It’s a big year. We have the election, Artificial Intelligence, Gen Alpha is coming for Gen Z, and TikTok is dominating whatever dumb thing is hot or not. I find that predictions are hard to separate from what we WANT to happen, but I put on my objectivity hat and we’ll only know in 2025 if I’m right. Here we go.
Untrained, Rebellious, And Weird Will Dominate Our Attention
Neutrals are less exciting to look at, and “modern farmhouse” (yes, including mine) is just not terribly visually desired anymore. The designers and spaces that are grabbing our attention are doing super unpredictable things, with way more of an artistic approach (think Reath Design and Beata Heuman). Bold color choices, and so much rule-breaking but almost in a way that dismisses rules in the first place. It reminds me a little bit of the early 2000s (yes, 20 years ago), when “styling” became a thing and we just did whatever the hell we wanted to and called it cool. Now, this doesn’t make me rethink anything major in our house (nor should you in yours), but as we start thinking about the other house on the property I want to use it much more as a creative laboratory and do some really fun stuff. I’m not sure that this will become mainstream as it is hard to execute well and if not done well it won’t have as much longevity and livability (The Studio McGee style home will still remain popular) but the attraction towards the “wild” is certainly pervading social media and it’s exciting to watch.
The “Uncomfortable” And “Impractical” Is Making A Strange Comeback
Again, people are *visually* sick of the practical and the boring (and I’m not one to talk, I have far too many “only look at” chairs, one being shaped like a literal wooden hand) and are making some impractical choices. Think tiled countertops, furniture with hard bases that definitely bruise shins, and hard office-style modular sofas (think the chiclet sofa). Am I into this? Of course not, but I understand the rejection of everything being so practical during the “peak comfort” years of 2020-2022. I’m seeing the younger generation (and other design renegades) opting for cool and throwing out practicality (or perhaps honestly just not fully knowing that they are opting out of practicality). Everyone wants a statement EVERYTHING and there is this rejection against timelessness (which goes along with the “doomsday opulence”). Warning: Be careful with impractical hard finishes in more classic style homes, it will date the house – but also, screw it, GO FOR IT!!!! But I also def want to be careful with timelessness and how long you ACTUALLY want to sit on that chiclet sofa.
Bold Colors Over Safe Neutrals
All of us who designed “safer” homes in the “California casual” style that ruled the last 10 years might be tempted to slap a coat of dark red on their kitchen cabinets. I’m so here for all of the colors. If you are wondering how much color to incorporate and are scared to do it wrong, I have a whole blog post planned on this (because I’m with you). I will say that I think we’ve reached peak “color drenching” – I know and think that there will always be the right room for it, but something to consider because when done wrong it looks like you didn’t want to take the time to mask off. I think that bold colors with another accent trim bold color will be everywhere.
AI Will Fool/Confuse Us, Take Some Of Our Jobs, But Also Maybe Help Us???
It’s here and not going anywhere so we need to figure out how to use it as a tool to help our lives, careers, and homes (hoping policies and regulators will keep us safe, obviously). The AI abilities are growing daily so to try to predict how it will affect us all in 2024 is hilarious. But here’s what I think – stand-out creativity can’t be AI’d, but generic “creative” work can be (and will) more and more (think AI blog posts for companies versus hiring a writer – not condoning, just predicting). Photos of homes will be AI’d to the point that we don’t know what is real or fake (thus increasing our dependence on truth and honesty from creators). My hope and prediction is that someone will develop an AI-driven app that will allow us all to plug in a photo of our room and try out new paint colors, new wallpapers, a new sofa, etc, in a way that looks really realistic, thus helping us make confident decisions. Of course, there are programs you can do that with but they are hard to learn and cumbersome (or so bad they don’t help). But boy am I excited for the day when I can see whether or not taking the paneling up to the ceiling in the living room (a hefty cost and decent construction) would solve my living room woes.
My other hope is that this “threat” makes us challenge our creativity and imagination and simply put produce non-AI-able designs. AI will be able to design a decent room by mining the internet for rules, finding products that “work together” and then putting them on a board, and honestly maybe that’s ok – I’m a big fan of accepting what we can’t stop and many people who can’t afford the luxury of design will have more AI design help. But it’s our job as creatives and design enthusiasts to do what they can’t, grow our imagination, push our creativity, and to me that is exciting. Maybe “simple but special” will no longer be my mantra. WHO AM I EVEN IN 2024?!
TikTok “Trend” Cycle Makes It Impossible To Know What Is In/Out (Permission To Stop Caring?)
The trends grow, explode and die so fast, so everything is kinda “in” and “out” at the same time. GOOD LUCK!! Sometimes they are ridiculous but they are all a thread in the cultural fabric that is fun to analyze and does say something about us and the times. Again, I think what does well on social media, what the algorithm feeds us, might not be where people actually want to live (think runway to ready-to-wear clothes). Just because celebrities aren’t wearing pants anymore, literally donning underwear and tights to events, doesn’t mean that normal people will. I love the good versions of it all, honestly, and love that we don’t have a mono-culture in the design world. But boy is it increasingly hard for brands and designers to track what to do next – what to make, who to try to sell it to, and what will “hit”. You can’t do it all and yet the sense I’m getting from the larger retailers is that they sure are trying. Still, most of the home goods buying power remains in the 35-50-year range (for obvious reasons), and yet what we want is so different than what Gen Z wants which is what dominates the headlines. So who do you sell to? I’m seeing some brands going after the Gen Z/alpha world assuming they are banking on future brand loyalty, but I’m so curious if that is working or if it’s just a desperate grab. A mature 50-thousand-foot view of it all tells us that it all doesn’t matter, that what we buy shouldn’t be based on marketing or trends, but it’s impossible to escape and yet still fun to think about. I just find the whole thing fascinating and I’m sure glad I’m not in marketing for a large company right now and instead will continue to have a flexible point of view that embraces all the good everywhere, without pressure to submit to it (hopefully).
This also solidifies the importance of personal style and having a distinct creative voice – something that often doesn’t really happen til you are in your mid-30s (IMHO). So what we are seeing is a lot of creativity and playing by a younger creative generation, but I think my generation – Older millennials/Gen X will do more of the watching and less of the consuming of these trends.
Craving Newness = Customizing EVERYTHING Will Become Easier And Will Explode In Popularity
Again, due to the ubiquity of the internet (which also provides design democratization that we love), we are all kinda sick of seeing the same thing and crave newness. This has been true since we came out of lockdown (2021) but I think it will continue to grow with most of us wanting something unique, something that represents our personalities that others don’t have (thus really disrupting the market). But historically “unique” isn’t scalable so how are entrepreneurs and design brands going to meet this need? Maybe this will be another AI innovation – where it’s easier to find or create the perfect broken stripe fabric that I haven’t seen before, or maybe it’s more on-the-ground flea market shopping (and live social media around it) because thrifting and vintage is so big right now. But I bet/hope that more Minted or Spoonflower brands will pop up. I don’t think this is necessarily going to be for the masses, but for design enthusiasts and people with more money and time, I see customization taking off this year even more.
Scandinavian Design Recedes, Euro “Wackiness” Is Prevailing, But Is Mid-Century Coming Back???
I will always love and prefer the simplicity of Scandinavian design, but right now we are seeing color/pattern and maximalism grabbing our attention. I say “grabbing attention” more than dominating because I’m unsure if it’s going to be mainstream, or if it’s just something we like to look at. I’m here for it and excited to add some eccentricities where it makes sense and still looks like “me”. While I will stand by the argument that the good of every decade and style is ALWAYS in, I do think that high-quality mid-century will be back soon (in contrast to all the feminine shapes of the last six years). So if you are just about to sell that Rosewood armoire from the 1960s maybe hang tight a bit.
People Are Going To Be Painting And Decorating EVERYTHING (Ceilings, Floors, Trim)
Pierre Yovanovitch painted the beams of this hotel’s ceiling in 2018 (which didn’t break the internet but I bookmarked it as something to try) and then Marco Zamora recently did his (but only after I bought a ton of washi tape to create a pattern on mine, which of course I didn’t post about but I swear it!!!). The point is we are taking surfaces that we typically would do something safe with and then doing something creative with them. Think unexpectedly shaped carpentry details, murals on ceilings, and painted patterns on doorways. I love this because paint is so reversible (well, can be unless you are like me and have a lot of paneling which makes it so much harder to repaint because you have to mask off and spray). Therefore I think our favorite paint brands with the best colors are going to boom this year. White is done, folks! Color EVERYWHERE is in!!
More Vintage In Mass Retailers
Vintage and thrifting are so huge right now because again, people want unique. So how do retailers compete?? One thing that has always endeared me to Rejuvenation is that they still sell vintage on their site, despite being owned by Williams-Sonoma. I know NOTHING about their business but I know that when I had the online vintage flea market the overhead to shoot, post, list, and ship was far greater than we made (thus the shutdown). It’s unscalable and the profit margin is slim to none. HOWEVER, when brands do this (including Urban Outfitters) it’s just cool and it endears us to them. It’s like this year’s “maker collaboration” (which I hope brands continue to do). It makes me want to do more in-person vintage markets or have a booth, just to explore that fun (without just hoarding it). I also hope that vintage dealers like my friend Annie of Shop Wilma get hired by these companies to consult, curate, or simply pick her brain/eye.
So to be clear – what is on social media is not necessarily what the masses want in their homes – is what the younger more social media generation of creators is publishing (because your job as a creative in your 20s is to GO FOR IT, experiment and do wacky shit!!). But the move to boldness and quirk is real and I’m VERY excited.