While face-to-face meetings, blueprints and the rush of seeing a completed space for the first time may always be a part of the interior design industry, a wave of technology innovation promises to reshape many interior design processes and best practices.
Many of the trends covered below fall into the category of XR (Extended Reality), a term for any technology that alters reality through interaction with the digital world. And while there is much to say about the much-discussed connected home and work-from-home trends already sweeping the industry, this list will instead survey some very futuristic disruptions that may lie close ahead.
Technology Trends Impacting Architecture and Interior Design in 2022:
- 3-D Printing: By now, interior designers are familiar with 3-D printing, which can create sculptural works of furniture via pre-programmed mechanical operation, and can also create unique pieces of art. There is still much more to come from the world of 3-D printing, including the construction of modular housing, easing the housing crisis while reducing building waste and offering a new form of creativity, as well.
- Virtual Reality (VR): Design professionals can use virtual reality to share 3-D models with their collaborators and clients, making it much easier to envision a final product and to make changes along the way. Expect the virtual reality experience to become a standard client expectation in the coming years.
- Automation and Robotics: Robots have become increasingly sophisticated and are used for much more than manufacturing, but can now help in the finer aspects of creating decor. Automation is especially helpful in a time when labor shortages and supply chain issues are delaying the design process. Take, for example, Sam100 and Hydrian X, mechanical bricklaying robots that can lay more than 1,000 bricks in an hour. They can also be programmed to build a variety of brick laying patterns and layouts with precision and speed much faster than traditional manual labor. These robots will operate on Finch 3-D software, created specially to accommodate adaptive design. While these are specific building examples, expect automation to greatly impact all aspects of the design and decor business, with programmed machines creating ever more advanced fabric patterns, for example.
- Big Data: Big data has been a phrase thrown around for at least a decade, mostly in reference to apps and other online companies that collect and analyze consumer data for marketing and product-development purposes. Likewise, the design industry is increasingly utilizing consumer data to best understand efficiency and the ideal function of space. Zaha Hadid was an early proponent of using data in her planning analysis.
- Digital Twins: A digital twin presents a building project as dynamic in a virtual universe. It performs testing and creates diagnostics on buildings to identify flaws in planning before the real construction begins.
- AI (Artificial Intelligence): In many ways AI is the lynchpin of all emerging technologies in the building and design space because it allows robots to learn independently of human programming. Its predicative, adaptive learning ability will exponentially elevate the capabilities of robotics, automation, and design problem solving.
- Generative Design: perhaps the emerging technology that is most threatening to interior designers, generative design automatically creates design scapes based on Big Data and AI.
- The Metaverse: The so-called ‘metaverse’ must be discussed when discussing technological advances in building and design. This concept of a virtual universe that can be experienced like the real world, where people are represented by avatars and can conduct day-to-day interactions with each other, has this platform to build their proposed spaces and virtually experience them by living in them for a period time, giving the chance to make changes and adapt based on how virtual inhabitants use the virtual space most effectively. From Redshift by Autodesk, “testing facades for energy performance and constructability will be simpler; presentations will be more impressive; and approvals will be faster when more stakeholders can meet up on the ground floor of a design concept before actual ground is broken.” The company formerly known as Facebook rebranded as Meta and intends to be a major force in developing the metaverse, though the company is hardly alone in this pursuit.
These shifts have major social and economic implications. They won’t happen overnight, but to be prepared and to be on the forefront of consumer expectations, design professionals must be prepared to adapt and adopt quickly.