Article Written by Lisa Peck, ASID

As interior designers we often find trends to be both friend and foe. While we enjoy and benefit from new trends driving changes in our client’s homes, many of us also strive to design spaces that are “timeless.” What’s a designer to do? Understanding what is driving trends, and the difference between a trend and a fad can help you stay ahead of the trends and create environments that last for decades. Knowing and understanding the cycle of trends arms designers with the knowledge to create environments on trend that will last for years to come.

Trend vs. Fad

What makes something a trend and how do you help your clients avoid fads?

Trends are a response to the overall economic, political, environmental, and societal climates our clients are being influenced by in their lives. Look around and see what the outliers and early adopters are doing, what they are doing might be the start of a trend. By the time something appears in a national magazine and is defined as a trend it is in the middle of its cycle.

Top lifestyle trends that are influencing our market today:

  1. Wellness and Sustainability
  2. Escapism — The New Cocooning
  3. Restored Essentials — Simplicity
  4. Smart Home
  5. Chaotic World and Time as the Most Valuable Commodity

According to IDC, the worldwide Internet of Things (IoT), the market spending will grow from $591.7 billion in 2014 to $1.3 trillion in 2019 with a compound annual growth rate of 17%. The installed base of IoT endpoints will grow from 9.7 billion in 2014 to more than 25.6 billion in 2019 — hitting 30 billion in 2020. (citation

Forecasts show the economic growth to be at the same pace through 2018 and slowing considerably in 2019.

Tips on who to follow on Pinterest to keep up with trends in home building and design sector:

  • Trend bible
  • Pantone
  • Frame as “themes” instead of “trends”


Trend #1: Serenity Now


  • Growth in wellness industry
  • Popularity of books like Spark Joy and The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and blogs on minimalism
  • Increasingly complex world, technology, time constraints
  • Reaction to economic uncertainty of recent past
  • Reactionary response to dystopian entertainment
  • 2016 colors of the year Serenity and Rose quartz are harbingers of this trend, meaning they are announcing the trend!

Key Aesthetics

  • Clean lines
  • Simplicity
  • Neutral color palette with soothing pastels
  • Reliance on texture over color
  • Minimalism


Trend #2: Maker Nation


  • Growth in other maker markets. Craft beer.
  • Shows like New York Now featuring an entire Handmade floor
  • Popularity of websites like Etsy, Pinterest and craft movement and brands such as Shinola
  • Slow food and locally grown made movements
  • Embraces desire for brands and products to “be real”
  • Reactionary against technology
  • Reactionary against fast fashion and lifestyle furniture (buy for look and dispose of soon)

“Craft isn’t a niche or fad. People want to be in the business of making things again. They care where products come from. And sometimes they just want watches to tell time,” said Bridget Russo, CMO of Shinola.

“The craft movement is our response to the actions of giant corporations, who took over and watered down products. It’s been a long road to readjusting palettes. With craft beer, now that the genie is out of bottle people won’t return to drinking mass market brands,” John Kimmich, co-founder of The Alchemist brewery, stated. (citation Adweek “Here’s why Craft products are experiencing a resurgence nationwide” 3/2016.)

Has any one else noticed the macramé popping up all over Instagram? This movement isn’t going anywhere but it has matured, as demonstrated by the recent write up in USA today. (citing

Key Aesthetics

  • Handcrafted quality
  • Reclaimed material
  • Imperfection embraced
  • Wood
  • Copper
  • Leather in natural tones
  • Rough hewn
  • Forged metals (wrought iron)


Trend #3: Urban Vibrant


  • Global movement toward urban centers
  • Strain on infrastructure and tax bases during economic downturns highlight need for centralization
  • Interest in sustainable lifestyles which includes more reliance on mass transit

Key Aesthetics

  • Cool neutrals
  • Small pops of color
  • Sophistication
  • Architectural inspirations
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Futuristic
  • Material focused
  • Modern art gallery inspired
  • Matt and reflective surfaces combined
  • Asymmetry
  • Dimensional
  • Concrete

Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas, with 54 percent of the world’s population residing in urban areas in 2014. In 1950, 30 percent of the world’s population was projected to be urban. Today, the most urbanized regions include Northern America (82% living in urban areas in 2014). All regions are expected to urbanize in the coming decades. The UN currently projects that 68% of the world population will live in urban centers by 2050. (citing

This is true across the globe. In the United States, large metropolitan areas are seeing more growth in suburban areas in recent years, but smaller cities are experiencing brisk growth, and the Twin Cities is among the faster growing metropolitan areas. Mixed use development projects like The Ford Project and The Dayton’s Project are indicators of this revival of the urban centers and first ring suburbs. (citing

Trend #4: Divine Living


  • People seeking out once-in-a lifetime experiences
  • Meaningful consumption. For example, the ugly fruit movement started in France as a way to lessen food waste and two years later is being tested in Whole Foods markets in California.
  • Valuing quality over quantity
  • Reaction against mundane everyday existence

“An array of rising awareness and concerns regarding topics like healthcare, climate change, conscious consumerism and politics at home and abroad has pushed us toward a desire to pare down, refocus, and strive for something better. People are valuing quality over quantity and experience over possession, and increasingly memory over material.” (Citation: Getty Images Visual Trends 2016 Mid-year report 6/2016)

Key Aesthetics

  • Luxury
  • Real materials
  • Stone
  • Gemstone
  • Pared back
  • Focal points contrast with simplicity
  • Color including Gem tones
  • Rich textures
  • Expressed joinery
  • Quality and character
  • Creation of emotional experience with lighting effects
  • Experiential spaces ie: soaring ceilings

Trend #5: Joyful Traces


  • Embracing of technologies ability to simplify life
  • Extension of connectedness

A decade ago, the idea of controlling your home’s thermostat, lights and security systems remotely via smartphone would have seemed like futuristic science fiction, but 2017 proved to be the year of the smart home. Technology in this market continues to grow leaps and bounds, and Zion Market Research predicts it will reach $53.45 billion by 2022. (citing Forbes )

At this juncture, the Getty’s corporate audience really shines through: its biggest “Extended Human” indicator is that epic 11,000-plus percent surge in interest for stock images of “Wearable Technology.” (Also, it seems that art directors just discovered emoji. Can it be?) Silicon Valley is bent on soft peddling disruption, and so of course it prefers soothing images of the future. There’s a reason that Google’s driverless cars are designed to look like a cuter cousin of Herbie the Love Bug.

Our clients want the convenience of technology but wrapped in a friendly and familiar package.

Key Aesthetics

  • Light colors
  • Simple
  • Transparency
  • Ash
  • Linen
  • Light palette grounded with charcoal
  • 3d printing
  • New materials
  • Spirit filled
  • Time-worn
  • Decayed
  • Digital printing


Trend #6: World Traveler


  • Extreme travel trend
  • Mix of cultures continuing across the world
  • Cuba open for travel
  • Reaction against fears and isolationism

In 2017 world travel was up for the first time since 2010. Leading destinations have been Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia along with European destinations that are atypical, such as Croatia. This trend is continuing to build. (Citation: )

Key Aesthetics

  • Rich color palettes
  • Layering of patterns and decorative elements
  • Hand-painted elements
  • Graphic
  • Mixed influences
  • Acquired look
  • Shift to mix of Asian, Cuban and Moorish influence
  • Terracotta
  • Emerald
  • Natural

As designers, paying attention to cultural, economic, social and political trends can help us understand what trends may soon fade and what trends might be on the rise. Reading widely and listening closely to our clients and vendors is important to understanding why certain trends are being embraced. Being ahead of the pack on a trend can make you an invaluable resource to your clients.