industry insider | Jul 28, 2020 |
A new industry survey predicts homes that are smaller, smarter and healthier

What will homes look like in 2030? According to a new survey by the International Furnishings and Design Association, they will be smaller, smarter and healthier. The organization’s “Vision for the Future of Home” survey came up with a number of predictions as to what trends will influence the way people live in the next decade.

The survey was last done in 2010, when IFDA members were asked to make predictions about the houses of 2020. The trends toward fewer rooms and the waning of the formal living and dining rooms, predicted 10 years ago, were highlighted again this year as hallmarks of the homes of 2030. Taken by 111 IFDA members, the questions for the survey were devised and sent out before COVID-19 took hold of the world, so the results don’t address issues like whether the public health crisis will lead to a migration away from cities or other ways the pandemic might reshape the American home. But the survey respondents did predict a continued importance on indoor/outdoor spaces, which seems to have been hastened in the age of social distancing.

The 2010 survey also forecasted the domination of the smart home, something that hasn’t quite taken hold—at least, not in the way respondents predicted a decade ago. Looking forward, new respondents said that they expect the popularity of sensor- and voice-activated technology to continue to grow, but cited concerns over hacking and privacy. A similar observation was given to BOH this spring when we asked three futurists to predict what the homes of the 2030s would look like. “I occasionally visit the home of an ultrawealthy person, and they absolutely don’t want to live in Tony Stark’s home—partly because of data concerns and privacy,” innovation consultant Piers Fawkes, founder and president of consumer research agency PSFK, told BOH. “People now buy old Sonos speakers that don’t have Alexa in them, just for privacy.”

Survey respondents also indicated that wellness and aging-in-place are priorities. Ninety-six percent agreed that aging-in-place would be considered in any design plan of the future, though it’s a topic that many designers say is difficult and often awkward to bring up. In 2019, Erik Listou and Louie Delaware, the founders of the Living in Place Institute, which offers education and certification to design industry professionals, told BOH that the best approach to conversations around aging-in-place can be to not have them at all. “They don’t ask you whether or not you want safety features in your car, they just put them in,” said Listou. “It’s not important to spend time trying to educate consumers. Let’s just do it. Let’s just make better, safer homes.” Listou points out that considerations like the width of a door frame (which are often not built to the standard set by the Americans With Disabilities Act in residential settings) or how high to place outlets are easy but impactful choices designers and architects can make without consulting the client. “Most houses in the country don’t have the basic components of safety [that we need],” he says. “So, the simplest approach becomes, let’s just make everything we do safe.”

In the wellness category, respondents see the most likely growth in the bathroom—something that Beatriz Sandoval, director of brand marketing for kitchen appliance brand Thermador, also predicts. “Now more than ever, designers are looking to create customized rooms for focus and self-care for their clients,” she told BOH. “Whether that’s a space to apply a face mask while enjoying a glass of wine, or stretching after a difficult day, a relaxing room to retreat to is essential.” In recent years, product manufacturers have debuted bath fixtures that incorporate everything from aromatherapy and chromotherapy to a zero-gravity bathtub that relieves joint stress.

For the industry at large, the survey predicts an increase in the demand for virtual reality presentations and the number of clients ordering home goods online. But notably, the respondents did not foresee a growing demand for interior designers. Instead, they indicated that they thought the numbers would stay similar to what they are now—another topic that could potentially be altered by the amount of time people are now spending in their homes.

Ultimately, the survey predicts that the home of 2030 will be largely similar to the home of 2020—something that Brian David Johnson, the futurist-in-residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, agrees with. “The dirty secret is that in 10 years, homes are going to look a lot like they do today,” he told BOH. “That’s not a bad thing. That’s understanding that we as humans like things that are comfortable and have history. I tell my students that if you walk out your front door and it looks like it did on The Jetsons, that’s a nightmare. We don’t want our homes to change all that much.”

Homepage photo: Adobe Stock | (c) Kit8

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