In a post-pandemic world, the home has become a haven, and consumers’ buying habits and preferences have evolved to reflect that mindset more than ever. That’s one of the key takeaways from trend forecaster Fashion Snoops’ new Future of Home report.
Forecasters at Fashion Snoops—which looks at micro and macro trends across societies and sectors including beauty, fashion and home—found that a number of issues, from sustainability to wellness, are converging to create this new idea of the haven of home.
“Items in the home are becoming smarter, and not necessarily in the tech sense, but primarily in the thoughtfulness that makes our lives easier,” said Jaye Anna Mize, vice president, home, Fashion Snoops. “Mindfulness and nods toward preservation are more top of mind as consumers become more aware of the overall impact goods have on our daily lives and values.”
One of the emerging trends Mize said is shaping design is neuroaesthetics. The concept explores the impact sensory-based design aspects such as color, light, texture and sound can have to create spaces that promote greater wellbeing for their inhabitants.
“Sensorial design will redefine immersive interiors,” Mize said. “We’re starting to see the focus on highly sensorial design that supports the flow of all five senses, which are key to consider when designing new spaces to trigger feelings such as coziness, comfort, calm or engagement.”
This approach to design also takes into consideration the needs of neurodivergent people, who often react to stimuli differently than neurotypical people. Eliminating or including certain textures, sounds, etc., play into this more thoughtful take on design.
“Accessibility has become a hot topic in design, as we see diversity, equity and inclusion conversations really changing the consumer landscape,” Mize said. “We are more aware of how a space can impact those who are neurodivergent.”
Mize said scientific research being conducted at universities such as Harvard will lend more credence to the idea of how elements of design can influence wellbeing.
“For the more modern product manufacturer or interior designer, the principles of neuroaesthetics seem obvious,” she said. “We in the design industry feel like we understand how color, shape and texture impact living spaces. However, what is key to this movement is this scientific backing, which gives true reasoning to the design methods.”
Improving wellbeing plays into the role of technology in the home, as well. The idea of a “smart home” has evolved from a space full of gadgets and screens to more discreet technology that analyzes data to make life easier and more comfortable.
“Data is being used to elevate everyday experiences for homeowners,” said Aurora Hinz, home strategist, Fashion Snoops. “From mattresses that track your sleep cycle to refrigerators that build your grocery list, fluidity with technology in the home ensures that any gadget you want will work in tandem with the rest of your life.”
And while a blowback against technology has arisen among the social media- and Zoom-fatigued masses in the wake of the pandemic, this new take on connectivity is designed to quietly improve life, rather than intrude on it.
“The rise of the connected home is happening at a time when consumers are craving less tech in their everyday lives, particularly with younger generations,” Hinz said. “These emerging home technologies work to blend into the background of our lives, creating more efficient solutions and not adding to our ongoing list of household chores.”
And while consumers want to improve their own lives, they also want to improve the state of the planet. The demand for sustainable home goods continues to expand further, with younger generations in particular pushing for circularity, carbon negativity and low-waste or no-waste lifestyles.
This push for more positive environmental impacts plays out in the home industry in a few ways. One is an exploration of new or re-imagined natural materials that can take the place of manmade products that carry a larger carbon footprint.
“The interest in alternative architectural and design applications of hemp, cork, algae and other living elements is really gaining momentum thanks to our shift toward circular materiality,” Mize said. “Future-proofing design by using regenerative, autonomous and climate-adaptive solutions will become increasingly important.”
Also important? Craftsmanship. And this focus on craftsmanship and artisans serves several purposes. One, it forces us to slow down and appreciate the process of handcrafting an item, often using natural or renewable materials and a reduced carbon footprint. At the same time, the growing focus on authentic artisanship and transparent, fair-trade production means more creators around the globe have an opportunity to share and make money from their talents.
“There really seems to be a craft renaissance sweeping through all markets of design,” Hinz said. “It’s bringing more diversity to the largest artisan economy we’ve ever been able to witness. Co-collaboration, democratized design and accessible resources have revitalized interest surrounding artisanal craftsmanship.”
The growing demand for handcrafted home goods also factors into the sustainability conversation. Hinz said the “Ikea era” of disposable furnishings is over, with consumers seeing value in investing in higher quality items.
“Consumers really prioritize longevity in design,” she said. “The days of disposable design seem as though they’re soon to be behind us, as consumers really search for furnishings that are built for longevity.”
And many of those consumers aren’t afraid to do a little maintenance or pay for repairs rather than throwing an item away and buying new.
“The addition of DIY care kits, buyback services and repair services offer new avenues for getting the most out of every purchase,” Hinz said. “Investing in extending the life cycle of home products keeps those items out of landfills, appealing to sustainably minded consumers.”
Whether its through handcrafted, high-quality furnishings, sustainably sourced materials or designs that promote wellness and comfort for all, consumers want home goods makers and retailers to provide the products they need to create that sense of haven in their homes.
“Consumers are looking for a more human-centric approach to their everyday living,” Mize said. “From nature-driven aesthetics to circular economy solutions, really look at how your brand can help consumers captivate their mindful intentions more authentically.”