Furnishing with emotions

The new trends for the home

For the fourth time, home expert Oona Horx-Strathern presents the most important home trends in her Home Report. She shows how the Corona pandemic is changing our homes in the long term and that sustainability and feelings are becoming increasingly important. We asked her for ambista what this means concretely for the furniture industry. 

Jan 11 2022

We interviewed you in 2020 about how home offices will affect our lives and furniture manufacturers. Now, a good year later, we want to know from you again how our home will change or should change. In your "Home Report 2022" you draw playful and promising pictures and trends. What do you think are the most important ones? 

Where should I start? (Laughs.) In any case, sustainability is the most important development and change in consciousness in recent years. It plays an increasingly important role in our lives and affects all areas of life - from building houses to furniture to our clothes. I believe that the Covid 19 pandemic has reinforced this development. Especially when it comes to furniture, we have developed a much greater awareness of what material it should be made of, whether its production has taken place in harmony with nature and people.  

More and more people are furnishing their homes in an "emotionally sustainable" way because they want an emotional, long-term connection to their furniture. They are prepared to invest more money for this. They are also thinking about future generations, their children and grandchildren, to whom they can bequeath the furniture. That, too, is sustainability! It has many levels, not only ecological.

The fourth Home Report by the renowned trend and futurologist Oona Horx-Strathern can be ordered in the online shop of her institute © Julian Horx

How was sustainability able to establish itself as a trend? 

I believe that this multi-layered trend towards sustainability has something to do with the fact that we want to experience our home as a contrast to the digital world around us. For us, we are looking for the authentic, something we can experience haptically, touch. This can be seen, for example, in the hygge trend of recent years. This is also a reaction to the monitors, displays and technology that dominate our (working) world.   

How do you determine the living trends?  

On the one hand, it's about "pattern recognition", the recognition and analysis of content and developments. On the other hand, we observe the megatrends, the major trends in our society and the corresponding countertrends. For example, when we see the trend of digitalisation, we can expect the counter-trend, the striving for an analogue offline life. Or in a very individualistic society we see the counter-trend, the desire and need for connectedness and community. This opens up the major developments and trends for us.  

How do you verify your observations?  

Through surveys and statistics. For example, sales statistics show that people are buying more kitchens. Because they spend more time at home, their need to do something good for themselves, to live healthily, is also growing. I call this the trend towards the "Conscious Kitchen". 

What big trends do you see coming for European furniture entrepreneurs?  

What I often look at are smaller trends that are becoming more important, like the vegan trend. For example, in 2019, the Hilton Hotel in London created the world's first vegan suite. The elegant, beautiful design was implemented using only vegan materials - no wool, leather, etc. Meanwhile, there are more and more vegan hotels and interior designers who work vegan.

Which trends are brand new - and which have been emerging for years? 

I call one new trend "furNEARture". It is difficult to translate this play on words from English into German. But Stella Hempel, a journalist from the editorial team of the online platform BauNetz has found a nice German word for it: "Möbelnähe". So, for years, one could observe that the interest in craftsmanship and good design has increased, as well as the trend to buy ecological and very individual furniture. All this can be found in the trend "furniture proximity/FurNEARture", which has clearly developed as a counter-trend to teak furniture from the Far East.  

In line with this trend, there are more and more companies that process materials from the region and more and more buyers who want to show where they belong with their furnishings. They demonstrate their identity with pieces of furniture and have an emotional closeness to it: They know where each piece comes from, they know the forest from which the wood for it was fetched or the weaving mill that produced the fabric, right down to the short transport distances covered from production to the living room. 

Oona Horx-Strathern is convinced that nature and environmental friendliness are playing an increasingly important role in home furnishing © Klaus Vyhnalek

Are the trends similar across Europe or do you see different developments in, for example, Spain, Germany and the UK?  

I focus on German-speaking countries and there I see great similarities. In general, in Europe, in what I like to call the "design democracy", you can see that the need for good, affordable design is very widespread. 

In your opinion, which trends are tending to fade away in our living environments? 

I think the idea of the sofa set - the classic two- to three-seater combined with two armchairs - is fading. Now we're talking about modular furniture that can be rearranged flexibly, about furniture that forms more of a landscape and not immovable fixed points.  

If you were a furniture manufacturer, which trend would you focus on and how would you adapt your production to it in order to help shape the future? 

I am not an expert on production. But I am interested in quality and durability. That's why I would go for "FurNEARture": I would focus on local suppliers and craftsmen. I would use the knowledge of the people in my immediate environment and regionality. Transparency, connection with local people and the environment create opportunities for buyers to identify with a manufacturer's products.  

Are you looking forward to the future – or are you more worried about climate change, scarcity of resources and environmental destruction, that we will soon no longer be able to enjoy as much luxury and lifestyle as we do today?  

We say in our family that we are "Possibilists". We are not blind optimists or pessimists, we focus on the positive and look for opportunities for improvement. So far, we have always found some.

Author: Christine Sommer-Guist

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