Mermaid + Blobcore = Jellyfish Aesthetic, and We’re Ready

With wild geometry, deep-sea neon, glistening iridescent finishes and graceful flow, jellyfish-inspired decor is design’s new darling. Our pros will show you how it’s done.

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April 16, 2024

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Photo by: Doug Steakley/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images

Doug Steakley/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images

Trend forecasters report that the latest "-core" to reach design shores is all things jellyfish, and their appeal is easy to appreciate. The sometimes-venomous beauties combine high-drama color combinations (those stunning hues against oceanic blues!) and seaside serenity (it doesn’t get more effortless than just letting the current carry you). We’ve rounded up the very best ways to float like a jellyfish, sting like a … jellyfish. Ready to dive in?

THINK DELICACY AND INTRICACY

Jellyfish owe their statement-making silhouettes to their near-weightlessness in water, and the simplest and most dramatic way to channel that undersea chic is to deploy spectacular, tentacular glass.

Open Dining Room With Metal Table & Glass Blown Chandeliers

Glass Blown Chandeliers in Eclectic Dining Room

The custom-made glass blown chandelier and the acid-washed metal dining table create an eclectic modern feel in this dining room.

Photo by: S&K Interiors

S&K Interiors

Dale Chihuly’s Biomorphic Shapes

The art-world interpreter of all things cnidarian — "Cnidaria" being the animal-kingdom Phylum that includes swimming, stalked and box jellyfish, a classification to tuck away for trivia night — is Dale Chihuly, whose monumental blown-glass sculptures look like glorious sea beasties. Their installation in formal and traditional spaces demonstrate how beautifully unconstrained color and forms can offset more straitlaced shapes.

You may not be able to get your hands on a Dale Chihuly work, but any  kind of water feature instantly creates a focal point in the yard. This  focal point in the Atlanta Botanical Garden features Chihuly's Paterre  Fountain Installation, a sculpture of blue and white shapes that emulate  water, ice and sky.

Fountain Focal Point

You may not be able to get your hands on a Dale Chihuly work, but any kind of water feature instantly creates a focal point in the yard. This focal point in the Atlanta Botanical Garden features Chihuly's Paterre Fountain Installation, a sculpture of blue and white shapes that emulate water, ice and sky.

Photo by: Laura James

Laura James

Radial Symmetry Is Perfect for Pendants

Delicate forms that splay out from a central point are well and good for marine invertebrates and extremely high-end art, but is that breakable beauty really practical for the home? Absolutely; just take a page from Chihuly’s book and suspend it from the ceiling.

Visitors walk beneath glass floral shapes lit from behind in the Persian Ceiling. This lighting casts colored shadows on the walls and floors. Chihuly calls these forms "the Persians." He began this glass art series in 1986. The first Persian Ceiling was presented in his 1992 exhibition at the opening of the downtown Seattle Art Museum.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Persian Ceiling

Visitors walk beneath glass floral shapes lit from behind in the Persian Ceiling. This lighting casts colored shadows on the walls and floors. Chihuly calls these forms "the Persians." He began this glass art series in 1986. The first Persian Ceiling was presented in his 1992 exhibition at the opening of the downtown Seattle Art Museum.

Photo by: Photo by Dee Nash

Photo by Dee Nash

Start Small With an Accent

If you’re not ready to commit to a leviathan chandelier, dip a toe in the trend — or create your own aquatically inspired, multi-piece installation — with blown-glass bells like these.

Or, Catch the Sun With a Pearlescent Polyp

Handmade glass pedestal bowls like this one, in turn, are the perfect way to bring a bit of jelly to the breakfast table, where they’ll refract morning light and echo deep-sea shapes with their silhouettes. Look for one-of-a-kind pieces with irregular edges to make the most of the trend’s unfussiness; the look here is both brilliant and just a bit blorpy, like a surfacing bubble.

Invest in a Side Table

If you’re ready to graduate from accessories to jellyfish-inspired furniture, Glas Italia’s newly iconic table, designed by Patricia Urquiola in 2014, takes midcentury makers’ fondness for tempered glass and updates it with a futuristic sheen. Constructed with eight joined slabs and weighing in at 31 pounds, this ethereal piece is surprisingly substantial — and it pairs beautifully with rich, dark pieces like this armchair.

PLAY WITH JELLYFISH PRINTS

Jellies’ spectacular looks are as splendid in two dimensions as they are in three; consider, for example, this colorful, reef-inspired riff on floral wallpaper. If William Morris had also been a marine biologist, we can imagine him cooking up something like this.

Photo by: CB2

CB2

The pattern on this moody blue feature wall evokes the illustrations one might find in a Victorian sketchbook.

$140
York Wallcoverings

Employ Underwater Photography

Zooming in on a single jellyfish as a statement piece is equally effective, especially in a space that’s otherwise neutral. We love how this critter’s scale emphasizes how much it resembles a chandelier — and how its vivid environment contrasts with pale textiles in the rest of the room.

Den With Jellyfish Photo

Coastal Den With Jellyfish Photo

A small room is given two important jobs: den by day with a comfortable sofa in practical outdoor fabric; by night, a guest room. That sofa transforms into a queen bed!

Photo by: Ryan Garvin

Ryan Garvin

Jellyfish Underfoot? Absolutely!

Beach-stroll horror stories notwithstanding, you can walk all over these jellies without a care in the world. A tone-on-tone pattern like this one layers the design in a contemporary coastal bedroom. And as in that breakfast-room wallpaper above, it’s a delightfully unexpected alternative to a floral print.

By the way, if you do step on a jellyfish by accident, rinse the affected area with sea water, then rinse again with household vinegar or rubbing alcohol, per the Cleveland Clinic. Do not pee on it! (Seriously, they say that doesn’t help and might make the sting worse.)

Round Glass Coffee Table and Blue Jellyfish Rug

Round Glass Coffee Table and Blue Jellyfish Rug

Incorporating a sea life theme in accessories, prints, patterns, and graphics helps emphasize the coastal feel throughout this home. Love that jellyfish rug!

Photo by: Grace Blu Designs

Grace Blu Designs

Showering beside an on-trend jellyfish curtain also has no documented therapeutic significance, but it’s undeniably delightful.

SUGGEST TENTACLES WITH PLANTS

Double down on coastal accents by pairing a beachy glass vase with architectural, cascading stems like gracefully preserved amaranth. An unexpected arrangement like this one captures the delicate beauty of an undulating kelp forest or a lacy coral reef — and if you keep it clear of moisture and direct sunlight, it’ll last for ages.

Air Plants Mimic Aquatic Blooms

Mounted on plaques and tipping from terrariums, air plants like these are an equally clever way to layer a marine theme. To put an even finer point on their resemblance to jellyfish, try tucking tillandsia into sea urchin shells and suspending them in a glass cylinder.

Air Plants Hanging on a Wooden Door

Air Plants Suspended From a Wooden Door In a Greenhouse

While Ken Selody, former contributing editor for Martha Stewart, is a renowned topiary master, his greenhouse at Atlock Farm is filled with more than just shapely topiaries. On this wooden door inside the greenhouse is an array of air plants mounted on wooden hangers.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Christine Han

Christine Han

LEAN INTO BLOBCORE AND VINTAGE

Jellyfish are among nature’s most eye-catching maximalists and letting their looks inspire yours is all about leaning into freeform fabulousness. A design icon that just happens to echo their sultry swoop? The midcentury modern classic Panton chair.

Arched door into dining room with pastel retro furniture.

Eclectic Pastel Dining Room With Retro Furniture

“This room we decided to make a permanent dining room, and I am so happy — I love it so much,” homeowner Samantha Klein sighs. (It’s no accident that she says this about all her spaces; she’s worked hard for that joy!) “For the most part we eat meals at our table instead of the couch, which was the goal. Recurring seating, storage and seashell silhouettes carry through her rooms and reinforce the spaces’ cohesive character; keep an eye out for these themes, as you’ll see them again and again.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Marcus Meisler

Marcus Meisler

Find an Old-School Arc Lamp

It’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for similar curves at vintage stores and flea markets, where quirky pieces like this one boast creatures’ features.

Living room with curvaceous floor lamp, burlwood desk and peach sofa.

Eclectic Pastel Living Room With Vintage Accessories and Floor Lamp

Designer Katie’ Zamprioli's graceful lamp stands at the heart of her home’s design, literally and figuratively. “This vintage Nova of California double arc lamp is actually my favorite vintage find in my whole home,” she says. “[I]t inspired me to change up my entire room and really sparked my love of postmodern pieces.” Whether you’re surveying online sales or pounding the pavement for vintage and thrifted finds, Katie says, commitment is key. “If you’re going to find an amazing score you can’t expect to do it if you go once a week. You need to go several times a week and try to go on off days not on the busiest times during the weekend. Find out when your local stores restock and that’s the best day to go.” Is it a lot? Yes. Will your finds reward your work? Also yes.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Marcus Meisler

Marcus Meisler

Hang a Jelly-Inspired Mirror

Use an iridescent, acrylic piece like this one to loosen up the look of a gallery wall.

Or, Go Big With a Floating Ceiling

If you favor a more contemporary take on more-is-more curves, consider a floating ceiling like the one Sarah and Bryan Baeumler installed in this Florida home for Season 5 of Rock the Block. Created with custom material that shrinks when it’s heated to stretch tight over any shape, this feature is touted as the next big thing in lighting design. (Bonus points for the blobby sofa and coffee tables the Baeumlers arranged below it.)

Photo by: Bob Croslin

Bob Croslin

Customize an Umbrella

Social media’s favorite take on the jellyfish trend (Zendaya’s high-concept jellyfish haircut notwithstanding) is the festival-and-parade-ready DIY jellyfish umbrella, which can be as light-catching and frilly as you like, depending on how much you prioritize visibility with your all-weather accessories.

Bonnaroo Attendee Carrying Jellyfish Totem

Bonnaroo Attendee Carrying Jellyfish Totem

A Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival attendee spins an iridescent jellyfish totem.

Photo by: Jessica Yonker

Jessica Yonker

Fiber artists and gift-wrappers, know that saving your yarn and ribbon scraps to trim a piece like this one is a deeply satisfying upcycle (and an excellent way to help late-arriving friends figure out where you're picnicking in a crowd).

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