According to Oxford Dictionaries, youthquake was the word of 2017, describing a bundle of recent cultural, political and social changes driven by young people — and young people are set to continue to shape major design trends in the UK in 2018.
Millennials who came of age in 2000 and shortly after are now joined by Generation Z, who are just finding their adult feet. In London these young consumers are most likely to be renters, looking for lightweight portable furniture, preferably with a dual purpose, and intangibles such as good internet access.
“The young are reshaping our lifestyles,” confirms Robert Pearce, whose Futon Company has five London stores. “They are nomadic and less materialistic, or may still live with their parents but hang out elsewhere.”
HOME GROWN AND LOCAL
Nomadic young Londoners like their designers to live similar lifestyles to theirs — maybe running a successful firm from a home desk, or even the sofa.
Take interior surfaces and textiles designer Kit Miles, 29, who has won a string of awards and now has his wallpaper books in Liberty.
At just 26, Charles Dedman has a prestigious furniture Design Guild Mark for his Turner Carver chair. His generation grew up with computers and the internet. Social media has expanded their profiles and orders for their work: “Our education has taught us to research, design and communicate from home.”
Woolwich furniture maker Sebastian Cox, 31, was in business by his last year at Lincoln University and now has a team of 10. He illustrates the “local” trend with his label.
“Around 90 per cent of my orders come from Dulwich to Dalston,” says Cox, who holds a Design Guild Mark for his kitchen by deVOL. He uses British timbers, some sourced from a customer’s own old cut-down trees.
Makers such as Cox and Dedman are fusing craft and technology, adeptly using computer-controlled machines for hand-assembled and hand-finished designs, often with a traditional aesthetic.
CUSTOMERS KNOW BEST
Social media has fostered more individuality. “Consumers are now their own curators,” says trends agency Nelly Rodi, presenting this theme at next week’s Maison & Objet design show in Paris. Bespoke is a buzzword this year, and individuality will be a key component of London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour in March.
Heal’s has “designed by you”, a new service to adjust upholstery, tables and shelving to suit customers’ needs, while John Lewis makes curtains to measure in only seven days.
Exclusive home collections from large retailers are stunning this year. Sainsbury’s, led by design manager Andrew Tanner, has grown its design team from 13 to 22, offering new products created “in house”.
Asda, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and online retailer Very all have appealing homewares for spring, while textile designer Martha Coates, 29, is spearheading original pattern design at Habitat.
Internet shopping now makes up a considerable 17 per cent of all retail sales in the UK, and is growing at 10 per cent year on year. We do more of it than anywhere in Europe with the exception of Norway, aided by mobile-friendly apps, one-tap buying and same-day deliveries.
Sophisticated software helps us to plan rooms and colour schemes and “chat bots” answer our questions. But increasingly “real shopping” supports the internet. Click-and-collect immediately brings smaller goods to convenient local collection points that often open late. Ikea now has a collection point at Westfield.
GREY’S HERE TO STAY
And what of colours in 2018? No one wants a quick-to-date fashion colour for a large purchase, such as a sofa, so grey remains the favoured neutral for interiors.
Lavish green: leaf patterns, banks of house plants and window boxes are set to be even more prevalent this year
But we’ll be seeing more green, popularly expressed in leafy patterns, banks of house plants and lavish planting on terraces and in window boxes.
Pantone’s Ultra Violet, trumpeted as the colour of 2018, has been trashed on Instagram and will have marginal impact — though maybe it will be used in muted versions or for small accessories.
Technology permeates every corner of design, from the way items are made to how they are used and sold.
Surprising futures: QR codes, augmented reality and voice recognition permeate every corner of design
Watch out for touch controls, “learned” programmes and lots of voice recognition — for example, in new LG televisions.
The connected home features appliances linked to each other via a single control.
“Augmented” or “virtual” reality will illuminate shopping choices, and QR codes are set to make a surprising comeback.