Spray Foam Decor Is Highly Controversial—and It’s Taking Over Instagram

published Aug 27, 2020
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Katie Zamprioli's pink bathroom remodel that features a foam stool

Have you noticed anything… squishy going on in your Instagram feed? As in, foam-covered, baby pink foam mirrors decorating walls, neon orange benches adding pops of color to lonely hallways, and goopy stools filling empty bathroom corners.? These fluffy, offbeat creations have been popping up on my feed, and maybe this home decor trend has infiltrated yours, too.

At first glance, these pieces look kind of like third grade art projects, and that nostalgia might be part of their appeal. Their palettes are often light, bright, and airy, which jibes with a lot of the ’80s and ’90s retro designs that are coming back around. But as they’re as polarizing as they are playful and out-of-the-box. For anyone who doesn’t like playing it safe with their design aesthetic, spray foam furnishings just might be the ideal accent to refresh a room. 

Foam furniture began its ascent to the top of the design world earlier this spring, with many crediting Copenhagen-based designer Anna Thoma as being one of the first to popularize the trend. Designer Gustaf Westman started making “popcorn benches” around this time, as well. Other artists and makers have riffed on the trend, too: Jude Camden’s sculptural pieces seem to be inspired by sea foam, and ceramicist Grace Bennet sells vases that look like tiny lava-drenched volcanoes. So there might be some connection of these pieces to nature, too, albeit a highly stylized, abstract one.

Designer Katie Zamprioli from Candy Colored Home first came across these sculptural pieces six months ago on Westman’s Instagram page. She didn’t acquire her first foam item until a few months ago; she now has three Bennet pieces: a vase, a mirror, and a stool. “They are super weird and kind of ugly, but ugly can be so beautiful to me!” Zamprioli says. “I have a Brussels Griffon, so I’m drawn to ugly/cute. The stool is my favorite piece because it’s so unusual looking.” After spending months searching for the perfect piece to complete her bathroom redesign, she settled on this stool mainly for its thought-provoking, quirky form.

Let’s talk about that bathroom stool for a minute, which is pictured above. When Zamprioli shared her finished bath on Instagram, the foam stool was the one part of the decor that proved to be very polarizing in the comments. “People either love it and ask me where I got it or tell me it’s the ugliest thing they’ve ever seen,” she says. “I’ve had people tell me it looks like it was left on the bottom of the ocean for a thousand years or that it ruined the entire design of the bathroom.” Zamprioli doesn’t sweat the criticism either way. “I just laugh at the negative comments,” she says. “All I can say is ‘They don’t get it.’ That’s ok!”

Credit: Raneil Sokhi

Raneil Sokhi, the founder of BulaBulã, a jewelry and home accents brand, first discovered the trend on Instagram in March through an Australian influencer, Flex.Mami, who has also helped popularize this trend. After being inspired by Thoma’s work, Flex.Mami posted a tutorial on how she DIYed her own pink mirror, and Sokhi tried it out. She posted the finished piece onto her stories, and so many followers inquired about it that she decided to make some for her brand. 

When asked what she likes about foam furnishings’ “ugly” appearance, Sokhi wasn’t keen on that choice of words. “I prefer the term ‘different’ or ‘visually interesting,’” she says. “But yes, the clumsy appearance of the foam has created a debate amongst the public—I guess you either love it or hate it!”

For Zamprioli, investing in foam pieces has helped her place stand out in a sea of sameness, at least for the moment, because the needle is always moving when it comes to trends. “I am so drawn to pieces that evoke emotions and create drama,” she says. “I love thinking about the person that created them and what went through their mind at the time. I want you to look at my house and see my unique style and taste and for it to make you smile and want to be creative!”

t’s the perfect trend to incorporate if you like things that are a little offbeat and quirky, even if it’s polarizing for some of your (future) house guests! The only major caveat: Don’t try to DIY these kinds of spray foam insulation pieces at home without proper facial protection (safety goggles and a mask), gloves, and the level of ventilation you can really only get from being outside.