If this still confuses you, here’s how you differentiate dopamine décor from maximalism.  
Dopamine Decor
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
Two distinct interior design styles, both dopamine décor and maximalism offer contrasting approaches to creating living spaces. As previously mentioned, the main purpose of dopamine décor is to promote positive emotions, a sense of well-being and happiness. The visual impact of maximalism is significant for creating a sense of drama and extravagance. The goal is to make a bold statement and leave a lasting impression. And so, maximalism is characterized by bold designs – the abundance and embrace of the excess. It is a stark contrast of minimalism and aims to create an opulent and visually rich living space. Maximalism, on the other hand,  
Aside from décor, technology too adds to the opulence of a maximalist space which is why tech-inspired décor and elements are a popular choice. As for dopamine décor, the design style integrates technology more thoughtfully, balancing connectivity with opportunities for relaxation and unplugging, while simultaneously incorporating tech-free zones to encourage mindful living. 
Building on the above, maximalism is all about opulence. And while it does employ a wide range of colours, the general colour palette is limited to deeper hues complemented with bold mix and match elements. Dopamine décor sticks to vibrance – a vibrant, harmonious colour scheme, playful patterns, and kitsch décor. Now dopamine decor isn’t inherently minimalist, although, unlike maximalism, it does place a strong emphasis on functionality and purposeful design to avoids clutter, an important aspect in minimalist design. Maximalism is not focused on optimizing space or functionality. Instead, it revels in creating an atmosphere that’s visually stimulating and highly decorative.
Dopamine Decor
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
Given that dopamine décor is meant to ignite positivity, natural elements play a major role in enhancing the space. Indoor plants, natural light, and biophilic design principles are common in dopamine décor as they contribute to a soothing and refreshing ambiance. Maximalist interiors are known for their diverse and eclectic collection of décor items, furnishings, and art pieces. The space can be densely adorned with ornaments and decorations. 
While personalization is encouraged in dopamine decor, it is often done in a way that aligns with the goal of fostering positive emotions. Customized art, sentimental décor, and meaningful pieces are integrated into the design. Maximalism too allows for personal expression, but through a bolder mix of styles, eras, and even cultural influences. 
Mood Enhancer 
One of the biggest questions about the inherent dopamine décor trend is how exactly does décor and design influence one’s mood? We already know that dopamine décor aims to positively impact one’s mood by creating an environment that triggers feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and well-being. But how does it really do that? 
Dopamine Decor
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
The first and most important aspect is the use of colour. For years now, colour psychology has played a part in influencing a person’s behaviour and mood. While dark colours often leave you feeling low and lethargic, bright colours help you feel rather ecstatic and energetic. Colours like sunshine yellow, soft pinks and baby blues, can stimulate feelings of joy and enthusiasm.  
After the colour, what you put into your room is another element that can directly affect your mood. Indoor plants became an important element for home décor ever since people were forced to stay indoors for months during the Covid pandemic in 2019. Incorporating natural elements into your space is another hallmark of the dopamine décor trend. Biophilic design principles bring the outdoors inside, promoting a sense of tranquillity and connection with nature. Elements like indoor plants, natural materials like wood and stone, organic textures and ample natural light contribute to a refreshing and invigorating ambiance which not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also has a positive impact on mental well-being. These can help reduce stress levels and increase relaxation which is an overall mood booster.
Despite its cluttered look, dopamine decor emphasizes functional and comfortable spaces. In terms of furniture and layout, dopamine décor encourages the creation of functional and comfortable spaces. Furniture pieces are selected not just for their visual appeal, but also for their ergonomic design and usability. Well-designed furniture and open layouts ensure that the space is both visually pleasing and easy to navigate, which fosters social interaction, and ensures that the space can be used for various activities, catering to different moods and needs.  
Dopamine Decor
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
Promoting relaxation is among the top priorities for dopamine décor, which is why mindful technology integration is a must. Limiting technology to not only provides opportunities for relaxing but also encourages a healthier relationship with technology.
The intentional design choices made in dopamine decor are aligned with the principles of environmental psychology. Creating an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and harmonious environment can have a psychological impact on individuals, promoting a positive outlook and reducing stress. However, it is important to know that the impact of interior design on mood can vary from person to person. Factors such as personal preferences, past experiences, and individual sensitivities play a role in how a particular design style affects an individual’s emotions. Ultimately, dopamine décor aims to enhance well-being and create spaces that promote positive emotional responses, contributing to an overall uplifting and joyful living experience. The overall atmosphere created by dopamine décor, with its emphasis on vibrant colours, natural elements, and functional design, can lead to positive associations with the space. Spending time in such an environment can contribute to an elevated mood and a sense of contentment. Dedicated tech-free zones, comfortable seating areas, and the incorporation of smart home features for convenience all contribute to a holistic approach to interior design. 
Dopamine Decor
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
In conclusion, the dopamine décor trend goes beyond aesthetics to prioritize emotional well-being. By using vibrant colours, natural elements, functional furniture, mindful technology integration, and personalization, spaces are transformed into environments that trigger positive emotions and contribute to a sense of happiness and fulfilment. This trend not only beautifies interiors but also nurtures the minds and hearts of those who inhabit them.  
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Schenelle Dsouza

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