The Neon Lighting Trend Is Growing — And It's Not As Intimidating As It Seems
Here’s how to make it work.
When you think of neon lights, a few things probably come to mind — dive bars and tourist destinations like Las Vegas and Times Square, among them. These days, though, the look is making a new name for itself. Pinterest named neon rooms one of the top trends of 2021, noting in a report earlier this year that there was an eightfold increase in searches year over year for “neon room” and a threefold increase in searches year over year for “LED light signs.” That’s right: No longer is this look reserved for clubs or questionable dining locations. In 2021, neon lighting is taking over the humble home — and in a big way.
Jeremy Cortial, the co-founder of neon sign brand Yellowpop, confirms this explosion of interest for neon lighting as decor. “Since we launched in 2018, we have seen a 400 percent increase in growth year on year, and especially last year with the boom of TikTok,” he tells TZR in an email. And though the company’s start — and success — began well before the pandemic, Cortial unsurprisingly attributes the trend’s growth in large part to the effects of the past year.
“As we’ve all been spending the majority (if not all) of our time at home, more and more consumers are turning to neon to switch the vibe up and bring a welcome dose of optimism, energy and play to their space,” he explains.
That said, the co-founder believes that it’s due to something slightly unexpected, as well. “Even more interesting is that a high-proportion of our audience is self-employed. With this shift, it’s safe to say that as people explore their creative and entrepreneurial passions, they are starting to incorporate those passions into their homes and office spaces as well.”
Regardless of the reason behind its boom, it’s safe to say it’s here to stay for a while. You only have to look at TikTok (or honestly, down your street) to know that seemingly every Gen Z-er alive has turned their bedroom into a neon-lit oasis. Kendall Jenner has a neon pink sign by Tracey Emin and an LED James Turrell ovoid wall sculpture on the walls of her home. Bright, punchy quotes light some of the coolest restaurants and cafés in the world.
The thing is, though — popular or not — neon lights can be intimidating. Not only are they just, well, bright; they also bring a certain vibe to a space that’s not always easy to work with. That’s not at all to say you shouldn’t try them in your space. Far from it, in fact! However, don’t proceed without some advice from the pros — including a few tips that TZR has broken down, ahead.
Yes, massive signs can look cool — but if you’re not sure about how to incorporate the look, you don’t have to make it an obvious addition. “For those hesitant about the trend, the good thing about neon is that a small, yet vibrant, sign can go a long way in terms of introducing a pop of color and playfulness into any space,” explains Cortial.
Make It Special
When choosing or designing a sign, the Yellowpop co-founder suggests starting with what brings you the most joy. “That is always the basis of each of our artist collaborations and we encourage everyone to take the same approach when customizing their own neons,” he says. “Whether it be an uplifting quote, your favorite food or an original design — it’s your home, the objects inside of it should be a reflection of you.”
And don’t worry — that doesn’t have to mean something impressive or philosophical. “I recommend using a saying that resonates with you,” Jessica Davis, principal designer at JL Design, tells TZR. “For example, I was gifted a sign that says, ‘Just Love,’ because this is often a phrase I use with friends and family. Make it meaningful!”
Approach It Like Art
According to interior designer Brianne Bishop of Brianne Bishop Design, you should treat your neon light or sign like artwork. This means ensuring it pops — you do want people to see it, after all — and choosing an accent color to tie the piece into the rest of the room. Additionally, make sure it speaks to and evokes “an emotion that you desire,” she continues. Like a painting on your wall, it will feel more intentional if it’s not chosen or designed completely at random.
Choose A Complementary Color
Though you can choose a sign in the room’s accent color, Davis says she also loves going monochromatic or complementary with lights. “For example, if your room is full of cool grays and blues, pop a neon blue sign or go with a bold orange or pink.”
Find The Right Spot
It probably seems like neon lights could make an impact anywhere, but according to Davis, there is an art to placing yours correctly. “Let the sign stand alone in a quiet corner or mix it with timeless pieces like a group of oil paintings,” she says. And if you want to avoid the young “dorm room” aesthetic? “Keeping the sign away from areas that feel too ‘casual’ will help ‘elevate’ the look.”
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