As we prepare to enter not only a new year but a fresh decade, you may be wondering what design trends lie on the horizon. To find out, we polled five trend forecasters who are constantly looking at data and analyzing market shifts to identify what’s new and next.
According to these experts, if the last few years were defined by sweet pinks and brass fixtures, 2020 will shift into a slightly more subdued gear. But this reinterpretation of minimalism will be anything but boring: The next year will see a return to strong geometric forms (as one forecaster called it, “Neo-Deco”) as well as surprising interpretations of neutral hues.
The tea leaves also point to a marked shift in design values, trend forecasters predict, particularly in terms of sustainability. “We need to stop thinking about sustainability as a trend and approach it as an expectation and a demand from the consumer—an intrinsic requirement at all levels of the market,” says Gemma Riberti, head of interiors at WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors.
While sustainability might be top of mind, thankfully for those with a penchant for color, it’s not all jute and beige. Here’s what the forecasters have to say.
Mexican architect Frida Escobedo utilized blush-colored, hand-pressed brick in this minimal, yet warm, Aesop shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Designers take note: natural materials will be a key motif in the year ahead, according to experts. Photo courtesy Aesop
Call it a response to the societal chaos that 2019 has wrought, but in 2020, the idea of home-as-sanctuary will be stronger than ever. That translates as a kind of calm, pared-back, warm minimalism that Riberti describes as “lived-in yet refined.”
“We will move away from a culture of extreme polarities toward embracing a more harmonious outlook,” says Kai Chow, creative director at Doneger. “Humans are feeling a greater need to be connected to nature and you will see elements of the ‘great outdoors’ infusing interior design.” The cozy Scandinavian influence will endure with organic shapes and natural tones still key design elements, Chow and Riberti say. It’s all about materials with sustainability in mind—natural wood, recycled textiles, undyed yarns, and plush soft fabrics, along with warm terra-cotta earthenware for table accessories.
In Studio Shamshiri's Los Angeles office, the AD100 firm accentuated a dramatic arched entryway with a dusky mint-colored paint, a shade that, along with a host of other new neutrals, will become prevalent in 2020. Photo by Trevor Tondro
Following several years dominated by exuberant colors, Ellen Sideri, CEO of ESP Trendlab, anticipates that 2020 will bring a more subdued approach. “We see a transition into gorgeous warm neutrals that cleanse the palate and hint at the reemergence of tradition,” she says. Neutrals that are often relegated to the background—off-whites, tinted grays, earthy ochres, and tactile beiges—will instead step to the fore, continuing that reconnection with nature and authenticity.
For a refreshing tinted neutral, Riberti cites a soothing, muted version of “neomint,” a refreshing spearmint WGSN predicted as 2020’s It color, which pairs well with pale wood and can be used for accents like statement chairs, feature rugs, and kitchen schemes. Chow adds that slate lavender and dusky peach also work well for their “inherent simplicity” and ability to shift depending on the lighting.
Designers will be increasingly looking to Japan for inspiration next year, forecasters predict. Take this Japanese townhouse designed by architect Kengo Kuma. Here, a bamboo screen provides a translucent partition between the living and dining areas. Photo by Mcleod Robert
Given the trend toward soothing minimalism, it’s no surprise that the Japanese aesthetic will be a strong presence in 2020. “These looks are always present in some way, but periodically, they are energized as a trend,” says Michelle Lamb, editorial director at The Trend Curve. “Natural materials, used in simple forms, reinforce a feeling of purity that is at the core of this style.”
Beyond the rattan and cane that’s already made a comeback, Lamb highlights the wood-charring technique Shou Sugi Ban as a compelling texture for furniture and decor that speaks to eco sensibilities. She also expects to see angular furnishings and patterns that allude to origami folds as part of the trend’s influence, along with “kimonos or obi bands expressed in modern ways or inspiring shape, pattern, detail.”
Delicate floral patterns, like this Billy Cotton-designed rug for Scott Group Studio, will appear everywhere in 2020. But natural motifs won't be limited to florals: count on natural materials in furnishings and lightings also. Photo: Blaine Davis
It seems our collective yearning for getting back to nature will extend to home accents. But while the last few years may have included banana-leaf everything, this trend will, once again, manifest in a more subtle way. Think botanical prints, lush greens, and replications of wood grains and stone veinings for pillows, rugs, and upholstery, along with delicate wild flora and fauna motifs in homewares, experts say.
Even lighting will reflect a natural touch. “Look for organic structures in lighting with creative bases like metal and/or wood,” says Nancy Fire, creative director of Design Works International. “Tinted glass in handblown style allows imperfect shapes to take center stage, and organic substrates like rope, raffia, twine, and string are important because they bring a natural vibe into any interior space.”
For this room in Casacor, the Brazilian interior designer show house in Miami, Moniomi created an exuberant neo-Deco scheme that celebrates dusky neutrals as well as strong shapes. Photo: Kris Tamburello
Fortunately, for those who favor a brighter, edgier interior vibe, 2020 won’t just be about earthy tones and natural materials. Chow predicts that the bold colors and clean-cut lines of modernism will also dominate interiors, fusing “industry and craft, vintage and contemporary, high and low tech, color and geometry,” including recurring circle, rectangle, and stripe motifs. Furniture designs, he says, will take inspiration from the modular, multifunctional systems designed between the 1930s and 1960s.
Also drawing from the early 20th century, Riberti taps an updated take on the angular geometrics, cutouts, and patterns of Art Deco—she dubs it “neo-Deco”—for fresh, sophisticated interiors, combining tropical Miami pastels alongside the more traditional black and gold.