2020 Interior Design Trends
Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege of attending High Point Market in North Carolina, a five-day “to the trade” event that’s usually held every April and October. It is the largest furniture and accessories show in the world, covering an area of over 12 million square feet.
By attending High Point Market twice a year, I get to see the evolution of styles and colors. When I visited in October, certain trends that I’d observed in 2018 were now firmly established. To further confirm my observations, I attended Paris Design Week, also called Paris Deco Off. Paris Design Week is Paris’ version of High Point Market. If one is looking to see what trends will soon be coming to the states, Paris Design Week is a good indicator.
I will break down the seven top trends that I saw, but my overall observation, looking over thousands of images from both industry events, is that luxury and maximalism both stood out. As a whole, I think the global community is stressed. We worry about the environment, the unpredictability of the world economy — and all this was before the COVID-19 outbreak. Our home is our one place of refuge. It is our sanctuary and safe harbor.
Even before the pandemic, we were spending more time nesting and less time at the mall. We want our homes to be special, functional and beautiful. We are looking to surround ourselves with quality items that reflect the stories of the hands that made them. Fast fashion and cheap decor are no longer sought after. Although most of us don’t have the budget to fill our homes with luxury items, we can splurge on one beautiful pillow or perhaps deck out a small room with charming wallpaper. Less might be more going forward, but the less is the best quality one can afford.
Here is my roundup of the seven top trends for 2020. How the current state of affairs will affect these trends has yet to be seen.
1. Color: We are moving away from the cool grays and cooler tones that we have seen for the past 10 years. There is a shift toward warmer, especially jewel tones, and rich, complex colors. All shades of green, along with golds (especially paired with blue), warm reds, denim blue, dusty pinks, eggplant and terra-cotta are all trending. Color is in, and the consumer is fully embracing it.
2. Biophilia: This is one of the hottest trends you’ve probably never heard of. Biophilia is basically our innate urge to surround ourselves with nature. Most people immediately think of plants, but biophilia is so much more. This trend incorporates organic materials and elements like raw woods and natural-fiber textiles such as linens, cottons and wool. Biophilia embraces rooms that are flooded with natural illumination from ample windows or skylights. Anything representative of nature falls under the biophilia trend, including photos or paintings of nature, fabrics with floral or botanical patterns, shells, coral or butterflies. Biophilia isn’t only about natural items, but shapes and colors, as well. The colors of nature, such as blues, greens and earthy tones, and soft, rounded organic shapes all fall under the biophilia umbrella.
3. Pattern Mixing: Patterns, and lots of them, are a huge trend heading into the new decade. While in Paris, I attended the 2020 introductions of fabrics, wallpapers and carpets by iconic fabric house Pierre Frey. I was awestruck by the beauty and how they were presented as a cohesive collection. All the patterns are designed to work together in a single room and were displayed by colorway. Florals, geometrics, ikats, and animal prints all speaking the same language.
4. Texture: This is a trend that plays right into the luxury category. I wanted to spend all week in both High Point and Paris running my hands over everything and feeling the textures. Sumptuous fabrics, including velvets, embroideries and nubby wool, are all trending. There were textural and sculpted carpets, textured wood cabinetry and embellishments on everything from lighting to furniture. Fringe is especially popular, and there is a big resurgence in both wicker and rattan. High-gloss wallpaper was a surprise I came across in several Paris showrooms. Pierre Frey has introduced a patent leather wallpaper and, just around the corner from their showroom I saw a patent leather skirt in the window of clothing store.
5. Animal motifs: Maybe it’s because we continue to hear disheartening news about the threats to and declines of exotic animals, but animal motifs were everywhere in High Point and Paris. Dishes, drapery, carpets and furniture were all seen sporting animal motifs. Primarily, I saw exotic African animals, but fish, horses and dogs were clearly represented. My friend and I made a game out of “spot the animal” because every showroom we visited had either representations of animals or animal prints. Look for animals to be especially popular on fabrics and wallpaper.
6. Mixed materials: A wood-framed chair with brass and cork arms. A wood chest with glass inlay and a stone top. Mixing different materials on a single piece goes along with the maximalist look that’s very much trending. I saw a lot of furniture with some combination of wood, glass, stone, brass, silver, Lucite or fabric on a single piece.
7. Curves: Rounded shapes have officially replaced the clean, straight midcentury lines of the past 10 years. This trend references the ’80s with bucket-type swivel chairs, curved-back sofas, rounded arms, and soft edges on furniture and accessories. If our home is our safe haven, then curved furniture that envelops our body gives us a cozy and protected feel. Curves are an organic shape and pleasing to the human eye. They fit right in with the urge to create a sanctuary space at home.
Trends are always fun to spot and discuss, but keep in mind that they only have a shelf life of about 10 years. By 2030, we will have moved on and other new trends will be “the look.”
As a working designer, I generally stay away from trends as I prefer to give my clients a more timeless space. Even so, it is interesting to observe the evolution of interior styles and colors, and at least take notice.
If you truly want to be “on trend,” then my advice is to pick a trend or two and incorporate them in a way that they can easily be switched out when you’re ready to try something else.