Health above all else is what shaped pretty much everything this past year.
As much as this is a fact at any point in life for anyone and in every century, this year we’ve been globally reminded of our own mortality. The solidarity that ensued, even with its systemic flaws here and there, stood proof of humanity’s power to direct itself as species. Independent of you agreeing or not with local policies, the psychological impact that this global lifestyle catastrophe has generated has touched and will continue to touch all aspects of life.
In design, we saw a return to visual and tactile safety nets, an elevated stance on casualness, and a propensity to favour time quality over other endeavours that shape our environments.
Light materials and textures fight against the darkness of the times
In my design practice, solutions and ideas are never out of a vacuum. Inspired by current events, lifestyle trends, technology, travel, art and all things human, we, the makers, listen to the world around us before we contribute to it.
Some of the concepts here may not sound too trendy, nor too positive but they were certainly impactful. We often forget that trends are not just fashion and veiled masks to put on as we mingle within our own species. Trends contain not only positivity but suffering, angst, incertitude. Some of the greatest art came from some of the darkest trends.
Baroque paintings are characterized by dark shadows, intense colours and powerful visual drama. Caravaggio and Pietro de Cortona were masters of tenebrism, a style of painting where darkness is a dominant element of the painting. The technique itself comes from the Italian word tenebroso, meaning gloomy. The intent of the art was to generate a strong emotional experience in the viewer and guide them back to the catholic church in a time where the church was losing its authority.
Somewhat in a similar way now, as we lost track of the lighter pleasures of life, we turned to design to supply visuals that replicate them in our built environment. This past year was less about specific colours in fact, all colours were a go. It was instead more about textures and tactile environments.
As a counter-effect to the gloomy global reality, design materials lighten up. We see more and more the presence of bleached white oak walls and floors, even all white, warm metals replacing the cold and only thin, black accents add crispness as incentive to the spirits.
Social Bio-grouping generates a trend for elaborate outdoor space designs
A social grouping is a whole that is made by combining two or more people that share some type of interdependency. To that effect, a parent and a child, or a couple, form the smallest social group and a city or country, some of the largest. Some saw flaws with such a generic definition; so other characteristics were developed to better distinguish what social grouping is. Social identity for instance claims that a group is defined by those who feel that they belong to it. Yet these past years, for many, that was a reality that was shattered in a blink with the stroke of one governmental edict.
The “bubbles” as we all came to call them, became a mandated process of segregating friends. An unfortunate result of the times we live in. Health has proved once again to be seen a something of the body, and not of the mind. Inadvertently though, the balance between the two had to establish itself and, like Foucault’s pendulum, measuring a fact so well known that it should not need any measuring, we’ve slowly moved toward designing our outdoors to balance for that missing social life within the constraints of the new norms.
And so, the outdoor spaces have evolved into carefully choreographed entertainment and friendship bonding oasis of summer.
The summer itself extended beyond the traditional boundaries, embracing the bordering seasons. The spring was more joyful, the fall softer, people that typically hid inside until burned by summer sun, now embraced the powerful cold air and willingly, adapted to the new ways.
Being in sync with your environment and your surroundings becomes a necessity for a sane mind
Interiors on the other hand, especially the homes, became important more than ever. Domesticity has a long history and common to it all is the need to create a cozy, pleasant, safe and healthy place for people to retreat to for rest, food, recharging and sleep.
Spatial interior design theories talk about negative space, circulation, the importance of air and greenery, visual composition. Feng shui, perceptual space and modernism have all left their mark on our expectations of home.
The future will show a new shift, highly reliant on a new kind of health bond between individuals and their homes. A bond that like never before, will establish connections that have never been stronger.