Our top 5 predictions
‘Good design has the power to enrich lives.’ It’s the sort of statement you find in articles about nature-inspired scatter cushions. Or a new tear-shaped sofa inspired by a rescue elephant named Jelani.
Of course, as an interior design studio, we revere the restorative virtues of a judiciously arranged room. That perfect blend of colours, patterns, shapes and textures is as elusive as it is visceral – capable of arousing our senses and soothing our soul in one hit.
But what about design that aims to solve social problems? Will 2022 see Tomorrow’s World-level innovations capable of protecting our countryside, safeguarding our poor and looking after our elderly?
SPOILER ALERT: Yes.
The pandemic has piqued our need for socially conscious design across multiple disciplines. It’s exposed the perils of overcrowding, of housing shortages, of deficient senior homes. In response, we’re seeing a groundswell of imaginative solutions – workable concepts rooted in pragmatism and commercial smarts.
These solutions herald a design renaissance borne out of a series of global crises. They’re people-centric, heroically accessible, defiantly optimistic, and worthy of our attention.
Modular home manufacturer, ZEDpods, has built 11 homes above a carpark in Bristol.
Creativity soars during times of adversity. And as the housing shortage is one of the biggest crises we face today, we’re bound to see more inventive and visionary solutions to the problem.
This will include building on existing structures where space is hard to come by and Green Belt policy prohibits development. In London alone, up to 41,000 new homes could be built using space available on rooftops.
In Bristol, ZEDpods have already taken *pole* position with 11 prefabricated homes built on stilts above a council-owned carpark. Affordable, sustainable and easily transportable to wherever there is underutilised space.
We’ll see more floating communities, like IJBurg in the Netherlands.
Elsewhere in the country, advances in engineering will unlock redundant flood plains and waterways to build floating homes. We know it works. IJBurg, near Amsterdam’s Central Station, accommodates 18,000 homes on the water, replete with floating jetties and terraces instead of paved footpaths and squares.
30% of this hydro-hybrid town is dedicated to low-income residents. The accommodation is large, light-filled and modern. It’s surrounded by nature. And it’s spared thousands of locals having to travel far and wide in search of property. It’s a big and splashy community-driven success.
Such a blueprint is easily transferrable and could revive our obsolete docks, canals and flooded quarries, provide homes, and foster new pioneering communities. With plans in place to build floating villages in Bute East docks, Cardiff, and Royal Docks, London, we predict a surge of architects and developers clambering for ‘blue space’ in 2022 and beyond.
Opod Tube Housing may get the go-ahead in 2022 to help combat Hong Kong’s housing crisis.
Hong Kong’s poorest live in the most alarming conditions: 16sq ft wire cages, which rent for around £100 a month. Despite being almost seven times smaller than the recommended size of a double prison cell – as stipulated by the Association for the Prevention of Torture – these cages are more expensive per square foot than the city’s luxury towers.
In response to this chronic housing problem, architectural practice, James Law Cybertecture, has created a prototype nano-home out of a giant concrete waterpipe. This sturdy 100sq ft structure has been kitted out with a desk, fold down bed, sink, fridge, microwave and wet room.
The pipes can be stacked to become a low-rise development. Or single units can be slotted into unused urban spaces, such as under flyovers or in between buildings.
While still in its embryonic stage, this cylindrical home, much like its cousin the shipping container, makes good use of an existing industrial material. If urban planning gives it the go-ahead, you could see more of these springing up in unusual places across Hong Kong in 2022.
Trend 2. Revitalised commercial spaces
Redundant spaces will be put to better use in 2022.
Before the pandemic, Centre for London Research found that 22,000 commercial units in the Capital had been sitting empty for 18 months – and half of those for more than two years. Even fully leased offices were only at 11.5% capacity at the start of August this year, according to Remit Consulting.
Imagine what the UK’s bright and aspiring creative minds could do with millions of square feet of unoccupied, discounted space. Especially now that there’s greater flexibility to convert redundant offices into more viable commercial uses, thanks to recent changes to Permitted Development (Use Class E).
Such a favourable amendment to planning legislation will give flatlining high streets and town centres across the country a chance to diversify and prosper. Boutique gyms, microschools, indoor farms, craft shops,
food markets, charities, textile design studios, tea breweries, e-commerce distribution centres – the socioeconomic opportunities are potentially limitless for those with big dreams and a little funding.
Allowing commercial spaces to be repurposed will attract diverse talents. Spark new thinking by cross-pollinating ideas. Bring about surprising collaborations. And breathe new life into bloodless boroughs.
It’s already happening. Start-ups are sprouting like flowers in the crevices of an abandoned warehouse. We foresee this enterprising spirit flourishing in 2022 – with a renewed focus on regeneration not gentrification.
Trend 3. Revamped senior housing
There’s going to be a big drive to create safe and beautiful homes for our elderly.
The UK’s senior housing has emerged as a hotbed of disease-transmission. Poor ventilation. Small, inoperable windows. Zero access to green space. Limited room for social distancing…the list of inadequacies is long and grim.
Designers and developers need to do more to create safe and enriching environments for older people. On the practical side, homes will need dedicated sanitation areas and separate entry points for residents, visitors and staff. Hands-free devices will be essential in helping to prevent cross-contamination. And technology that helps residents stay connected to each other and the outside world will be vital, too.
There’s also the matter of aesthetics. Just because one or two seniors wish to dye their mop a fetching shade of lavender doesn’t mean that all good taste shrivels up past a certain age.
Older people have lived through more fashion fads than most of us could shake a walking stick at. So close attention must be paid to interiors.
As senior housing represents a huge opportunity for construction, developers will need to choose their interior designers carefully. Creating schemes for this sector is a specialist craft. It requires a knowledge of contrasting hues to ease visual strain, certain patterns to aid depth perception, and non-slip fabrics to prevent accidents. A knowledge of furniture that’s beautiful, supportive and customisable is also important.
Even with this knowledge, the pandemic has accelerated our understanding of what succeeds and fails in senior homes. As such, we believe 2022 will be the year these learnings are put into practice.
Trend 4. Air-purifying plants
Air-purifying plants will continue to grow in popularity.
Our love of greenery looks set to keep on growing. According to money.co.uk, searches for air-purifying plants are up by 37%. Popular species include the Catheter and Crouton…sorry, the Calathea and Croton. Also, the fabulously named Scarlet Star Bromeliad, a raunchy-looking flower destined to win Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
Our burgeoning obsession is backed by science. NASA’s Clean Air Study drew up a list of detoxifying foliage. Admittedly, it also pointed out you’d need 100 of these plants to significantly improve your indoor air quality, but hey, that’s not stopping anyone.
Colourful gardens will also be big in 2022 with outdoor spaces festooned in brightly hued parasols, cushions, ceramics and glassware. According to that bastion of the bucolic, CountryLiving, the tinctures to tickle our fancy will be Miami-inspired pinks, blues and mint greens contrasted with splashes of white and coral red.
Trend 5. Palate-pleasing palettes
Food-inspired colours will be the order of the day.
Oh, don’t be like that, no trends piece is complete without a roundup of colour predictions, especially when they’re mostly food based.
Glidden (paints) serves us ‘Guacamole’ as its colour de choix for 2022. While wholly unholy it beats Bertolli, aioli, cannoli and ravioli.
Even light switches aren’t spared the ignominy of far-fetched foodie names. Anyone fancy a Caramel Latte single chunky dimmer switch? Or perhaps a Whipped Cream double plug socket is more to your liking. Thanks to Dowsing & Reynolds, you can order the lot without piling on a single calorie.
If you’d prefer something a little less salivating, Valspar has curated twelve natural hues. They include a rather pleasing custard yellow, called Delighted Moon. And a calming subtle peach called, well, Subtle Peach.
Add to this Changing Rooms’ favourite, Dulux, who brings us hope and encouragement in the form of Bright Skies, and you’ll realise that when it comes to colour, anything goes.
Header image: sourced from Fashionista.
Image 1: sourced from ZEDpods.
Image 2: sourced from National Geographic Magazine.
Image 3: sourced from Dezeen.
Image 4: sourced from The Store Front.
Image 5: sourced from Riverstone Living.
Image 6: sourced from Good Housekeeping.
Image 7: sourced from Shutterstock.