Crate & Barrel's Sebastian Brauer Talks Fall Design Trends - Exclusive Interview

Have you felt the stirring of autumn? Maybe it was the aroma of your pumpkin spice latte or being awakened by cooler morning air. Fall looms like a summer thundercloud, and for many of us, it brings in our favorite, welcome weather. Brisk days, luminous blue skies, and coloring leaves draw us to the apple orchard or nursery in search of fluffy mums — but it's also time to head inside. 

With autumn approaching, we begin to reconsider the coziness and nurturing that our indoor spaces offer. Layering on and lying in gain intense appeal — yet we want to do it stylishly and effortlessly. To that end, we talked with Sebastian Brauer, Senior Vice President for Product Design, Development, and Metaverse at Crate & Barrel, and asked for his recommendations and insights to get the most out of our homes. From rich colors and satisfying textures to easy and practical pieces, find his tips for the season in House Digest's exclusive interview below.

Fall flavors

On the Crate & Barrel site, it's a very earthy and cozy aesthetic for the new fall arrivals (yet with the modern edge you're known for and textural fabrics that feel more year-round than perhaps in the past). What was the inspiration? Are there any particular pieces or collections running surprisingly contrary to this, or is it an all-out embrace of that fall richness?

Sebastian Brauer: These fall collections from Crate & Barrel and Crate & Kids were inspired by evoking the feeling of rich fall flavors, an anticipated highlight of the season, into a modern design aesthetic through colors, warm layers, and mixed materials. We've also seen continued interest in midcentury design from our customers so we looked to reinvigorate styles from [that] ever-trending era with a luxurious, yet livable twist.

What do consumers typically shop for in the fall?

Consumers want to make their homes cozier for the turn of the season. And a popular way people do this is refreshing their home's textiles. Incorporating cozy fall fabrics like knits and quilts in the living room and primary bedroom and swapping summer bedding for warmer, rich materials like a Terracotta duvet in kids' rooms are easy ways to do this. Parents are also preparing for their kids to go back to school, so there's a trend of purchasing desks, organization pieces, and backpacks.

What do you predict will be the best received new fall arrival?

Customers are still working to better utilize multi-use spaces and get excited about functional pieces that still lean into design trends like midcentury, so we're excited for people to bring pieces from the Tate Modular Storage Collection into their homes. And with the affinity for midcentury design, we think our new twist on this design aesthetic in pieces like the Verso Small Space Accent Chair will be well-received.

Stylish sustainability

Have you noticed a shift in consumers' habits and what they are looking for? Have they become more interested in comfort? Are they exhibiting more daring in their choices? Is there an increased desire for sustainable goods?

Consumers are seeking products that are built with purpose, from function and form to sustainability. We are committed to putting the well-being of people and the planet at the forefront of everything we do, and [we] recently announced our core goals and commitment to sustainability and this collection is no exception. We incorporated sustainable materials within the collections from both brands, including a recycled cashmere and vegan tan leather and FSC certified pieces, including the Rixby Swivel Recliner and Cambria Sofa. Crate & Kids new line of backpacks are made from recycled water bottles, and there are several Greenguard Gold certified furniture pieces including the Jenny Lind crib.

What do you believe will be the biggest style in decorating this fall? From a consumer standpoint, are we still in a neutral and modern farmhouse phase? Or are customers moving toward color or pattern? Possibly, there's another trend on the horizon, in your opinion?

Consumers are continuing to style their homes with neutral pieces, but venturing a bit bolder. And this season, we predict they'll incorporate a range of luxe fall colors inspired by seasonal flavors like turmeric, and lean in further to midcentury design. We've also seen an increased interest in layered textiles and mixed materials in furniture and décor.

Trending colors and materials

Is there a material or metal of the moment? Natural stone seems important and texture feels like a big component in fabrics. Why do you think organic and tactile materials have so much appeal right now?

Textured materials like velvet, boucle, and shearling are very popular in furniture and textiles while glass and ceramic are hot in décor this season, bringing a luxe feel to your home. Organic materials like cotton and vegan takes on classic textures remain on-trend as consumers seek out better for the planet products.

What are the trendiest colors for this fall? Some of Crate & Barrel's featured shades are very rich, with jewel tones and the new Brulee, that warm brown. There's also a retro '80s palette in the kitchen category. Can you tell us how to use some of the season's best colors and what to pair them with?

As mentioned, for fall we leaned heavily into translating seasonal flavors into a design aesthetic and a big part of this was through colors, with delectable shades of brown from ginger to brown sugar, like the Wells Leather Sofa. You'll also see a lot of deep, jewel tones inspired by nature in pieces like the Cambria Green Velvet Sofa from Crate & Barrel and the Lyric Swivel Glider and Ottoman from Crate & Kids. While all unique, the different trending colors for fall share an earthy tone, making it easy to layer them and mix textures and materials while still feeling cohesive.

Making the most of the season

Predictably, attention will be shifting to our interiors. But Crate & Barrel has a robust outdoor collection. Do you have any recommendations for making our outside spaces inviting as temperatures cool? What can we do to utilize them for as long as possible?

Adding items like a fire pit or outdoor pizza oven are perfect ways to extend the outdoor entertaining season into cooler fall months. I also encourage people to add warmer pillows and throw blankets to outdoor seating.

Is there a frequent mistake or a missed opportunity in decorating for this time of year, or in general, that you can help us out with?

You don't need to stick with one color palette or one theme; mixing and matching pieces can help create a custom design aesthetic for your home.

Can you suggest how to use some of our existing pieces or the things around us to create a cozy and nurturing environment in our homes this fall? If you could only choose one item we should have from Crate & Barrel to update our homes for the season, what would it be?

The great thing about this collection is that while there is a heavy focus on midcentury design, the majority of pieces will work seamlessly with existing pieces already within your home. Focus on easy ways to warm up your space through fall-inspired colors or materials across textiles and décor.

If I had to choose one piece from this collection, it would have to be one of the Calypso storage pieces, as there is so much you can do with this collection in the way of not only organizing your home in a beautiful way but displaying seasonal décor pieces and expressing your personal design aesthetic.

Find Crate & Barrel's The Fall Edit seasonal selections on their website.