year in review | Jan 4, 2023 |
A vintage boom, social media retaliation and more: 23 industry forecasts for 2023

The first two years of the pandemic were dramatic, defined by dizzying highs and plunging lows. In the design business, 2022 will be remembered with decidedly more muted emotions. In fits and starts, the supply chain got better—a little. Designers still had plenty of work, but the home boom began sputtering out, with fewer Americans purchasing residences and stuff to put in them. Call it a bumpy final stretch on the long road back to post-pandemic normalcy.

Or maybe we’re in for more madness? No one really knows what 2023 has in store—but that won’t stop us from guessing. Business of Home asked some of the home industry’s best and brightest to dust off their crystal balls and gaze into the future. Here’s hoping their cheeriest predictions come true.

Tammy Nagem, president of the High Point Market Authority
“I hope 2023 brings a desire for the design community to come together in a meaningful way to take our industry to the next level through cutting-edge designs and deeper engagement, resulting in interiors that inspire and motivate consumers to continue their love affair with their home. My desire is for High Point Market to remain integral in moving this industry forward in 2023 and beyond.”

Sean O’Connor, president of Universal Furniture
“I predict continued strength in the home market. Although real estate is slowing, we still see a big demand for home projects that will keep interior designers busy in 2023. We’ll also see more available supply. We’re at the strongest stock position we’ve had in four years, and inventory levels have risen industrywide. This will help interior design projects to be completed on time.”

Young Huh, New York–based interior designer
“Overall, I think everyone is expecting some signs of slowdown due to inflation here in the U.S. However, due to the strong dollar, clients are looking to purchase real estate outside of the United States, so we might look forward to more international projects. We might finally see some of those waitlists for contractors and vendors shortening or disappearing. I’ve been waiting for a pool contractor to call me back for two years!”

Steele Marcoux, editor in chief of Veranda
“Color still reigns. We’re loving the return of richer colors and predicting a deeper embrace of alternatives to black: Think chocolate brown, plum and deep burgundy. We’re also predicting that some surprising elements will make a comeback—like the color red and travertine. And, for outdoor pieces, we’ll be seeing even more refinement in form. Finally, artisans will continue to be recognized as the true heroes of design. Not only have designers been investing in sustaining and elevating craft, but artisans are bringing innovation into centuries-old techniques, making them ever more relevant.”

Warren Shoulberg, BOH’s Retail Watch columnist
“For the retail side of the home furnishings business, the Bed Bath & Beyond saga has become an enduring soap opera, full of drama, pathos, abrupt character exits and even a tragic death. And that’s just what’s happened so far. For 2023’s narrative arc, it appears quite likely that things are only going to get worse as the big-box retailer’s bank account, customer counts and general merchandise malaise will be coming to a head. Bankruptcy, perhaps even total liquidation, are probably on the calendar for the new year, maybe even as early as January. If that happens, it will be a sad outcome for what not too long ago was one of the best retailers in America—until it wasn’t.”

Athena Calderone, interior designer and founder, EyeSwoon
“I’m seeing more big-box brands elevating their game through collaborations with designers. Zara joining forces with Vincent Van Duysen to revisit his ‘wardrobe’ of furniture pieces is a brilliant example. These collabs offer a more democratic approach to design so that the reach for beauty is more expansive. But perhaps the greatest power of these collaborations lies in the storytelling behind the design and the ability to convey its rich history to a broader audience. After all, beauty in our homes should not be reserved for a select few. With the uncertainty of the economy, I believe we will see a trend toward crafty and clever solutions to improve the home without breaking the bank. We have seen an increase in people becoming empowered to take on design themselves with some professional guidance, purchasing vintage and reupholstering rather than buying new, refraining from a large-scale renovation, and instead inserting personality and soul into our homes through treasured objects and decor. As far as a trend prediction, we are seeing a return to slicker materials like seeded glass and stainless steel. We are even seeing stone used as baseboards or cladding the interior of door frames—something we have seen for years in Europe that is making its way stateside.”

Alex Bellos, co-CEO of Food52, and Amanda Hesser, founder and co-CEO of Food52
“We think there’s going to be an increased focus on community this year. Brands are realizing that their superfans are their best customers and most effective ambassadors. You’re going to see more membership programs with genuinely exclusive benefits, personalized customer care, in-person events and community activations.”

Khoi Vo, CEO of the American Society of Interior Designers
“Based on our research at ASID, I predict we’ll see an increase in renovations and conversions across all sectors. From office buildings to apartments, flagship properties to pop-up showrooms, hotel rooms to meeting spaces, properties are looking to outfit their existing spaces with elements of comfort—which presents the need for interior designers who will re-imagine what already exists. Our research also shows that this year, there will be an even greater focus on occupant wellness and mental health. Mental health has transcended the small scale to become a global public health concern. Interior designers are particularly qualified to create interiors that foster a supportive mental health environment and reduce environmental factors that can contribute to a sense of stress or unease. Again, we are seeing this in all sectors—employers are striving to better support their employees in stressful work environments, guests in hospitality settings desire a sense of comfort and safety, and residential occupants want a home that feels like a calm retreat. Interior designers also have the tools to create more inclusive spaces supportive of neurodiverse populations.”

Susana Simonpietri, Brooklyn-based interior designer
“We are seeing a lot of sculptural fireplaces, built-in beds with fun shapes and travertine taking a solid place in kitchens. I think people are opening themselves up to homes that feel more dreamlike and aren’t the house their parents built. With COVID making us stay home for so long, now people are allowing themselves to be more playful with their houses and create the feeling of being on vacation while at home.”

Victoria Sass, Minneapolis-based interior designer
“I see a return to and exploration of regional design styles. People want a richer and more authentic everyday experience that speaks to their location—and there’s a retaliation brewing against homogeneous and algorithmic design trends that have come about as a byproduct of global influencers and mega social media voices. People don’t want to travel the world just to have it all look the same. I, for one, want to see regional conversations deepened and vernacular styles re-imagined for the benefit of the local community, then shared with the world for us all to enjoy. In order to have a balanced appreciation for home and away, we need to embrace and enjoy our differences.”

Lori Weitzner, textile designer and founder of Weitzner Design Inc.
“The shift to remote work has refocused both customers and designers from trend-based decisions to more personal ones that cater to individual needs and tastes. Homes need to anchor us now in all our roles—work, family, social—and to do that, they must be customized with colors and textures that meet occupants’ specific needs. Some people need spaces that energize and focus them; others seek spaces that quiet their minds and give them a sense of comfort and constancy. Most of us need a combination of these, so mindful use of color, pattern and texture will continue to be paramount in 2023.”

Alison Mears, director and co-founder of the Parsons Healthy Materials Lab
“We hope that we will continue to see an evolution and growth in bio-based and plant-based products that are viable alternatives to a broad range of fossil-fuel-derived toxic and wasteful plastic products. We see a renewed interest in agriculture and locally made and grown products. Agriculture has the ability, through plants like hemp, to regenerate soils and embody carbon dioxide. Industrial hemp continues to be a crop that can create a host of new products from natural fibers in textiles, hemp flooring and insulation. We know that the continued expansion in products and growth in this area will help to transform our homes to make them healthier and reduce the overall climate impact of buildings.”

Sabine Rothman and Victoria Murray, co-founders of Interiors Academy
“Fewer, better things. It’s an old chestnut, but it’s an approach we’ll see play out in different ways this year. From what we’re hearing, designers are planning to be more intentional in the work they take on, the events they attend and all the choices they make. We’re doing the same—even down to the size of the parties we throw becoming generally smaller. For sure, it’s about preserving resources—our own and the planet’s—but it’s also about embracing a new kind of plenitude. We’re done holing up. We’ll do things, see people and even buy stuff, just in creative, considered and meaningful ways. Oh, and we’ll see more warmer tones plus green, green, green!”

Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason, co-founders of AphroChic
“We hope that 2023 will be the beginning of new directions and understandings of the fundamental nature of design, where it comes from and who it’s for. For years, we’ve been having conversations about the ‘work of diversity’ in design. But design is diverse by nature. Every group of people has it, and everyone does it. We released our new book this year as a first step to restoring a missing character—the Black family home—to the narratives of American history and global design. We hope that this year, the conversation expands with this realization, moving toward an even more fundamental fact: that design is a human action and a human right. Everyone has design, and everyone deserves it.”

Caleb Anderson, New York–based interior designer and co-founder of Well-Designed
“Health and sustainability will take center stage this year, gaining urgency in residential design as it has already in the commercial and contract verticals. The time for passivity is over. These design decisions are no longer considerations for someone else—they are for designers in every echelon of residential practice. Considerations on the residential side will start to incorporate an active awareness of design equity and recognizing that good design reaches all parts of humanity. This is the year to find ways to support good design for all. Designers will recognize that design is an opportunity to do something, especially if we harness the power of our community to work toward some of these goals. The concerns of those creating public spaces have become more and more relevant in residential design. In 2023, we are in a position to lead, to create a new standard and a new benchmark for thoughtful, sustainable residential design for all.”

Gwen Hefner, influencer and founder of vintage sourcing community Thrift Club
“I’d love to see people consider their home’s style and location, as well as their own personal style, instead of falling into trends that will need to be updated in a handful of years. It’s less money and time, and it’s being a good steward of what we have! As far as content creation, I’ve recently felt a pull to share less often. The push the last few years has become ‘the more the better,’ and I actually think that being really thoughtful about what I share, how I tell the story, and sharing less often, gives people an anticipation and appreciation they might not have if I show up every day. I also think it’s much more healthy for me and my family.”

Timur Yumusaklar, president and CEO of Schumacher
“Overall, I believe 2023 will stay volatile, so we all have to be nimble and expect the unexpected. This year will create clear winners and losers. Given the difficult market environment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see most design centers seeing continued retreat of activity and tenants. The to-the-trade sector will finally realize that RH is the main and collective competitor for good and high-end interior design. With Asia being less attractive as a market and Europe showing weakness, America will see more interest and investment from European brands. We still predict a record year for F. Schumacher & Co. in 2023, based on inspiration and innovation. Our business focus will be on driving customer happiness with next-level inspiration while focusing on process excellence.”

Rebecca Wilson, chief curator and vice president of art advisory Saatchi Art
“Nature-inspired art and design will continue to be a priority. From featuring artwork made via sustainable methods to embracing natural materials and earthy color palettes, there will be an increased focus on utilizing biophilic design not only as a way to create stunning environments, but also as an evidence-based means of reducing stress and encouraging expression.”

Jeffrey Alan Marks, California-based interior designer
“Everyone’s saying the market, especially for furniture, is quieting down. But if it’s a good product, and it’s something new and fresh, I think it will sell, and people will use it just as much as before. Last year, we were scrambling for product; that’s since calmed down and clients are looking for more quality. In 2023, more than ever, people will appreciate where they are by making their spaces bigger and better—adding on pool houses and patios so that their home feels a little bit more like they’ve gone away on holiday. Exterior lighting will be more playful: It’s the jewelry on a house. A new paint job and new lights outside change everything.”

Kirsty Froelich, director of design and product development of The Tile Shop
“Artistic patterns in newer neutrals like blue will continue to do well. People want to add those decorative touches more permanently to their home decor now. Personally, I’m being influenced by the soft, organic and round shapes that are so prevalent in Australian design. Normally, a recess tile would just be a rectangle or square, but I recently designed one that has a round top—kind of that fish-tail look. As for color, gray remains popular, but customers are asking for warmer tones again, so we’re balancing cool and warm elements together in new patterns.”

Daniel Kravet, vice president of sales at Kravet
“The need for spaces that support relaxation, rejuvenation and recharging will only continue to grow. Wellness is one of society’s most prevalent and important topics today—what we eat, how we move our bodies, ways to achieve personal and mental well-being and, of course, the consumer goods we bring into our homes. We’re seeing the evolution and intersection of these conversations within the design community as well. At Kravet, our response is twofold: to continue to develop, in collaboration with our partners, innovative bioresponsive fabrics; and, as a founding partner of Well-Designed, to support its vision for a happier, healthier and more harmonious industry.”

Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, brand directors of ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan
“In planning ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan, we have been in touch with design brands from around the world and have learned a few things from them. There is tremendous interest and enthusiasm for design brands to come back to the U.S. for the fairs in May. European brands are specifically targeting the U.S. market as part of their brand strategy next year. There is also an increase in momentum from North American designers to participate in both fairs, which tells us the market is gaining strength. In the context of conflicts and environmental crises across the globe, there is a stronger focus on how to best design, produce and distribute new products. There is finally a significant, genuine conversation happening around sustainability, and how designers and manufacturers can provide sustainable solutions, whether it is to choose new materials, restructure their organization or update their distribution. We are also seeing a greater focus on human-centric design with more diversity, creativity and quality among companies across the board.”

Kathy Kuo, CEO and founder of Kathy Kuo Home
“There will be a continued, and even increased, embrace of products and interiors that provoke story and emotion—artful and artisan design, atmospheric motifs and rich layered textures inspired by the natural world. We will continue to see an abundance of materials that hold intrinsic value like travertine, onyx, naturally distressed leather, shearling and all forms of boucle. Particularly exciting is that, after several tumultuous years, clients and customers continue to gain comfort in interiors that feel serene, natural and grounded. They are beginning to step out and embrace bold visual statements like dramatic large-scale murals that offer excitement and truly heart-opening moments to spaces.”

Homepage photo: ©jozefmicic/Adobe Stock

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