big ideas | Dec 29, 2021 |
What will happen in 2022?

In 2019, no one could have predicted the craziness of 2020. In 2020, few could have foretold that the coming year would feature a lot more of the same (or that it would start to feel almost normal). Guessing the future is tough. But it’s worth trying, especially if you’re looking to make a few of your most optimistic predictions come true.

To celebrate the end—finally—of a wild year, we asked 18 leaders from the design industry to gaze into their crystal balls and share what they saw for the next one. Cheers!

Rebecca Atwood, textile designer and founder of Rebecca Atwood Designs
“[Over the past two years], designers have taken to consulting online, vendors have diversified their production, and lines have embraced e-commerce. I hope that 2022 sees the design industry leverage these improvements by continuing to reinvest in itself, support one another, and let go of ways of working that no longer serve us. I believe businesses that continue to experiment in this unpredictable landscape will be the ones who leap ahead.”

Jo Saltz, editorial director of House Beautiful
“With all the madness around us—and the world feeling like it’s on fire—I don’t think anyone will argue that it seems our only truly safe spaces are within our homes. Designers and manufacturers are leaning into this, so I think we’re going to see a major surge in what I’ve been calling ‘emotional support furnishings’: fabrics, shapes, colors, textures that soothe our stress and allay our fears. Think calming patterns, super-nubby knits, deep-pile carpets, recliners in all sizes—in 2022, our homes are going to feel more and more like warm hugs.”

Beth Bender, principal of consulting firm The Dove Agency
“Designers will continue to develop multiple channels of revenue for their businesses. There will be more of a focus on capitalizing on their intellectual property rather than markups on furnishings. I also predict that with the shipping delays and supply issues, we will see a surge in small and handmade furnishing and textile companies marketing themselves in new ways to reach the design community. The end consumer will be willing to pay to expedite their furnishings, opening up the market for these smaller brands. Smaller companies will take the lead from larger brands and prioritize collaborating with well-connected designers to elevate their designs and take advantage of influencer marketing to get the word out.”

Timothy Corrigan, interior designer
“As large home store chains proliferate, due to the ease of ordering/delivery, higher-end consumers are feeling the need to differentiate themselves; customization continues to grow in popularity as people try to make more specific statements about who they are and how they want the world to see them. Also, with so many developments in product design, consumers are becoming less willing to sacrifice how something looks for how it performs. Composite stones, solution-dyed acrylic rugs that are as soft as silk, and fabrics that can live up to a household of kids are all going to continue to grow in demand.”

Mark Letain, president of EQ3
“We will continue to see lead times that are among the highest we have witnessed in a generation—although I believe things will begin to improve by the third quarter. Those retailers that have worked towards creating a more flexible and resilient supply chain will have an opportunity to gain market share if they are better able to respond to customer demand.

“Along that same line of thinking, I believe 2022 will center more around service as opposed to product. For those companies that pride themselves on being responsive and transparent to the trade industry, this presents an opportunity to gain new appreciation from the design community at large. The focus for furniture companies now is on delivering their orders as opposed to introducing new products. I would suspect a lot of designers have had a difficult time planning spaces for their clients because of the changing dates and timelines for product deliveries, and many likely feel let down by their partner suppliers. As a result, the design industry will be looking for companies that can be more responsive to their needs and can prove to be reliable.”

Malene Barnett, artist, activist and founder of the Black Artists + Designers Guild
“Artists and designers who want a liberatory studio practice will invest in NFTs and digital spaces to experiment and explore ideas and concepts that they may not necessarily have implemented in their studio practice. Of course, it's still early to predict the success of NFTs, but I believe they are a viable investment for our future.”

Adam Sandow, chairman and founder of the Sandow Design Group and founder of Material Bank
“The design industry had a tremendous year, and responded to challenges with great creativity. While supply chain issues will remain in the coming year, this shared pressure will continue to force innovation. Our lives as consumers will continue to get more and more frictionless, with B2C influencing B2B and resulting in a demand for greater efficiency and ease in our industry.”

Laiza Cors, founder of influencer agency Embello
TikTok will continue to elbow out Instagram, so buddy up with your tech-savvy Gen-Z relative and have them coach you on best practices for the video-based platform!”

Bryan Dicker, president of Holland & Sherry
“My predictions are the following: a larger concern on the materials used within our industry, like natural fibers that are sustainable and available. We’ll also see more consolidations within our industry, especially acquisitions of smaller companies by larger companies. Designers will continue to venture on their own and open their own businesses. And finally, designers and manufacturers will embrace the idea of ‘slow design’—products and interior design will be more curated and thoughtful, with custom developments and meaningful pieces incorporated into the home.”

Noz Nozawa, interior designer and founder of Noz Design
“In 2022, I think (well, I’m going to manifest this!) our clients will have settled into an acceptance of global supply chain delays, and our industry will really be able to parlay that into a spirit of, ‘Good things take a long time.’ If nothing worthwhile comes quickly, I’m predicting more custom work, more local artisan collaborations, and more thoughtful reuse of existing/vintage things.”

David Sutherland, founder of Perennials & Sutherland LLC
“Our industry has been very fortunate throughout the pandemic, and as new variants inevitably come to light, we must be diligent and realistic in dealing with them. FDR said it best: ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ Our supply chains are challenged, but we are improving every day.”

Christi Barbour, founder and partner of Barbour Spangle Design and vice chair of High Point Market Authority
“If we learned just one thing over the last two years, it is the power of relationships! The important partnerships between designer, manufacturer and sales reps continue to strengthen. I have faith that we will become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place for all practicing interior designers. And I expect that we will continue to elevate our services and offerings by tapping into the year-round product resources High Point has to offer.”

Keia McSwain, principal of Kimberly + Cameron Interiors and president of the Black Interior Designers Network
“The subjective beauty of design allows for us to fall in love with different trends, aesthetics and elements over and over again. I predict that 2022 will be much more of a trend-setting year for both manufacturers and designers. As I evolve into my best creative and innovative self, I’ve vowed to break free of the constant trend cycle and go down in history for setting my own.”

Melissa Wilson, executive director of Design Centers International
“In 2022, it is going to be critical that we continue to share information about the industry as we navigate ongoing supply chain challenges. Design centers will continue to play a vital role in connecting all aspects of design community, and the trusted relationships that designers have with showrooms will continue to ensure that they have most up-to-date information about available options, pricing and delivery, so that they can best serve their clients.”

Allison O’Connor, president and CEO of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
“I hope that 2022 brings a continued commitment and focus on inclusion, collaboration, innovation and sustainability: Making furniture by hand—a celebration of craft, quality and creating healthy homes. Sustainability in how we design our homes and how we embrace our interior design partners and our employees to make the world a kinder place. To be bold and innovate as a design-led brand.”

Donna Feldman, founding partner at Dmitriy & Co.
“I believe 2022 is going to be a compelling and powerful year! The value of time and a desire to make an impact will empower individuals and teams to pursue their goals and dreams. We’re going to see a creative renaissance and the emergence of a lot of new talent.”

Michael Cohen, president of Samuel & Sons
“With designers busier than ever and manufacturers struggling with their supply chain, customers will demand a reliable and seamless purchase experience above all else. A strong omnichannel customer experience in 2022 will allow customers to choose their preferred method of shopping—in showrooms, online or in their own library with the assistance of an outside salesperson. The ability to supply the customer with both a wide range of products that are in stock and the opportunity to customize product in a streamlined way will be critically important as well.”

Peter Sallick, CEO of Waterworks and founder of the Design Leadership Network
“After almost two years of navigating uncertainty, I predict the new year will be driven by renewed creativity and ideas.”

Homepage photo: ©jozefmicic/Adobe Stock

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