Trend Forecast: On the Home Front for 2012

This year was about looking good; next year will be about looking good beneath the surface.

If one underlying principle has defined this year, it’s this: in 2011, design was catapulted from something functional to something that got talked about. Aesthetics played a big role in our everyday lives – even vacuuming got sexy.

There are multiple reasons for this. The passing of Steve Jobs, for one, which prompted all of us to step back and marvel at how much our collective reality has shifted in the past three decades, not through sheer technological brawn alone but via the interface of minimalist design. Another: a surge in the popularity of crowd-sourced, crowd-funded projects and product innovations fueled by Kickstarter. Another still: “look book” themed photo sharing platforms like Pinterest, which have made the distribution of pretty objects that much more accessible.

Next year will continue to be a good year for designers, architects, curators, crafters and the like. But it will be a tough scene to penetrate as the consumer market is teetering on saturation. On the macro, look for large-scale service design oriented projects that will address systemic issues like materials and manufacturing (and this does not just translate to: more bamboo). On the micro, beauty will still abound, but with a keener focus on craftsmanship, story, and function.

Foretold by the Color Wheel

An interesting observation from Your Home Even Better prompted, in part, by a paint company. Granted. But, taking YHEB’s argument that the color palette consumers choose for the home is a “direct reflection of our environment,” consider this: according to Benjamin Moore Color Pulse 2012 report (also available as an App), next year’s color wheel will be ruled by the theme of preservation.

A slide from Color Pulse 2012

In interiors this could translate to a leaning towards indigenous patterns and embroidery.

A table runner from the Suki Cheema collection, a company that seeks objects that “highlight (sic) the love affair between art, travel and textiles.”

Also from Suki Cheema, embroidered throw pillows.

2012: London’s Calling

Expect London to step out in a big way this coming summer, not only through sport but the cultural Olympiad as well. Preceding the games is Clerkenwell Design Week followed by the London Design Festival. During the actual Olympics, the London 2012 festival promises to be the biggest celebration the city has ever seen commemorating international goodwill and gritty competition through the arts. The Arts Council has doled out a ton of dough, and twelve (get it 2012) of the UK’s top artists have already been handpicked to design the soon-to-be-iconic posters. Fab who? Prepare yourself for a new British invasion.

Posters designed by Bridget RileyHoward Hodgkin, Rachel Whiteread and Patrick Brill (aka Bob and Roberta Smith).

Typography, Typography, Typography

And you thought 2007 was the year of typeface. Helvetica the movie was just the beginning. The design world’s love affair with typography will continue well into 2012.

Though we envisage mockery ahead. Remember, this phrase was coined here first: fontwashing.

As in, “Oh no. Another fontwashed bookshelf.”

Occupy: Design

September of 2011 ushered in the start of the stateside Occupy movement in Zuccotti Park. Things got serious, as there are logically, some serious issues at hand. Expect to see the same sentiment traced into design: industrial grays, high contrast, oxidized surfaces. Stirrings include this tongue-in-cheek coffee table from Max Arlestig and Maximilian Gebhardt and timepiece from Dominic Wilcox.

Gridded & Mapped

Expect to see grids and maps etched into just about everything, from quilts to napkins.

NYC and San Francisco grid quilts from Haptic Lab.

Lemondrop napkins from Soft Cities.

Shelter Sharing

An increased awareness about space and our place in it will usher in a new concept of house swapping: renting out excess space in our homes, with a boutique touch. Websites like and have been around for a while now; Craigslist remains a reasonably safe place to swap a walk-up for a Parisian flat. But note A Cabin in a Loft, one artist/designer/architect’s solution for short-term rentals in her Bushwick loft.

The one-room bed & breakfast is a viable alternative to hotels and hostels, and we predict other urban-based entrepreneurs out there will follow suit.

Luxury, Redefined

Maybe it’s Occupy, perhaps joblessness. Whatever the reason, the definition of luxury in 2012 will not come with a brand name attached. Summed up beautifully on Dexigner, next year “luxury will no longer be defined by excess and conspicuous consumption – now luxury means products with higher perceived value and increased practicality. Demonstrating this is the near-disappearance of the ‘logo-covered product.’ The face of luxury is becoming much more subtle, understated and less ostentatious.”

Pondichery Animal Trays from ibride with Rachel Convers. A luxurious way to eat cheese, for example.

It’s The End of the World…We’re Going to Be Fine

Per the Mayan calendar, which was based on a 5,125-year-long cycle, the world is scheduled to end on December 21, 2012. Depending on whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person, “end of the world” could be classified as a positive, spiritually transformative kind of Armageddon or a very negative one, like an asteroid or earth’s collision with a planet called X. Either way, it’s best to plan ahead. Expect lots of doomsday party invitations or plan one in the comfort of your own home.

On a more somber note, however, as the trend of revering designers as latter-day soothsayers continues into 2012, the design community will probe beyond artifice making some deep conscious queries into how the state of design impacts and reflects the state of the world. Core77’s Apocalypse 2012 Series will be one to watch.

Design has been complicit in moving us to [a] precipice…and certainly it alone will not be sufficient for pulling us back,” Core77’s Allan Chochinov writes. “We need to acknowledge the fact that this time, and our place in it, are truly remarkable: We are equipped with our most powerful tools, right when the world needs us most. This is an astounding proposition for design.”

And 2012 promises to be an extraordinary year to cover it.

This post is sponsored by House Moves: making house moving a cinch.

Images: Terry Ferguson; The Telegraph; Graphic ExchanGEFreshHome; FreshHome; DeZeen; Haptic LabSoft CitiesA Cabin in a Loft; AhaLife; Zazzle

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.