Kaitlin Kingrey

by Kaitlin Kingrey

Associate, Senior Interior Designer

Top 6 Design Trends of 2021

  • JANUARY 25, 2021
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Kaitlin Kingrey, Associate, Interior Designer, shares her annual predictions for the top trends of the year in the design world, and beyond.

With the long-awaited culmination of 2020 and the drastic mental, physical, social, and societal changes we endured, it comes with little surprise that the design trends for 2021 place focus on a mix of wellness, adaptability and sustainability. These forecasted trends are driven by a mid-pandemic world in hopes for better days ahead.

The top 6 trends of 2021 call for design opportunities which include a bright space to cultivate excitement and joy, adaptability in order to fuel innovation and an emphasis on the care for oneself.

WGSN, a renowned forecasting company, and Pantone, an organization which over 10 million designers rely for color consistency when creating, both agree that we need a little sunshine in our lives, especially after the year 2020. Restorative natural brights will be used in an effort to re-introduce warmth, energy, joy and hope into our surroundings- in every avenue from wall color to furniture. Natural brights, like illuminating yellow, are making a comeback. And, while the notion of adding ‘pops of color’ may seem like a cliche design concept, it’s a versatile trend that holds real value in 2021.
Pastel material palette with donuts

Conversely, due to the stay-at-home-order and increased time spent indoors in 2020, forecasters also anticipate use of grounding gray tones - reminiscent of the stability and familiarity of the home base.

Scientists have found that we often choose colors that “evoke certain moods or feelings.” However, these researchers have evidence that while color does evoke certain emotions, the effect of a certain color depends on the makeup of an individual- how they were brought up, situational factors and personal feelings.

It should come as no surprise that there has been an increase in attention to the safety and security of people in response to the COVID pandemic. With respect to the increase of safety and security, new product innovations will continue to saturate the design industry as we begin to design for re-normalization.

Pandemic-friendly innovations such as the foot pull, UV light disinfection technology, and prefabricated, portable hand washing stations will serve to provide designers with the tools they need to create holistic, flexible, design solutions that increase user comfort levels.

In a study conducted in mid-July of 2020, over 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health had been negatively impacted by stress and anxiety due to the Coronavirus. Since July, this number has only become compounded by the emergence of significant political and societal anxieties.

As a result, immersive wellness and attention to mental health has become paramount as people slowly begin to transition back to the workplace and adapt to the “new normal.” Look for an increase in wellness-driven opportunities inside the new workplace. Creation of opportunities for physical activity through in-house gyms, yoga classes, or access to treadmill desks; and dedicated spaces for rest, restoration, or counseling services to support mental wellbeing. Fitness, sleep and meditation will all become more crucial than ever in the immediate future following the pandemic.

Employee-centric design concepts like the M+A respite room aid in providing people with a safe space where they can find relief from the hustle and bustle of the workplace. Backed by evidence, the M+A respite room is designed to support the central nervous system, decreasing hyperarousal and reducing external stimuli.
M+A Respite Room

In response to WFH, people needed to quickly and effectively adapt their home into a place that could double as both a workspace and a living space. Though WFH may not be a permanent option for all companies, the concept of flexibility through remote work has become the norm. In response to this need, dynamic new at-home furniture products and architectural solutions are hitting the market, providing the opportunity for workers to create boundaries that separates work from play… even in a studio apartment setting.


For example, we will see a rise in bringing back murphy beds so a bedroom can double as an office or gym space. This also could introduce more sliding acoustical partitions to separate off rooms from some privacy to work.

In the midst of quarantine, many found solace in rediscovering their creative roots through the art of craft. Plus, Gen Z and younger generations are going more analog with their activities and interests. Many social clubs are forming around things like board games or film photography because they want time away from devices. These are also our entrepreneurs who are not going to follow the typical work path, they prefer to create their own or startup their own businesses.

As a result, limited-edition, small-batch, hand-crafted artisan pieces have flooded the market. Further, these independent pieces will be used in design to storytell; representing the importance of the creative outlet and its impact on society.
Interior office cafe

Custom furniture is something that will leave a legacy, and in a world of drop culture and shortened attention spans, something that will create history is more appealing than ever before. Instant gratification has lost its shine, and now, something that requires time, and talent, like these custom wooden booths from our friends at local woodworking company Edgework Creative are coveted and celebrated.

In a period of time where so much is seemingly out of our control, consumers yearn to feel as though they can make a difference in the world. The ability to choose products that reflect individual values is becoming increasingly important, particularly to younger generations like Gen Z. Whether sustainably resourced; recycled; fair-trade; locally produced; organic; vegan; biodegradable; (and so much more)… people are becoming more readily able to pick what best suits their lifestyle. The power of “choice” is perhaps best evident through the statistics that reiterate this point. Evidence proves that consumers are so committed to the story behind the product, many are willing to spend more on a product in order to support its cause.

More than ever, young talent is enticed by companies with strong culture and solid CSR programs. Large businesses have the opportunity to use their platform to incur change and improve the world around them. Young professionals are choosing to work for companies with values that align with their own, and who can provide them with added opportunities to participate in volunteer events and give-back programs through work.

These same concepts translate into the design industry. With the introduction of green building certification programs like LEED, WELL, TRUE, and so many more, the importance of sustainable design is skyrocketing. Improved ability to recycle and reuse building materials, combined with the rise of manufacturer take-back programs is just one way tha designers are gaining new tools to design with the environment in mind.

Kaitlin Kingrey

by Kaitlin Kingrey

Associate, Senior Interior Designer

Award-winning Interior Designer, Kaitlin Kingrey, is the brilliant mind behind nationally recognized workplaces. She is a responsive designer who is able to not only present beautiful designs but also befriend everyone on the project team and earn their trust for innovative ideas. When Kaitlin isn't hard at work, she enjoys hiking and exploring new places.