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Trend Futures: A Glimpse into Tomorrow’s Designs at NeoCon

May 7, 2022
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Design is a moving target. While classic looks can stand the test of time, change is constant. Whether it’s the latest colors, textures, fashions or technologies, interior designers need to stay up to date on the drivers that influence consumers and markets that will shape the built environment to remain relevant.

But how does one spot a trend that will last over a passing fad? That’s where forecasting comes in. And this year, attendees at NeoCon June 13-15 will get a first-hand look at the trends that will be shaping interior design into 2023 and beyond thanks to the work of design entrepreneur and trend forecaster Stacy Garcia who developed “Trend Futures,” a gallery experience of tomorrow’s design trends at NeoCon in the i+s showroom on the 10th floor of theMART (#10-109). 

“Trend forecasting is very much part of our annual process. It’s something that we do because our studio primarily focuses on product development,” said Garcia, who works with manufacturers to help them create product lines under the various brands of her namesake.

Ensuring they remain trend forward requires Garcia and company to uncover the drivers behind the trends that impact the consumer psyche and understand what makes us attracted to certain colors, materials and looks over others, she explained. 

“We’re looking at those drivers, which come from a couple places,” she said. “The economy will be a driver of trends. We see politics that are a driver of trends. We’ll see ecology—the idea of the planet and the earth, and what’s happening from an ecological standpoint be a major driver of trends. And then we’re looking at things like fashion and art also being things that will really impact where consumers are looking in terms of their taste levels for color, design, materials—things like that,” Garcia added.

Looking Back to Look Ahead

Garcia likened the process to acting as a kind of trend anthropologist, looking backwards through history to find where design happens cyclically. In election years, for example, Garcia said purple tends to emerge as a key color with regal connotations. When the economy tightens as it’s doing now, neutrals become much more prevalent, as was the case in 2008 when the housing market crashed and shades of gray were popping up everywhere. 

“That was a trend that stuck for over a decade—that emergence of this really comfortable, safe, neutral because people feel comfortable that if they invest in that neutral color, it’s not going go out of style,” she explained. “And so, what happens when there’s a tightening economy is, many times people will take less design risk because they’re preparing themselves to live with these things for a longer haul.”

[Related: Trend Forecasting: What's Next for Design in 2022-23?]

On the flip side, when the economy is booming as it did in the Roaring Twenties or the 1980s, design tends to be more opulent as people take bigger design risks. Of course, there are always those who choose to buck the trends as well, Garcia noted.

“The counter trend to neutral is hyper color. So, you may find counterculture is saying ‘[Forget] neutrals—I’m going crazy. I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to go wild with design. I’m going to actually counteract this depressing feeling that I’m having by going nuts with pattern and color and creating a surrounding that feels better for me than these depressing neutrals,’” she explained.

Following are five key design trends Stacy Garcia’s studio has identified for 2023 that will be on display as gallery inspired vignettes paired with digital art in the form of NFTs (read more below) in the i+s showroom on the 10th floor—a must stop for every attendee at NeoCon. Garcia will also be giving a talk in the showroom about trend forecasting on Monday, June 13th at 10:30 a.m.

1.    UNEARTHED

We’ve Unearthed our appreciation of the staggering beauty of nature. An updated take on a Mid-Century aesthetic, this trend is inspired by the earth’s palette and its “one-of-a-kind” structures. Grounding colors and textures help us connect. Nature, we honor you.

  • Color Palette: Saturated hues of fiery orange and terracotta mix with decadent brown, soft shades of blue, mineral green and ochre for a vast array of impactful color combinations. 
  • Materials and Patterns: Flora, fauna and formations mix with weathered, natural and newly sprouted textures. “One-of-a-kind” materials of cork, raw woods, marble and granite paired with mixed metals create an elevated look.
     

Unearthed trend

2.    INTERWOVEN

Influenced by the inevitable blend of our digital and physical worlds, Interwoven is a trend driven by an appreciation of craft and a desire for digital detox. Falling somewhere between the realm of natural fibers and the technology of fiber optics, woven structures and glitchy patterns create a look that is both structured yet blended, rigid yet energetic.

  • Color Palette: Interpreted in a warm palette with tech blue accents, the blending of burnt sienna and golden yellow paired with vibrant jewel tones, such as ruby and amethyst create depth and interest.
  • Materials and Patterns: Digitized patterns, chunky knits, tight woven structures, perforated metals and wire-like patterning make for an unexpected material and pattern blend, telling the story of our overlapping digital and physical worlds.

Interwoven trend

3.    MIRAGE

Inspired by the nature of the desert and the modern architecture that surrounds it, Mirage is anchored by a juxtaposition of textural and clean design elements. With a pared down, refreshing palette, escape and relaxation are closer than we think. 

  • Color Palette: Soothing, succulent green and soft shades of water blues are coupled with dusty peach and accented with white. Sandy hues and the rich tones of warm amber shine, while earthy neutrals reinforce the feeling of familiarity and quietude.
  • Materials and Patterns: Organic motifs and pared down patterning mix with crisp, translucent and reflective materials reminiscent of water. The palette is softened by drier materials of rattan, plaster and clay. Details including soft, curved edges and clean woven structures create a calming effect.

Mirage trend

4.    NEO-DECO

With a nod to the whimsical fashion and culture of the 1920’s mixed with a Neo-Modern influence, Neo-Deco highlights a return to Art Deco with a combination of varying lines, curved shapes and some sparkle. Inspired by an era of vast change, this trend focuses on a return to social, artistic and cultural dynamism. An optimistic color palette symbolizes celebration and good times ahead. 

  • Color Palette: Complex jewel tones pair with popped pastels of lilac, periwinkle and champagne, as well as grounded green and gold.
  • Materials and Patterns: Neo-Deco mixes opulence with contemporary. The shapes featured have a nod to Neo-Modern, as well as classic Art Deco motifs. Mixed metals of gold, sterling and rose gold are prominent, and we’ve added a hint of glitz to this celebratory combination.

Neo-Deco trend

5.    NEUTRALIST

Functional simplicity fuses with elegant imperfections with Neutralist. Utilitarian at its core, Neutralist emphasizes the eloquent balance of transient and natural materials melded with crisp minimalism. The yearn for slow living and the escapism it creates are at the heart of this trend. With an acceptance of impermanence and a quiet appreciation for quality, it’s a lifestyle that is a soothing departure from the everyday chaos. Meditative yet infinitely alive, this trend is the internal recalibration we didn’t know we needed.

  • Color Palette: Warm and comforting, the color palette consists of muted colors and natural hues such as taupe, wheat and sand mixed with complex neutrals like slate, charcoal and mineral washes.
  • Materials and Patterns: In a mix of Minimalism and Scandinavian aesthetic, materials are the focus. Ceramic, concrete, varying wood tones like bleached and charred wood, limewash, natural rock and travertine, frosted glass, ribbed surfaces, routed details, matte black metal accents, the material palette is vast. The key to this trend is pared back layering.

Neutralist trend

How NFTs and Digital Art Will Impact Interiors

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged or ignored news around technology, you’ve probably heard of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Perhaps you’ve even heard of Bored Ape Yacht Club or CryptoPunks that have been trending in the digital space recently.

For the uninitiated, an NFT is a non-fungible token, meaning it is unique and irreplaceable. It is essentially a smart contract that lives on the blockchain which authenticates a digital asset, which can be anything from a work of art, music, video game, memes, property and more. It cannot be changed and assigns ownership, copyright and sale history.

Pantone NFT Very Peri
Pantone recently introduced its first-ever release of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) inspired by its Color of the Year 2022, PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri. The global color authority collaborated with Paris-based multidisciplinary artist, Polygon1993, to give away nine NFT artworks on the eco-friendly Tezos blockchain. 

What does this have to do with the world of interior design? A lot, actually. As designers seek to create more engaging experiences that bridge the physical and digital worlds, NFTs will play an important role in that: 

  • NFTs will become commonplace in commercial, hospitality and residential properties
  • Digital art will create more immersive and dynamic spaces in the future
  • 2D physical art is already turning digital
  • Emergence of holographic art will lend itself to immersive, 360 experiences (i.e., the Van Gogh Experience)

Visitors to the i+s showroom (#10-109) at theMART during NeoCon will be able to view digital art/NFTs as part of the Trend Futures exhibit curated by Stacy Garcia. These NFTs will be featured in displays selected in partnership with art curators Artistic Design Works and Saphira & Ventura Gallery. For those new to NFTs, the space will also feature an NFT Lounge to help educate designers on this emerging technology and how it can bridge digital and physical environments.

“As the technology behind NFT’s evolves, so too will the commercial design industry’s utilization of them,” said David Cohen, founder Artistic Design Works. “Today, we see it predominantly in immersive experiences via moving digital art NFT’s, but as they develop, they will become integrated building blocks to create an even more interactive experience and design in both physical and digital spaces, which attendees at the showroom will be able to experience firsthand.” 

Read next: The Great Disruption, Resiliency and the Workplace of the Future: A Look into Gensler’s 2022 Design Forecast

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About the author
Robert Nieminen | Chief Content Director

Robert Nieminen is the Chief Content Director of i+s and BUILDINGS media brands, and an award-winning writer, editor and design industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience in the publishing industry.