One year of COVID-19: How the pandemic is influencing home living
Coronavirus has been shaping our lives for a year now. As well as changing our day-to-day lives, the pandemic is changing how we relate to our living spaces. Our homes have become the centre of our lives. What impact did the last twelve months have on the furniture trade? Which interiors trends are emerging for life with and after coronavirus?
(Foto: Nani Marquina)
Nils Ahrenberg, Germany
Design Academy Eindhoven, Design, Furniture Design & Interior Architecture
COVID-19 interiors trends: Home is the new place to be
Your office, canteen, school, gym and home – all rolled into one. Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, this has been the reality for many households for just over a year now. Although we had no choice in the matter, our own four walls have become a new hotspot. The more erratic the outside world seems, the more importance we place on having a safe haven. In times of uncertainty, our own four walls offer us safety and comfort. Living spaces need to adjust to fulfil these new requirements. The home is becoming a multifunctional “being” space
Home schooling and working from home – the new normal
In these times, when offices are disappearing and schools are closed, it is hardly surprising that demand for office furniture is skyrocketing. The online furniture retailer “Made” saw growth of 75% in its office supplies segment over the last 12 months. Compact, space-saving solutions are particularly popular. Customers want to combine work and private life during the daytime – and then separate them again in the evening. Small urban flats often lack the space for a dedicated office room. So what is needed are clever solutions that can be integrated as subtly as possible into the living room, kitchen or bedroom. Trend Consultant Oona Horx-Strathern of the Zukunftsinstitut refers to this blending of the work and home environments as “Hoffice”. Even in the post-pandemic world, the need for a workstation will need to be an integral and commonplace consideration when designing our living spaces – just as a bedroom or living room is. Indeed, a distinct trend for the post-COVID era is already becoming evident: Many Germans have taken a liking to the new, more flexible mode of working and they want it to continue into the future.
During the day, the bedroom becomes an office, the kitchen is transformed into a classroom and in the evening, the whole family is in the living room. The diverse way that every room is used calls for clear design concepts. “Zoning” is the order of the day. In open-plan spaces in particular, shelves, screens, sofas and large kitchen units can divide up the space. They provide clear, visual boundary markers and create more private spaces.
The rise of smart devices
Although multifunctional furniture offers intelligent solutions for optimising living space, the furniture sector has found another clever approach to making our everyday lives even more convenient: smart home devices. Solutions such as digital voice assistants, fridges that automatically order food from your local supermarket and app-controlled ovens are all very popular. In keeping with the zeitgeist, they are effective, practical and time-efficient.
But in the midst of all this functionality, there still needs to be plenty of space for individuality. For many people, their interior design “look” reflects their own personality. The motto of the last 12 months has been “substance over style”. Customers are reflecting on what is important and are yearning for tranquillity and a feeling of security. Interior design trends are therefore dominated by natural materials. Oak, maple and birch are particularly popular at the moment. They give any piece of furniture a warm, natural look. Metals such as copper, brass and bronze add warm accents to the home. Colour trends are also reflecting the yearning for a cosy home: gentle pastel shades and warm, earthy tones are being combined with powerful accents to create a harmonious interplay of colour.
The coronavirus pandemic is changing consumer behaviour
In the future, interiors will need to fulfil new, self-imposed standards. Seeing as customers are spending significantly more time within their own four walls, quality requirements are also getting higher. The act of retreating to the home has a name: cocooning . And this is an interior trend that will continue beyond the end of the pandemic. So our living space needs to fulfil more functions than it did before, while also being attractive and cosy. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have been giving their homes more care and attention and are spending a lot of time on their furnishings. This is also evident in a survey undertaken by online retailer “Made”. Of the 1000 participants, more than a quarter said that they had rearranged the furniture in their home during the last year. They invested in new furniture or home accessories at least once a month. Before the pandemic, that money was spent on expensive holidays. Nevertheless, customers are taking a needs-oriented approach and are more prudent with their purchases. Does the new sofa meet all of my requirements? Can I maybe do some DIY to upgrade this dining table? Customers are spending more time asking these questions before they invest. And it isn’t all about whether or not to buy a new piece of furniture. The way the furniture is produced is playing an ever-growing role. Vegan and second-hand furniture are becoming increasingly popular.
The new way to shop
Although the options for shopping are limited in the COVID-19 era, furniture retailers are resourceful. Creative solutions such as Click & Collect are gaining ground. Customers can add the desired items to their online shopping basket. The items are then available for collection from the store shortly afterwards. For those wanting a touch of normality in these unprecedented times, there is the option of shopping by appointment. This involves pre-booking an exclusive in-store shopping slot. Another trend that has developed over the last year is that of shopping via social media channels. With social shopping, customers benefit from personalised offers and reduced prices.
Turnover changes in the interiors industry
The way that customers are very focused on their own homes is making an impact on the furniture industry – as is the concept of the home reflecting one’s own personality. The interiors industry entered 2020 in full swing with imm cologne and plenty of new ideas and trends. In March came the turning point. COVID-19 shaped everyday life, including the furniture trade. The sector was able to recover from the absolute low point, which was last April, over the rest of the year. The more time customers spent at home, the more they focused on their furnishings. Over the course of the year, spending power increased again significantly. Consequently, the annual turnover of the furniture industry only dropped by just under four percent last year, a relatively modest decline compared to many other sectors. In these uncertain times, many customers are investing their money in enduring items. They are refocusing on things that are more solid and lasting – their kitchens in particular. The role of the kitchen as the hub of the home has been further consolidated by the coronavirus crisis. The kitchen furniture sector is the clear frontrunner in the interiors industry, with a 4.5 percent increase in turnover. It seems that a time of crisis is a time for the kitchen.
What will remain post-COVID?
Over the last year, we have become more closely attached to our homes and our requirements have changed. The combination of flexibility, quality and cosiness will continue to shape the way we live – even after COVID-19. Our work and our living spaces will increasingly merge and blend together. Rooms in the home will become more multifunctional and will need to be both sociable spaces and places of retreat.
Do you want to give your home a new look as well? Find some exciting inspiration at ambista!