As designers, we’re continuously influenced by the world around us. Expected means, like Pinterest and design magazines, and unexpected social media streams and fashion trends help us come up with new concepts all the time.
Looking at the built environment around us, we can see a multitude of parallels between design and other seemingly unconnected avenues like the news, daily events, TV and film and even politics.
It’s inevitable that in such a connected world, the power of social influence on Interior Design will never be seen as a stand-alone discipline — it’s a culture of give and take that adapts to an ever-changing world.
The Aftermath of 9/11
The terror attack on New York’s Twin Towers sent a shockwave across every nation. In what felt like no time at all, life as we knew had been completely altered. Our thoughts and feelings had shifted from happy-go-lucky to sombre.
This had a knock-on effect on Interior Design. Media footage of the attack showed plumes of ash and blankets of dust covering New York City. Grey became the only colour people had in their minds. It was everywhere on TV, and it fit in with the general mood at the time. Soon enough, grey was being used to decorate walls and became the colour of choice for furniture and accessories.
Grey has often been associated with industrial environments, and the lack of colour means it doesn’t draw attention to itself. It can be seen as a distant and separate shade, which highlights how people must have felt. Over night, it became hard to know who you could trust, and keeping to yourself seemed the best way to be.
Luckily, times have changed drastically since 2001. We’ve come closer as a world united, and grey tones have superseded the need to be distant. They can have a calming effect, and shades that are yellow-based can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere when used correctly.
Youth culture has radically transformed Interior Design. Cheryl Durst, Executive VP and CEO of the International Interior Design Association
(IIDA), said the younger generation is “more visually literate than their older counterparts,” and that lighting, colour and speed are now priorities within Interior Design.
We’re more digitally savvy and globally connected than ever before, and in that, younger demographics have gotten used to consuming information, in short, impactful bursts. Design has to be eye-catching, but it also has to function quickly.
It’s not enough for designers to simply know about design. Durst remarked that we need to understand its influence on behaviours, and a wider knowledge on topics such as marketing, psychology and anthropology would be a huge benefit to designers.
The Effect of the Recession
Interior Design has long been affected by the health of the economy. When money is conservatively guarded, design is the only thing that separates products when they share the same technology and function.
In more recent times, the rise of shabby chic was a “very direct implication” of the global financial crisis in 2008, according to the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers. Young people entering the workforce at the time of the crash were determined to maintain a high quality of life, sparking a DIY movement. All of a sudden, consumers were enamoured with basic tips on how to spruce up their interiors on a budget.
Pinterest became a huge driving force, too. People were looking at concepts online, and discovering ways to recreate them for less money. Designs had that handmade, unpolished look about them, but that brought out their rustic charm and gave them an air of authenticity.
The look is still popular today. Shabby chic design can be seen in all manner of businesses. Exposed flooring, brickwork and wooden beams are a common sight in cafes, shops and home interiors. At the start of the recession, this was a money-saving exercise, but now, people are willing to pay to get the DIY look for themselves.
Creating a Sustainable Environment
The power of social influence on interior design has created a new need for sustainable solutions. We’re more aware than ever before of the damage that’s been done to the planet, and there’s a global consensus that we have to find ways to reduce that impact. According to the BBC, the Vegan Society reports there are 600,000 vegans in Britain alone with environmental concerns being a significant reason for the surge in numbers.
Interior Designers worldwide are noticing there’s less demand for leather and fur furnishings, but the look and feel these materials bring are still
popular. Faux counterparts are on the rise, as they provide the same benefits but in a sustainable way.
Upcycling old furniture is a big talking point in Interior Design, too. People are less inclined to throw things away if they end up in a landfill, which is why people are looking to breathe new life into old pieces.
This is something LOFT specialises in, as we want to build more sustainable developments and cut back on the amount of waste that’s produced each year. We’re proud to work for a company that realises how important it is to find new and innovative ways of protecting the planet while also giving us a chance to flex our creative muscles.
The True Power of Social Influence
Predicting the next big thing in Interior Design is easier said than done. The power of social influence has a huge affect on every aspect of our lives. Take the recent Coronavirus outbreak as an example. In the space of a couple of weeks, interiors were rejigged to accommodate people working from home, and now there’s a significant focus on the importance of home office design because that’s where the demand is.
As with many industries, Interior Design adapts to meet the needs of the people, not the other way around. Designers are on hand to provide advice, but we’re not the ones who start trends. We cater to them, and find ways to improve and build on them. We listen to what people want and find the best way to meet their unique needs.