IMM TREND.BRIEFING 2021/22

Living with the seasons, the delights of decorating, communicating in interior tableaus

Interior lifestyle is a topic that’s very much on people’s minds. As an expression of personality, the interior no longer paints a rigid picture but is becoming a continuous process instead. But the changes in the furnishings aren’t just influenced by trends; they’re directly affected by what’s happening in our natural surroundings and the rhythm of the seasons and our cultural customs too. For Seasons is a top trend that has an impact on buying behaviour, on the product range and on the point of sale – and provides interior decorators and interior designers with regular occasions for new ideas. 

Mar 24 2021

© Illustration: Björn Steinmetzler, Koelnmesse

It’s becoming increasingly common for the colourways and motifs of interior trends to reflect seasonal changes in nature. Obviously seasonal decoration is nothing new: every year, tableware, candles, flowers and Halloween pumpkins return to our homes in slightly altered form as the seasons come and go. But for a growing number of people, this tradition is becoming a lifestyle – totally independently of whatever stylistic preferences they happen to have, whether it’s Scandi Chic or New Glam, Natural Luxury or wabi-sabi, a liking for marble or a fondness for terrazzo. 

The prerequisite for the For Seasons trend is a willingness to embrace the decorative without being hampered by taboos: interior design is taking decorating seriously again, and even in minimalist interiors using seasonal decorations to create a strong, perfectly placed accent is no longer considered a stylistic sin. Because decoration has become an inherent part of interior design – and the For Seasons trend performs two different functions: 

1. Echoes of nature 

Firstly, it creates a reflection of the outdoor world within the home – a function that has taken on even more significance in the light of the pandemic experience. Nature seems to be the crucial source of inspiration, because interior design is reflecting seasonal colours and moods – although in the form of variants that are in keeping with the trends at any given time, of course: sometimes pastel and tone-on-tone, then bright and colourful again, another time rich in contrasts and finished in high-gloss lacquer, then in the form of nuanced collages. Today, typical set pieces from nature are available as accessories in all sorts of different qualities: a blanket made of artificial fur, an imitation pumpkin in velvet or ceramic or an animal sculpture made of paper, wood or metal. We’re also fond of bringing nature into the house in the flesh, so to speak – in the form of plants (hanging baskets are particularly popular right now), cut flowers or a dried arrangement. And increasingly in the form of artificial products too.  

Inspired by the changing seasons, people are looking for more change within their homes – a reflex to what’s going on outside the window. Accordingly, rather than looking like a counterpoint or artificial product, the furnishings seem like an echo of the natural environment as we perceive it. 

2. The interior as a form of communication 

Secondly, the cyclical reorganisation, rearrangement and redecorating of the interior serves a communicative purpose as well – and this side of the For Seasons trend is also gaining relevance in response to the isolation and lack of social and cultural experiences resulting from the corona pandemic. Via social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram and on interior and lifestyle blogs, communities are forming and exchanging views on the latest trends. A photo of an interior becomes a lifestyle statement and serves as a model that’s emulated by means of DIY and hacks.  

As a result, social media is undoubtedly the strongest driver of the For Seasons trend, but it also serves the need for creative activity, variety and lifestyle. Thanks to the combined effect of its mirroring function and suitability as communication content, For Seasons turns the interior into a representation of its occupants’ mindset. 

Restyles and updates need to be factored in  

The most important tools for implementing the For Seasons trend are colours and home textiles, table decorations, wallpapers, rugs, cushions and an inexhaustible supply of decorative accessories that can be arranged on consoles, little tables and trays, as well as plants, vases and cut flowers, candles, coffee table books and objets d’art, to name but a few. On the walls, the repertoire can switch back and forth between mirrors, pictures, wall stickers and 3D objects. Picture frames, on the other hand, are often draped on sideboards and stood on floors rather than hung from nails. 

Effects at the point of sale 

The industry realised long ago that, when it comes to presenting its products and creating sales appeal in its showrooms – which are increasingly turning into concept stores – it’s vital to take account of consumers’ need to see the way they furnish their homes as a constantly changing process. The art lies in reconciling the equally apparent trend towards sustainable, long-lasting furniture with customers’ desire to transform and decorate – because that desire is being intensified by media behaviour and the current crisis. Rugs and curtains will be replaced more often, and interchangeable covers for sofas and armchairs could well prove a popular offering.

In future, walls probably won’t be the only thing that gets a new look on a regular basis: cabinet doors could be replaced with new ones or individual pieces of furniture swapped to create a mix & match look. So at the point of sale, seasonal replacement is vital and is being emphasised more in advertising. Attractive and photogenic trend installations as selfie backgrounds are a good indicator of the sales that can be expected. And online retailers are responding to the needs of For Seasons fans too by changing both the design of their sites and the product range available.  

Furniture as a canvas for changing styles: making a hobby out of home 

When it comes to buying furniture, people who make a hobby out of their home are more likely to consider how well the furnishings can serve as a canvas for the changing styles they like to create. It’s essential to find the right balance: the furniture should be neither too flamboyant nor too boring. Relatively neutral colouring and a strong but simple design seem ideal. Anything that doesn’t fit in is adapted as necessary. A new coat of paint, different buttons, hacks that result in a complete change of character: For Seasons has no inhibitions.  

Sofas become surfaces for displaying cushions and blankets, dressers and sideboards are used for showing off lamps, decorative items and finds from the great outdoors, and even a corner of the extra-large dining table is permanently reserved for decorative touches. Cabinets are dotted with open compartments and coffee tables are turning into display cases. And they’re being joined by consoles, side tables and box shelves whose sole purpose is to provide a stage for attractive arrangements. Decorations are becoming a collage that changes constantly in keeping with the seasons and our perception of nature. Display cabinets are extremely popular again too – even in the bathroom. Like in the kitchen, tiled walls have been on the retreat here for years and are being replaced with expanses of plaster and wallpaper, adorned with framed pictures or photo wallpapers that add a sense of cosiness and a seasonal feel. 

Furniture as a lifestyle item 

But For Seasons fans aren’t the only target group that’s paying more attention to fashion and lifestyle trends when it comes to furnishing their homes. That’s evident from the increasing overlap between different product categories that can be seen on all the major sales platforms and shopping club sites. Things that don’t necessarily belong together are being presented together as if it were the most natural thing in the world: console tables together with cushions and dresses, hall stands with mirrors and coats; beds draped with underwear and fancy coverlets; furs and pillows next to a chair, desks paired with art prints and a matching business outfit. A sofa in winter white can evidently trigger associations not just with a woollen throw but with winter boots too, and who wouldn’t want to buy towels and a leather weekend bag when they’re shopping for a dresser? 

Less, but lots of it 

At some point, the For Seasons trend comes into conflict with the dominant aesthetic of simple design and the lifestyle idea of an uncluttered existence – a life that sees happiness reign as a result of liberating itself from anything superfluous and keeping order in the home. The solution: putting things away until the right season comes around again – not just the Christmas decorations, but the spring green cushion covers, the summery blue linen curtains, the autumnal dried flower arrangement and the wintery woollen rug. Because yes, less is more – and if it’s too much, it belongs in the basement.

Author: Frank A. Reinhardt

Read more about the other trends in the imm Trend.Briefing 2020/2021 here.

Read more on the trend "For Season" in the magazine by imm cologne

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