Our 2012 Interior Design Wrap-Up and 2013 Design Forecast

Jay Johnson - In 2012, we had a year of excitement in the field of interior design - but only if you were looking at color and contemporary furniture design. Here's my frank evaluation of the year that was.

  • Color palettes were bold and daring, and strong color blocks dominated both the fashion and home design industry. Pantone's Tangerine Tango led the pack with bright hues replacing cooler jewel tones and muted metallics.
    Color Blocks influenced interior design beaucoup.
  • Mid-century modern continued as a furniture trend and style influencer. There was a glut of "antiques" from the mid-1900s on the market, and young homeowners followed their Mad Men tastes and turned their homes into hip lounges. Personally, I think this was a dreary trend that will soon be waning. Many mid-century pieces were mass produced and they were boring and brown and drekish when they were first produces; time hasn't been kind to them. There are mid-century gems, however, that deserved attention, but I doubt if a majority of homeowners and designers were particularly discerning. Buyer beware!
    Wow - yet another piece of mid-century modern furniture!
  • Modern furniture continued to be sleeker, more sculptural, and more creative. I'm a huge fan of contemporary furniture. Rather than reaching back to the past for inspiration - or creating past styles "with a twist" (a way overused design concept) - many furniture designers created completely new ways to sit, dine, relax, and sleep. 
    Edra's Corallo armchair beautifully combines function and sculpture.
  • I loved the way handmade home goods counterbalanced the glut of mass-produced items, e.g., hand-woven upholstery, bulky yarn rugs, hand-carved wood legs, fine inlays, and bright and colorful dyes on casegoods.
    Handmade goods deserve places of pride in every home.
  • There was caution in the air last year with home decorating. People curbed their spending on luxury goods and furnishings due to breath-holding over the U.S. presidential election and the stalemate in the U.S. Congress. 

Cash-and-carry design stores like CB2 captured design dollars that might have gone into pro decorating and custom work.

So what's ahead for our industry in 2013? No one has a crystal ball and can predict with any accuracy how interior design will go from year to year. HOWEVER, the home design industry is very much in line with fashion, and by looking at fashion edicts - those predictions on colors, for instance, from industry leaders like Pantone - we can definitely predict the hot colors that will show up in a wide range of products, from fabrics and home textiles to flooring, appliances, and wall covering. So here are my predictions (but don't blame me if they don't come to pass!).

  • Professional decorating will hit a new industry high. Many people who weren't decorating last year, or who either held back or settled for quick design fixes at a cash-and-carry stores or discounters like Marshalls/HomeGoods, will come back into the pro designer fold again this year. I'm very confident about this prediction. After the U.S. presidential election and the "fiscal cliff" issues were resolved, many homeowners are now moving forward with decoratingprojects. Many interior designers I know are busier than they were before the recession, and that's an excellent trend. 
    After a quiet 2012, I predict designer showroom traffic and professional decorating business will be on the upturn.
  • The color palette is cooler and more muted this year. Pantone's cool-yet-bright Emerald is their 2013 Color of the Year, and Sherwin-Williams followed suit with a muted shade of green, Aloe. Benjamin Moore embraced Lemon Sorbet, which is on the cooler side of a warm color (it's yellow-ish, but also a color that's barely there, a true goes-with-anything tone). Softer pastels will be big this spring, and I think we're definitely over the color block trend and heading towards a zillion shades of a single color that will all form a single-color matrix within a room, like a room that's decorated with 14 different shades of blue or 24 different shades of green. 
    Softer wall colors and muted everything will likely be on trend.
  • I can't see anyone taking the contemporary furniture design lead away from the Italians. They just continue to push the innovative envelope, and their work is extraordinary. Many of the old-favorite furniture makers from the United States come across a bit too traditional, fussy, and quiet for younger buyers. They're hitching their wagons to older homeowners, the traditional decorators of the past, but they're missing the boat on younger couples who are roaring into the interior design space. With wall colors and general decorating palettes swinging towards the muted side this year, I predict that there will be a stronger uptake on sculptural, contempoary, startling signature and focal pieces for rooms. Italian companies will finish first, French companies second, Dutch companies third. You heard it here first!
    I love Italian contemporary furniture; they're going to rock the industry in 2013.
  • Handmade furniture and accessories will continue to grow in the New Year. I'm just facing reality. As more elements of our lives become mass produced, we yearn for unique artisanal touches in our homes. The mark of a skilled craftsperson, the tactile quality of an artist with imagination - these objects will continue to gain in popularity and command more of our spending and attention.

Elise Wilhelmsen's knitting clock exemplifies the appeal of handmade furniture and accessories.

If you're interested in learning more about wedding and event planning, we encourage you to explore the Sheffield School, New York, NY. Sheffield began as an Interior Design school in 1985, and then expanded our course offerings to train people in other design-related fields, including Feng ShuiWedding and Event Planning, and Jewelry Design. With thousands of active students and more than 50,000 graduates, Sheffield has trained more design professionals than any school in the world.

Request a free Sheffield School catalog describing our distance education courses.