Design in 2021 – what will furniture design look like?

As part of our series of design in 2021, Ruth Wassermann, design director at looks at what will happen in furntiure design in the next 12 months.

What do you think 2021 will hold for furniture design?

For many, 2020 presented the opportunity to really think about the way they live within the home. This year, we imagine that this will manifest itself in customers looking to make the most of the space they have, maximising every function for their multitude of everyday needs. Top of the list is likely to be the home office; converted cupboards, allowing workers to close the doors at the end of the day, and room dividers to carve out home offices in more open plan living spaces. More practical home updates like larger format seating for the whole family to lounge on will also be high on the agenda.

Lockdown has also highlighted the importance of nature and the great outdoors. This year, not only do we expect to see this theme continue in the form of garden furniture and accessories, but also in how our customers extend the feeling inside their home. We’re expecting a rise in the popularity of natural materials, textures and colours. Soft palettes of earth tones and off whites, and finishes including linen and light woods are growing in popularity on the MADE site, perhaps driven by trends across social media like Pinterest.

There’s a growing shift in the way that consumers are approaching buying decisions, accelerated by the events of 2020. Having had time to reflect on their behaviours and how they impact the world around them, we’re seeing customers making much more considered purchases. Where possible, they are buying less but better, and investing in pieces that they have a strong emotional connection to, with a view to holding onto them for generations to come. While aesthetic remains important, the ideas of longevity and craftsmanship are definitely high priority too.

Something a bit different that we expect is the roaring 20s, Part II. As we begin to emerge into new beginnings, many might see it as an opportunity to reset. Much like a spring clean, changing things up at home could be the fresh start that we’re searching for. Colour and energy will play a huge part in this, potentially driving people to make braver decisions with their decor than they might previously have considered. Bold colours and patterns along with plants and flowers will fill the home with life, representing that optimism that has been born out of a year of uncertainty, and with the expectation that a vaccine will create more freedom towards the second part of the year.

What is your favourite furniture design project from 2020 and why?

Courtesy of Faye Toogood

I absolutely loved Faye Toogood’s presentation of new work, Assemblage 6: Unlearning in New York this year. She took time out and during that time made hundreds of maquettes from basic, at-hand materials such as brown cardboard, Sellotape, paper and paper clips. She then worked with producers to recreate the aesthetic of a selection of pieces at full size and in more durable materials.

I think my favourite of these was a room screen, made in the end from aluminium but replicating perfectly the corrugated brown card and tape that the original model was made from. It represents so much that I think is relevant today – the idea of waste materials, a sense of simplicity and craft. It is like Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades for the modern era, and as always Faye Toogood has done something completely unique and original!

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