As we enter 2024, we can expect a tumultuous year with social unrest, foreign wars and a possibly contentious presidential election. Design will be more cautious and yet hopefully optimistic that things will improve for the better as the year progresses. Design and color will reflect how we react to the environment around us. Here is what we can expect:
Spaces will be comforting and relatable. We are moving away from the austere interiors awash with shades of gray and moving to a warming base palette of beiges and browns. Design will be simpler but include layers of visual depth. Like a warm, cozy blanket, it is relatable and comfortable.
Return to work will evolve slowly with continued emphasis on spaces that are warm, welcoming and homelike.
Retail will impart a sense of calm, pare away the noise associated with our daily tech-driven lives and return to places where we want to meander.
Healthcare will emphasize the importance of wellness and preventative care, creating spaces people want to go to stay healthy, not just places to be treated when sick. It will broaden its reach and partner with retail to build the universal wellness story.
Schools will navigate a complex mix of responsibilities: teaching, keeping kids safe and providing a nurturing environment. They will have simple, uncomplicated spaces designed to foster learning and a sense of well-being.
Hospitality becomes a haven of rest and restoration, offering a range of quiet and restful spaces to gather. Taking cues from B&Bs, many will amend their brand to reflect this new focus.
Nature will continue as a recurring theme but in a much more subtle way. There will be allusions to nature through color and pattern. Attention will be given to bringing in more natural light and airflow and incorporating more access to exterior spaces.
As biophilic design, which seeks to connect building occupants more closely to nature, continues to go mainstream, we'll see continued work on creating materials that minimize impact on the earth. Going beyond recycling to rethinking materials and leveraging what we can learn from nature.
From the pandemic, we learned that nature could foster health and well-being. Design will continue to explore how nature can be leveraged in interiors and in how materials are made. Retail will look for ways to incorporate elements of nature with water elements, nature sounds and smells.
Healthcare acknowledges that elements of nature support healing and is expanding nature-inspired imagery and color. They are also addressing how lighting impacts circadian rhythm and its importance to the well-being and recovery of patients.
Schools are looking for ways to incorporate nature into their design to counterbalance technology.
Hospitality will incorporate nature to facilitate a sense of retreat and escape and add more immersive outdoor spaces to gather.
Texture will be an integral part of design. It imparts authenticity. Its tactile qualities are humanizing and engage our senses.
Texture adds dimension and depth and implies a handmade and crafted appearance. It celebrates what the Japanese call wabi-sabi, the philosophy that finds beauty and purpose in natural imperfections.
Office environments will incorporate woven screens, boucle fabrics and exotic woods to create a homelike appeal.
Retail and hospitality will use textures to add dimension and interest to a space, making it more conducive to wandering.
Healthcare has a challenge of incorporating texture that is easy to maintain but is still engaging. They'll use visual texture to create interest while maintaining cleanability, i.e., decorative glass wall coverings simulating natural materials with authentic low-profile embossing that creates visual depth.
Schools will incorporate texture as a method of disguising wear and tear. They will also provide tactile stimulation for younger children.
Turn Down the Volume
It's a time for hunkering down and not being too ostentatious. Not so much shine; we want finishes that enhance, not detract from, materials. This doesn't mean less color, just less chromatic color. Colors are softer, more neutral – approachable.
Metals are less shiny and have new dimensions. Wood values are moving lighter and not as dark.
Colors continue to be inspired by nature. Combining beige and browns for a decidedly warmer palette.
Metals are transforming and artisanal. They will be buffed, smoked, imperfect and show exposure to the elements with a natural patina.
Woodgrains are moving warmer and more matte in appearance with minimal finishing. It includes more low-key exotic options and warm, softly mottled walnuts.
But the color story always has its exceptions, as we see pops of colors, including rich teals, purples, chartreuse, all shades of green and dark blues. Oh, and lest we forget, peach tones will complement the uptick in browns and beiges.
Expect a roller coaster ride in the coming year where anything can happen!
Laura is a Senior Product Designer at Construction Specialties, primarily supporting color and trend work within our New Product Delivery team. She is responsible for delivering powerful and moving color palettes, textures, patterns, collections, and designs that resonate with an evolving customer.
Laura also conducts research and drives ideation and development activities. She has an extensive history of designing products for the commercial interiors market, including utilizing various design tools and Voice of Customer research to bring products from concept to commercialization. With her passion for learning new things, she constantly seeks out new information that will help her develop products customers will love.