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Interior Design Trends for 2021: Results of the Annual 1stDibs Survey

As each year comes to a close, interior designers look ahead, anticipating new trends and innovations that will impact how they do business. This year has seen greater transformation than any other in recent memory, and while we spent 2020 trying to quickly adapt to immediate shifts to our lifestyle conditions, we can now analyze what we have learned over the last year to prepare for what is in store for 2021. 

 

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For the past four years, 1stDibs – the leading online platform for luxury antiques, and the parent company of Design Manager – has surveyed its clients to gauge emerging trends among interior designers. The survey covers a wide range of topics from business operations to creative preferences and responses are gathered from approximately 600 participants. While 1stDibs usually conducts the survey in December, this year’s research was conducted in September and October to best capture the impact of COVID on the industry. Here’s what the results of that survey tell us about what lies ahead in 2021. 

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How COVID is Changing Interior Design

Despite the dramatic fashion in which COVID-19 transformed our society overnight, interior design was one of the few industries that saw greater opportunity as a result of the pandemic and its effect on people’s lifestyles. According to the survey, designers are positive about the prospects for the industry, as they have a crucial role to play in solving the question of how spaces can be productive for both personal and professional needs while also safeguarding the health and safety of their clients. In response to the critical nature of their role, clients are more aware of the importance of design.

Home Office Interior Design is In-Demand

There are an abundance of opportunities in the residential space, as people’s personal homes are often now their primary professional office space and/or classroom for education as well. The future of residential design will include:

  • more home offices, which is expected to be the primary focus for 2021
  • more outdoor spaces
  • more home gyms/wellness areas
  • flexible, multipurpose rooms

Designers will be looking to sources like 1stdibs to provide them with both ideas and materials to meet client expectations. After immediate concerns are addressed, future design trends are also expected to incorporate kitchen and outdoor space activities. 

 

Note that challenges across both commercial and residential design include delayed procurement/delivery time/availability compounded by project delays and cancellations.

Remote Interior Design is In

How interior designers work is changing rapidly, too. The days of eschewing remote consultations and virtual client meetings are waning – at least, for now – and interactions  between designers, vendors, and clients is increasingly entirely online right now, the survey finds:

  • The percentage of projects being designed virtually is currently above 40%.
  • This number is expected to rise to as high as 90% in 2021.
  • The lack of in-person interaction increases the chance for miscommunication and frustration; opportunities exist in project management and communication platforms to smooth friction points between designers, vendors, and clients.

Online sourcing of materials and other items is growing fast: 

  • The proportion of items purchased online (versus in-store or at a gallery) shot up sharply in 2020 to 73%, from 56% in 2019. 
  • That ratio of items bought online is projected to be similarly high in 2021. 

Commercial Interior Design Demands Social Distancing

Meanwhile, commercial interior designers should know already that the onset of COVID-19 has generated demand for more spacious settings and related modifications, including:

  • Redesigning existing spaces to accommodate social distancing.
  • Transitioning spaces to have flexible capacities, depending upon evolving needs and conditions.
  • Office spaces, in particular, need to be rearranged to include more private offices/personal work areas, versus the open-floor plan that was so recently en vogue. 

Interior Design Decor Trends for 2021 

Artisan Interior Design is In

Artisan craftsman and makers are expected to increase in popularity, receiving a greater share of purchase orders:

  • The anticipated proportion to be purchased from artisan makers in 2021 is now 61%, a major increase from 42% in 2017.
  • No single artist dominates that list, but the general category of artisans/local/small makers are expected to be very in-demand in 2021.
  • The percent of customized pieces has been declining (to 51% in 2020, from 58% in 2018).
  • That said, iconic furniture remains en vogue, which includes a broad range of individual pieces, as well as pieces made by Eames and Saarinen. 
  • Meanwhile, floral and organic patterns/motifs will be more popular, along with bold and large-scale patterns, which work well with both flexible spaces and areas that connect indoor/outdoor transition areas. 

Interior Design Color Trends

This year’s survey finds that popular colors are trending toward warmer and brighter jewel tones, such as:

  • dark green/Emerald
  • dark/Navy/cobalt blue
  • white
  • burnt/dusty orange
  • dark yellow
  • light green/sage

Popular Interior Design Surfaces

The styles that designers implement in 2021 will complement the coming changes in design, such as those that accommodate flexible spaces, and will focus on creating warmth. Look for:

  • Building and surfacing materials that are in: wood, unpolished metals, and stone. 
  • Building and surfacing materials that are out: brass and polished metals.

While 2020 has brought its share of pain and frustration to people around the world, 2021 promises a light at the end of the tunnel. With vaccines expected to be widely available by mid-year, we may never go back to the way things were before, and the pandemic has brought an opportunity to refocus on the spaces in which we inhabit. 

 

Interior designers are in a position of great importance as we move into 2021, and should prepare to build their businesses based on these changing trends. Of course, fast business growth can bring chaos to your business operations if you’re not organized; that’s where Design Manager can help. Try Design Manager today and be prepared to take your interior design business to a new level. 

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Margot LaScala
Margot LaScala
Margot is a writer and interior designer based in the NYC area. She is passionate about keeping up with the latest architecture and design news to not only stay informed, but inspired.

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