Are you confused about interior design trends? Would you like to know who decides these things and why? What about really looking into the future to see what’s coming up and how it can help you help your clients and grow your business?

For years I have been thinking of future trends and what lay in store for me and the world at large. But it can be difficult to decipher, and there are too many voices telling you their version of trends without looking at the bigger picture. The trick is to know your strengths and apply them to the given trends of the time.

If you’ve ever done one of those tests, those psychometric tests where you answer a volley of questions, you’ll know that at the end it tells you the traits and strengths of your personality. I did a test one evening.  Answering all 71 questions very honestly.  My top two traits? Futuristic and Strategic.  I was not surprised by this outcome.

I look at trends with a keen eye and with a fascination for what is coming ahead whether that is in interior design or in the world in general. I would say that I’m not someone who thinks too deeply about the minutiae of the world,  but when it comes to trends,  looking forward to the next year, two years or 5 years, then I am overwhelmingly hooked into any conversation that explains the forthcoming ideas and likelihoods.

You should be too as they can help or hinder your business.

Why do people follow interior design trends?

The thing about trends is that although people do not like being thought of as followers or sheep, they instinctively need reassurance that their choices are the right ones and will work for them, their families and their lifestyles.  This is why the role of an interior designer is such a psychological role and not just a project manager bringing all aspects of modern interior design together.

How can interior design trends help your business?

 Interior Design blogs often list very basic trends that are already in the public domain and that are known generally in the industry. But if you go into the detail of how trends are forecast, the work is being done by men and women on the ground; deciphering these trends and making them coherent for you and I; the consumers and the spectators.
Who does these forecasts well?
There are a few well-known places online that do the industry forecasting for future trends, one of which is interior design. Most come with a financial fee that is payable before you learn what trends are really up and coming. But you can still sometimes get a glimmer of what’s in store for us all by the bullet pointed breakdowns on their websites or from interviews they have given to recent publications. Let’s look at some of the main players..

Lidewij Edelkoot – one of the biggest brains on trend forecasting is the formidable Li.  She has been forecasting trends for decades.  I remember reading a magazine interview on her, many years ago, and it conveyed just how much she was revered in the forecasting world.

Find her here: Li Edelkoort
Faith Popcorn (yes that’s her real name!), has been forecasting trends from her Brain Reserve business in New York for many years and in 1981 coined the mega trend ‘Cocooning’ – the need for people to hunker down in their homes and wrap themselves away from the worrying world outside. This trend is still going strong and has spurned many mini trends from it..

Find her here: Faith Popcorn

WGSN stands for World Global Style Network and they’re pretty much masters at their art.  Tapped into every visual design industry, they have a huge workforce that monitors up and coming and changing trends over fashion, interiors, lifestyle, technology, culture and arts.

There used to be another heavyweight brand called Stylesight that specialised in corporate clients such as the big US department stores.  But Stylesight merged with WGSN at the beginning of 2014.

Find WGSN here: WGSN
For reading material – take a look at the blog and books of Richard Watson. Notably ‘Future Minds’ and ‘Future Files’.

Find him here: Richard Watson

Breaking Interior Design Trends Down

‘Trend’ is a word that is quite ambiguous.  People get confused as to what is a trend of the year and what are the ongoing (Super Trends) – as well as micro trends, counter trends, flash trends, mega trends, mini trends and the like.

Trends of the Year – these are the recognised trends that forecasters can see coming up and have noticed designers, manufacturers, style setters, youth and society are graduating towards.

Design example: Colour – global colour authority house Pantone surprised the design folk by choosing two colours for the 2016 Colour of the Year. The pastel pink Rose Quartz and powder blue Serenity may seem strange bedfellows but to Pantone they signify a move towards fluidity and gender equality.

Flash Trends – these don’t last very long but you’ll notice them appearing everywhere in response to celebrity endorsements, seasonal weather, political events and popular dialogue, online and off.

Design example: Throws – in order to change and update your living room, a random square of fabric was added to create colour contrast and to add texture.  Now seen, predominantly, as a move to enliven a flat, neutral palette scheme (that was undoubtedly chosen to represent the Neutral Colour Interiors trend!), it was also a move to show individuals’ design skills.

Super Trends – these are trends that are ongoing. They generally stay with us for a few years before boredom sets in and they morph into something else.

Design example: Glass Pendant Lighting – hand blown, mouth blown, frosted.. Ye olde drum lampshade is a thing of the past as sculptural clear or coloured glass took hold a number of years ago and shows no sign of abating.  It may be more expensive, but rarely does a week go past without a client requesting glass pendants for their homes.

Mega Trends – these are seismic trends that last ten, twenty, thirty years and spawn a whole host of micro trends.  They outweigh Super Trends as they affect whole swathes of continents as they are emotional, fundamental and transformative.

Design Example – Cocooning – see Faith Popcorn, above

Micro trends – these are the offshoots of Mega Trends and are the result of the population adapting to the mega trends. A sort of cause and effect. Some Micro Trends become mainstream if they catch on and work for the majority of the population.

Design example – Ikat fabric. This appeared from one design trend (sustainability) and this simple printing method became a symbol of recycling, naturalness and ethics.

Counter Trends – these are the inevitable backlashes to trends that occur when groups don’t want to be seen as ‘normal’ or pigeon-holed by the mainstream media or forecasters.  Almost exclusively created online, they start underground as ‘movement’ and become mainstream when enough people buck the original trend – much to the disgust of the ‘counter trender’!

Design example: Shabby Chic – whilst the rest of the world went minimalist, sleek and aspirational, people protested that this was a ‘cold’ environment, not how they lived and demonstrated just how homespun they were by white washing furniture (upcycling anyone?) and crafting curtains from Granny’s trunk in the attic.

The trouble was, people bought into the comforting aspect (see Cocooning) and it was further bolstered by the recycling phenomenon.  Soon everyone could buy and do shabby chic.

Mini Trends – these are the short term trends that appear each year and hang about for a few months.  Similar to Flash Trends but without the hype, they appear as if by magic in all the shops (who can adapt with hours to something catching the zeitgeist) only to be over and done with almost as soon as they’re noted.  Mini trends are noticed keenly by forecasters as they can be an indication that a yearly trend has legs to become a Super Trend for the years to come.

Design example: Digital Home Services  – with the launch of Google Home, Apple Home and Amazon Echo’s emergence into the mainstream and steady growth for Wi-Fi enabled domestic controllers such as Nest, this trend will no doubt go global as its trustworthiness grows and more people use their smart phones to control their home services.

Now you know what the trends look like, let’s explore what you have just witnessed in 2016.

Perhaps the best way to understand trends is to look at the past and then look to the future to see the transition from one trend to the next.

What Trends of the Year did 2016 have?

Metallic Finish: Copper

This was undoubtedly an interior design trend that originated in 2015 after some years in the wilderness.  Such a warm and inviting metallic was sure to come back in fashion and in 2015 it burst onto the scene and was gratefully purchased by many an interior designer – sick of the urban stainless steel that had pervaded the interior design industry for so long.  In 2016, the mainstream retail outlets caught onto Copper and it was featured everywhere.  Some are still embracing it (I don’t blame them) and some are finding new ways to incorporate it.  See Ted Todd’s copper parquet flooring which is a super addition to their range.

Colour: Pink

Pantone comes out with a ‘colour of the year’ annually and their choice for 2016 was Rose Quartz and Serenty (a pale blue).  Rose Quartz was then re-blogged as Millennial Pink.   This was not a sickly pink, in fact, it was almost a plaster pink, a dusty pink. This old rose tone not only encompasses the warm and inviting message that home dwellers are looking for but also builds on the more formal elegant trend that is having a resurgence of late.

Word: Hygge

This is a Danish word that I cannot pronounce (let’s go with ‘higgy’!) and actually that doesn’t matter; it’s meaning is far more important.  It means ‘cosiness’ in English.  Effectively this is almost a by-trend of Cocooning (see below). But for you and I, practically, this means lots of texture, lots of wools, sheepskin, low/ambient light and warmth. Think of sitting curled up with your chunky throw draped over your legs with a plush pile rug at your feet with jasmine scented candles burning away whilst you watch the Downton Abbey box set.  That’s you getting Hygge with it. (Sorry)

Given these trends are sooo last year, what trends are we expecting from 2017?

Interior Trends for