31 July 2017

The Future of Interior Design: Trends Shaping the Industry

Tech trends revolutionising the design world

The design world is having a huge transformation in our time, this sector (with all its disciplines) is getting a break from the past, evolving at an exponential pace under the fourth industrial revolution, which is happening now, bringing the physical, digital and biomimicry worlds together. Borders between different disciplines such as interior design, interaction and graphic design, product design and engineering are blurring, disrupting all the industries all over the world. Billions of people can now connect by mobile devices, and access to knowledge without limits, this is enhanced by the breakthrough fields of artificial intelligent, Internet of Things, 3D printing and more. Considering this, the question is: how this revolution, together with society changes, is going to influence our favourite discipline – interior design – and therefore our homes and way to live in the next 5 to 10 years?

“This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader

The Tiny House Movement: a Minimal and efficient life

With more and more people overcrowding cities (today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050) the issue of house pricing is compromising the purchase of people’s first home. To respond to this problems, the Tiny House Movement has arised in USA at the beginning of 2000s, expanding to Europe in recent years and giving a solution to an issue which is getting bigger and bigger, especially for the youngest generation.

A tiny house is a residential indipendent unit smaller than 42 mq, the interiors are usually well planned and efficient, built with green materials which help the reduction of consumes and consequently costs. The price of a tiny house varies from custom-built homes at £9,995 and kits from £6,500 on sale at Tiny House UK and Minim Homes, to the luxury ones like those by Muji. The movement started with the publication of Not So Big House book in 1997 by the architect Sarah Susanka, and got another push with by Shay Solomon’s Little House on a Small Planet, a book explaining the way to small scale living, as well as Put Your Life on diet by Gregory Johnson, on of the co-founders of Small House Society.

The biggest obstacle to own one is to find a green, available land where to build it, but once your tiny home is assembled, your heating and cooling costs will be very low thanks to the house size, and to the green technology (ex. Solar panels). You could also use incinerating toilets to help reduce water consumption, but even if you decide to connect to city power grid and water like a traditional home, energy and water consumption would be reduced. It is a simple, cheap and green way to live.

Homes will become smart and adapt to your needs

The tech revolution could be scary for some people, but this innovations are taking place because they give an answer to a crucial social change lead by Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 2000. This new generation, compared to the previous one of baby boomers, aims at speed, flexibility, collaboration, customization of furnishing. These needs reflect the instability of today’s life, and value Millennials give to experiences instead of ownership. That’s why smart homes are taking place. It is a home that uses an integrated domotic plant to improve comfort, security and comsumes. Users can switch on and off devices, optimize energentic loads and create situations tailored on personal preferences and habits, even managing devices with remote control (you will not be scared anymore to not have locked the door before to go out). Tech giants are constantly realizing new gadgets to make home more connected, such as Google Home which was released in 2016, a smart home control centre that acts as personal assistant, alarm and speaker. Just speaking to your Google Home device you can turn on and off heating, tv, or manage your agenda. In the Italian market SOMFY offers a complete house connection or focused services on automation of windows, accesses, and outdoor furniture.

New Realities: Virtual & Augumented

Probably you have already heard about VR, from gaming to healthcare it is becoming the protagonist of many industries, and it will grow over the next few years. As an interior designer I can say this is a great tool! Imagine you could walk your client into the new room you have just created, and let him/her change colours and textures from remote. VR is not accessible economically yet, it requires powerful computers to process and skilled designers confident with this new tools like Unreal Engine, in the meantime augumented reality could be a big help, fusing real world with digital one, overlaying the two and giving new prospective of a real space. You could lead your client at testing infinite wallpapers, colours, pieces of furniture or flooring just with a click through an app. It does not require and special tool, being a technology relatively simple you can use it as a tool for designers and stylists.

Green Design

As total world population is growing, the enviromental issues are getting bigger and bigger, so the awarness of consumers about sustainability. Ecology in design has taken many shapes so far, influencing many industries. Regarding interiors we can say the green-stream is shown in trends such as shabby chic, upcycling furniture, buying at local markets and seeking energy-efficient materials. What if an interior is not only beautiful, but has also got a conscience? These are the ways to go for it. An impressive case is the cabin made entirely by the photographer Nick Olson and the designer Lilah Horwiz, who rummaged windows from discard piles at antiques markets along NYC drives, to build a huge and charming façade for their cabin in the woods, and have light coming in all the time. All the interior was built the same way, from upcycled materials. A deeper look into the story of this amazing project in West Virginia can be found in this video.

This demonstrate how products are going to not have an end, after their use they can indeed be re-integrated into the production cycle and be part of a circular economy. Imagine if everything was designed to be restorative and regenerative: reused goes directly back to your users, refurbished comes back to you (as the service provider), remanufactured goes through the manufacturing process, recycled goes back to the materials processor. If that sounds interesting you can have a look at the Circular Design Guide.

Flat Packed Furniture

Frequent movers can’t justify a big expense for high end design, since those furniture pieces will be left behind. The solution to this problem is flat packed furniture, which can be assembled and disassebled more times, and be purchased online. If you are thinking to IKEA, you have to know there are companies that have made sturdier and sleerker flat packed furniture, which can resist to multiple moves, such as HEM, Normann Copenhagen, Campaign, Tylko.

The new role of designers

A new scenario for designer role development to virtual world. Many will say all this artificial intelligent automation will lead to a massive number of people lose their jobs. Augumented, and virtual realities, experience design and 3D print will explode, and they have to be seen as new opportunity and not as the end of everything. Change will introduce new professions, since skilled creative will be required to these new disciplines. Moreover traditional sectors as interior design will benefit from virtual words since new demand for this kind of work will be created. To stay up-to date with constant evolution of tech mediums, designers will mostly become self-learning, since this new knowledge will be easily outsourced from outside university and colleges, and real time learning will become more important then packed coursed. E-learning is making its way with platforms like Udemy, Coursera, Edx, or simply Youtube.