Design in 2020 — what will interior design look like?

As part of our series on design in 2020, Howard Sullivan, creative director and co-founder of YourStudio, looks at what will happen in interiors over the next 12 months.

What do you think 2020 will hold for interior design?

When I was around 14 or 15, I remember sitting on the floor of my local library, devouring shelves and shelves of interior design books. Great big hard-bound books from the 1970s and 80s got me dreaming about the potential of spaces. From mad creations by Gaetano Pesce to artists’ New York loft apartments, interiors felt experimental and gutsy.

The past year has set us on a good trajectory for what an interior can be in 2020. My underlying excitement is about the mix of purpose and magic.

Dutch Design Week’s central pavilion was a striking statement about what material design could be. Grown from mycelium, a radical new bioengineering wonderstuff, it set the tone for pioneering design in our new decade. Material experimentation is at new heights, and the new generation of material designers are the artists of our times, creating incredible new palettes of materials while pushing us to reconsider what we use and to create with.

The blur between us and our spaces is also shifting in exciting new ways with new AI and tech. Clapping to activate an Alexa used to feel novel but in this new decade we become the magic wand itself, triggering all sorts of reactive and responsive actions from the spaces we’re in. Interiors will become intelligent, responsive extensions of our inner worlds, adapting their mood or ambiance based on our emotions. We are currently working on two projects in the studio where human heart rate or metabolic data will modulate the environment you are in. The ultimate form of personalised interior space.

The Alexander McQueen store on Bond Street

What was your favourite interior design project in 2019 and why?

For interior as work of art I have to say the Alexander McQueen flagship store on Bond Street. There is nothing expected about this space but equally it’s warm, exciting while not trying too hard. It is ambient and escapist with couture attention to detail and materials. Novel twists like the circular glass changing rooms with thick, heavy blanket curtains or the embroidered netting you walk through to enter set the scene for the out of the ordinary. The space creates a tension — it has an attitude and you feel something when you’re in it.

Flipping to my other favourite interior of 2019, I would choose The Action Works Café in London’s Broadway Market. Set up by outdoor brand Patagonia, this café was created as a local hub to connect people to grass roots charities like Extinction Rebellion and Friends of the Earth. As a space for congregation and to inspire action, I felt this was a powerful use of of interior design to inspire positive change.

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