As 2021 begins, it is time to look ahead and start making plans for this new year. But how does one make plans after such a weird year and so much uncertainty?
That’s why rather than making plans, I prefer looking at current trends and into our own experience to identify the signals of potential changes. Last week we reported about the trends for 2021 in the UK with Cottagecore topping the ranking.
To follow up on this, I thought I’d go myself in-depth into how Interior Design will change in 2021 from the perspective of us professionals working interpreting what I’ve seen so far. Let’s start:
1. AR, VR & APPS
This is something that has been developing for quite a while now, but only in the last year or so (pushed by Covid forcing us in lockdown) has really become a major factor in new design and architectural developments. I am talking of course about Augment Reality and Virtual Reality, which will be the next big players in this sector one way or the other.
*Microsoft Hololens Interior Space Projection Source: Microsoft
There are numerous implementations of these two technologies that are already revolutionising the industry. Apps such as MagicPlan allow you to create a floor plan or layout easily through the camera without having to draw or measure, which is extremely useful for someone who is not professional or hasn’t specific equipment.
Other applications like Houzz instead, through AR, allow users to place furniture pieces in their rooms and choosing them from a vast library of options. It is even scanning existing ones to find similar pieces.
2. HIGH-END E-DESIGN
The idea that e-design should be a cheap service, limited to the concept phase, is a thing of the past.
Now every designer has to adapt to remote work which made e-design a necessity also for boutique interior design firms that were still only offering an in-person service. At A Designer at Heart, we were ready for this, since we developed projects all over Europe and set up the company in a way that facilitated the switch to fully remote work. For instance, we never used physical servers, but always kept our database on the cloud.
Some still look for a full service when approaching a designer and this meant that everyone had to adapt to e-design and find alternative solutions. E-design used to be a partial service where a designer would stop at the concept phase, adding some FF&E specs or guidelines, and it was then the client’s responsibility to implement it. Now we are seeing creative solutions so that designers can be involved in the whole process remotely.
Another major factor to never discount when it comes to interior design is the review of samples. And now it has to happen remotely as well. It can take a lot more effort and involve a lot of parcels being sent around countries.
More than that though, it’s affecting the way companies present their products. Rather than investing in physical showrooms, they’ll need to improve the online experience so that designers can find every single item listed on the website. Obviously, nothing can replace the first-hand experience of trying a sofa in person but there are ways to facilitate the process at a distance. Improving communication is one of them. Once again technology is likely to supply new tools to avoid this issue.
4. COLLABORATION BETWEEN SERVICE PROVIDERS
This is a topic that is very close to me and my company, and it is also an important reality today. The collaboration between small companies and freelancers. It is still quite experimental, but I believe that in the future every person will have to rely more and more on its personal brand (especially those working in the service sector), and we are already seeing a huge increase in people choosing to be self-employed to fully adopt this lifestyle.
As a small business owner, I love working with other freelancers. My strong network means that I can delegate things to trusted people all over the world. And the more we improve our networks the better it gets.
When I was a freelancer myself, I have been supporting bigger companies in China, being for example their ‘tester’ in London for brands that didn’t have a showroom in China. Collaboration in this sense can kill the physical barriers. Now if I am stuck in a country because of the pandemic or simply because I fancy living there for a while, but I have a project in a different city I can just delegate tasks such as taking measurements on-site or testing the above-mentioned sofa to a local freelancer with my same taste and values.
Obviously, this process has its risks and should be based on trust but, if anything, this highlights the importance of nurturing a solid network and promote integrity. Last but not least, it’s an activity that leads you to meet lots of interesting and talented people.
5. FLUIDITY & FLEXIBILITY
These will be the defining words of interior design in 2021 in my opinion. Together with sustainability and biophilia, even though, in my mind, these two should already be a must for any responsible individual (clients and designers). The need for fluidity was already becoming a trend in the past years as technology advanced, but the pandemic made it a necessity and a trend that I believe is here to stay.
The reason why I mention fluidity, which is also called ‘blended living’, is that people nowadays expect to do everything in the same space. Eat, live, sleep, work, exercise, socialise, and more, are all things that we got used to doing from home. In the future, it would make sense for people to expect to do all these from any hospitality or retail venue. This is already happening in some forward-thinking hotel chains, like The Hoxton or Selina, targeted to Millennials that already have functioning restaurants and bars which are used by locals (not just the hotel guests) and have now started to integrate proper co-working areas within their offer. Other examples of blended living solutions are The Student Hotel (integrating short-stay hotel experience with long-stay PBSA-Purpose-built student accommodation) or OurDomain by Greystar to name a few.
What does this all mean in the end? I think that Companies that will be able to adapt to this fast-changing world by opening up to collaboration and being flexible will succeed. The process now has to be based on constant research of the latest innovation.
It can be really tiring, both from a creative and management perspective, but this is the only way to innovate and the results are very often well worth the effort. As someone wiser than me said once, we have to “stay Hungry” and why not, “stay foolish” too!