May 5, 2022

Q&A: Interior Design Trends and the Responsibility of Today’s Designers

Building Industry Trends

More Than Meets the Eye

While colors, textures, and styles are all important for interior design, designers are also responsible for the comfort, health, safety, and wellness of the inhabitants that dwell in these spaces.

BLD Marketing sat down with president-elect of the 2022 Georgia ASID chapter, Tara Rae Hill, ASID, RID, and creative director and owner of LittleFISH Think Tank, a multi-dimensional creative solutions studio, to discuss the importance of interior design, the trends to watch for now and in the future, and the responsibility that interior designers have when designing for people.

QUESTION: What are some of the leading interior design styles in the space right now?

ANSWER: Well, that’s a difficult question to answer because it is very different per market segment. But one of the biggest trends following the COVID-19 pandemic is anything that demonstrates wellness, rejuvenation, serenity, or personal health – spaces that help provide some respite from everything going on in the world. And that transcends all ages from young people with wanderlust and a desire to reduce their footprint to seniors who are seeking more preventative medicines and rejuvenating spaces.

QUESTION: What textures and colors are popular?

ANSWER: When we get into residential interior design, it is a lot of palettes that represent wellness and peace: Denim, earth tones, terra cotta, sages, flesh tones, and warm whites.

Many of the “top colors of the year” identified by leading paint groups were nature-based greens, such as light, soothing herbal greens or even darker tones that remind us more of cilantro or olive.

“Touchy” textures are also exceedingly popular and we’re continuing to see trends emerge that are following the handcraft movement. Some of these popular materials are wools, large knit, and linens.

Incorporating nature into our indoor spaces is a trend that is only growing in popularity. Think oak woods, stones, river rock, and plants as well as materials and products that mimic nature such as vein-patterned engineered quartz.

QUESTION: How is interior design evolving in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic?

ANSWER: Designers are prioritizing surfaces and products with the ability to be cleaned easily or opting for materials that are inherently antimicrobial to slow the spread of germs and diseases. This is vital in the healthcare sector but it is gradually becoming more important in all markets, including hospitality, food and beverage, and even residential.

In addition, wood laminates are becoming quite popular again for their ability to be cleaned daily without destroying the surface’s aesthetic. I suspect the use of these products, along with solid surfaces and engineered stone, will continue to rise universally. It’s quite possible that we have arrived at a time when every market outside of healthcare is going to be faced with the same reality that hospitals faced during the pandemic.

We anticipate the need for more hygiene within all of our public spaces and for this to also affect how we detail materials. Therefore, certain sectors are taking a page from healthcare design, which for decades has been a good steward for controlling the spread of pathogens within its interiors.

All markets should be striving for material details that have less seams and crevices such as the elimination of 4-inch-high backsplashes and mitering veneer-type cladding materials on 90-degree corners. Both of these provide the ideal environment for the spread of viruses and bacteria. When designing spaces, it is also important to consider non-porous materials that can withstand rigorous cleanings with harsh disinfectants.

It is one of the biggest trends that we as designers have our eye on.

QUESTION: How is technology playing a role in interior design?

ANSWER: Technology is being folded into everything that we do, and the world of interior design is no exception. Smart technology is taking the form of talking (and listening) appliances and remotes as well as giving owners video and audio access to their homes from remote locations.

Convenience and safety are two of the biggest factors for smart home technology. It also ties into the conversation about hygienic spaces, such as smart sensors so that sink handles never need to be touched by the user.

QUESTION: How is the ongoing push for sustainability affecting the interior design industry?

ANSWER: At this point, sustainability is not a trend. It is the next path that humans need to take for survival purposes. If you are a manufacturer, you are responsible for what you produce and put on to planet earth from A to Z. This could mean instituting reclamation programs so products do not fall into landfills and having processes in place for materials to be upcycled for reuse or fully closed-loop recycled.

Thankfully, today’s designers are very serious about sustainability, especially those designing commercial publicly shared spaces. If a manufacturer does not meet their vertical sustainability standards, many architects or designers will simply go with a manufacturer that does. In fact, all of the major architecture and design firms have incorporated initiatives that require their architects and designers to specify products that are determined to not have processes or materials that are harmful to Mother Earth and humans.

QUESTION: What’s next for the future of interiors?

ANSWER: In a post-pandemic world and after a very tumultuous two years where people around the world lost livelihoods and loved ones, my hope is that architects, interior designers, and owners better understand the connection between how we design and detail our publicly shared spaces (homes, too) and the outcome it has on health and safety. We have now witnessed how easily a deadly pathogen can enter our communities and spread at lightning speed. Luckily, we have the knowledge and means to design our interiors to greatly reduce the spread of deadly germs - and so, I’d like to see every market sector, not just healthcare, play a more active role in this effort.

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