2022 brings with it a world of new possibilities: the way we design the places we work, play, and rest, as well as some wonderful new concepts that will help improve your lives. “What might these be,” you ask? Being able to observe the movements of the markets and the fluctuations from global and domestic changes is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is being able to point back to points in history when seismic shifts occurred, which better prepares you to predict a repeat of that history. The curse occurs when, based on that knowledge, you have expectations of one thing happening when other things could come unexpectedly from out of the blue. The most important thing for any of us is to be armed with information so that whether something is expected or unexpected, we are prepared and able to adjust accordingly.
On to the fun part. The coming trends resulting from being under a prolonged pandemic situation are welcomed ones for the most part. Has anyone complained yet about not having to travel as much for the meetings that are just as easily done via Zoom? Can we just pause and cheer for the increased family time or the increased attention to cleanliness (especially on planes)?
Prior to the pandemic, one of my forecasts about megatrends included “human-centered” design. Wellness was already in our talking points for 2019, and thus the importance of such was not thrown off its trajectory by the arrival of COVID-19, but rather boosted by it.
Megatrend #1 must remain “human-centered” design, where the very objects we use in our home and/or workplace must not be only cleanable, but they now also should add to our indoor air quality. Hence the addition of live green plants in our design plans. Indoor air quality is further improved by having more doors and windows that are opened easily for fresh air flow and general “outdoor” living. Add to that the often-overlooked detail that sunshine is one of nature’s best antiseptics. Control of fresh air and sunlight is essential, as well as taking steps to maintain privacy in urban areas, so you can expect to find more motorized blinds and movable or sliding doors to outdoor areas.
Megatrend #2 is a direct result of #1, and that is, outdoor living spaces are more and more important not just at home, but also at work. As we all have migrated back in varying degrees to either work, school, sporting, or social events, we can recognize better what it feels like for our souls to mingle with one another. Outdoor gathering spaces that 20 years ago would have been used by smokers now are being designed for healthy purposes. The need for human, actual social connection is part of our mental wellness requirements. Sometimes we don’t fully appreciate our basic needs until we are forced to live without them. The human connection is an essential need that even the biggest introvert can admit that they miss and want back.
Megatrend #3 is our increased demand for natural materials. This is why we have seen a surge in consumers asking for authentic real hardwood floors, walls, and furnishings. Whether new or old, natural materials today can be enhanced by advancements such as waterproof technology. The growing understanding of how this technology affects their flooring decision has been a slow but steady learning curve by both designers and consumers. While waterproof, spill and scuff-proof hardwood flooring isn’t bulletproof, it does offer the end-user a greater peace of mind that spilled coffee, dog piddles, or a forgotten wet towel won’t ruin the beauty of their hardwood floors.
Megatrend #4 multi-purpose rooms are not new, but better known and described as “flex space.” Today we need rooms to work for a variety of people’s needs. Today’s homes may require a room that can double as both an at-home classroom for homework, as well as a work-from-home office. Wireless internet is a must, and multiple charging ports are as well. In other words, today’s version of a study is used by children, parents, or even more senior family members.
Additionally, the American Society of Interior Designers finds that: “Currently, 20 percent of the American population is living in a multigenerational household, compared to 12 percent in 1980, and demand for multigenerational housing accommodations vaulted in popularity, from 41 percent in 2019 to 54 percent in 2020.” With this visible increase, home workspace designs will need to consider each generation – Generation Alpha and up – of students and workers within the home.”
Finally, megatrend #5 is “sustainable living” overall. We have in previous trend reports pointed to the return to vintage brown wood furniture, out of necessity, due to delays in supply chains, people relocating, and overall the greater acceptance of “grandma’s” furniture, bringing with it the “grand millennial” style. Beyond that is a mindfulness to choosing wisely, with furnishings that are either repurposed, recyclable, or made of “green” materials. Mindfulness is part of an overall approach to living…living, thinking and behaving differently, wisely and with health and the environment first and foremost in mind.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of Emily Morrow Home in Dalton, Georgia, and an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866.775.3877.