1stDibs, a leading marketplace for extraordinary design, has announced the results of its fifth annual Interior Designer Trends Survey, taken by more than 750 interior designers from around the world. The data from these expert insights indicate the trends we can anticipate for 2022, including popular colors, iconic vintage design pieces and more, plus a look at what’s going out of style.
In many ways, this year’s survey results suggest that designers are going green. Not only is the color slated to be extremely popular in the year ahead, but biophilic design trends continue to come out on top. Conversely, primary and secondary colors along with the grandmillennial trend are falling out of vogue.
New to the survey this year are insights on how designers are shopping for art, a market that 1stDibs has continued expanding into in recent years. The survey indicates that sculpture is on the rise, modern and abstract art is in and clients of designers care more about style than price or creating a long-term investment when it comes to art collecting.
Finally, this year’s survey results showcase interesting trends regarding how and where design firms are operating, most likely driven by the pandemic. Specifically, there is a change in the size and composition of the firms, with more reporting that they are solo practitioners, and owners/principals now accounting for 77% of the sample (up from 41% three years ago). The data suggests that more interior designers have left firms to start their own design practices. Additionally, many designers have also left the Northeast to live in other parts of the country. In 2018, the largest geographic segment of the survey was completed by designers in the Northeast (51%), and this year the West and Southeast make up the largest footprint (55%), with the bulk concentrated in the West (39%).
“The design industry is always changing — new trends emerge, old trends are reinterpreted and our perception of beauty continually evolves. Additionally, the last two years have been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, with our homes and corporate offices taking on new meaning,” said Anthony Barzilay Freund, editorial director at 1stDibs. “It’s interesting to see the spike in ‘solopreneurship,’ and the new geographical concentrations of the design industry.”
Here’s what the interior designers had to say:
Part 1: What’s in for 2022
Color Trends: Green Is Supreme, Warm Tones Reign
Many paint brands declared shades of green as their Color of the Year for 2022, and the designers of the 1stDibs survey seem to agree. Both dark greens, like emerald, and lighter shades, like sage, were noted by respondents to be popular in the coming year. In fact, emerald is the number one color of choice for designers at 24% of the vote.
In general, warmer earth tones like burnt orange and tan continue to feature prominently in interiors and are slated to remain popular.
The New Blue: Cobalt Cancels Navy
Another haute hue to capture a top ranking is cobalt, which is trending up and falls right behind the earth tones. As the most popular blue this year, cobalt bested navy, which had the most dramatic decline in responses out of all the hues compared to last year, dropping a whopping 43% in interest.
Design Trends Also Lean Green
For designers next year, going green extends beyond color trends and into green thumbs and green living. When asked what design trends will remain popular in 2022, almost all designers selected sustainable materials (nearly universal at 97%) and plants (93%), which both reflect a desire to remain in harmony with the environment.
Top patterns and finishes for 2022 extend this ethos, with organic motifs, bold and large scale prints and plant patterns as the top three choices for designers.
Materials slated to become popular are all options that are either derived from nature or have a tactile finish, including wood, plaster, natural materials, bronze and leather.
Eames Chairs and Noguchi Lamps are Top Iconic Designs
From a list of 11 iconic seating options, 20% of designers dubbed the Eames Chair as the top trending piece, followed closely by the Mario Bellini Camaleonda sofa at 18%. At third place in seating is the Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair at 11%. Tied for fourth at 10% each are two options in ultra-plush seating: the Afra and Tobias Scarpa Siriana sofa and Ligne Roset’s beloved Togo design. Unsurprisingly, survey results indicate that the 1970s trend remains strong, with 36% of respondents noting that the decade would be most likely to make a comeback.
In the lighting category, over a quarter of designers named Noguchi lamps as the most iconic design, capturing 26% of the vote. The second highest lighting options were Louis Paulsen pendants and chandeliers at 19%.
In general, designers reported that the styles of furniture they plan to use more or the same of are contemporary, followed by Brutalist, Art Deco and Mid-century Modern.
Part 2: What’s Out for 2022
Primary and Secondary Colors Stay Behind
The least popular colors for 2022 are millennial pink, tangerine, light yellow, violet and bright red. Each of these hues captured less than 5% of designer votes, with red earning just 1%.
In addition to declining interest in navy (down 43%), mustard yellow saw its numbers slide (down 27%), as did light grey (down 25%).
Instagram Fads? Neon Signs, Arches, Cane Seating and More
Designers are passing on several trends made popular through social media in recent years. Specifically, neon signs received the lowest votes when asked about design trends expected to remain popular in 2022, with only 13% of the vote. Also at the bottom of the list were black interiors, grandmillenial, cane seating and arches.
Structured Seating is Out, Falling Behind Plush Designs
With everyone spending so much time at home, it seems that any sofa or chair beyond the most plush, comfortable options is out of favor. When polled on preferred iconic seating designs, Marcel Breuer’s Cesca Chair and Wassily Chair each earned just 3% of the vote, while the Panton Chair, a 1960s Danish design iconic for being the first S-shaped plastic chair, earned just 1% of votes.
Part 3: All About Art
What’s Trending: Abstract, Contemporary and Sculptural Art
The most popular art styles in 2022 are expected to be abstract (the only style to win the clear majority at 54%), followed by contemporary (48%) and modern (42%).
The medium that designers plan to use more of in 2022 is sculpture, with 48% of designers indicating they anticipate an increase in use, and 41% sharing they’ll incorporate it the same amount year over year. Drawings, paintings, photographs and prints will remain popular, with 50% or more of designers indicating they will incorporate them in their projects, at a consistent rate year over year.
Least likely to be used are ephemera or posters, with 17% of designers indicating they will use this style less in 2022, and 44% already not using this style in their projects at all.
Most Design Projects Involve Sourcing Art
Overall, 61% of projects involve sourcing art, affirming that designers see art, in all its forms, as integral to the overall success of an engagement with a client. Designers who are tuned into a client’s artistic tastes stand a better chance of having a more satisfied client in the end. 52% of designers do not work with art advisors, with 44% of designers using art advisory services (either their client’s, a separate third party or their own in-house resource).
When asked what designers think clients value most in an art purchase, the top choice was the style of the piece at 55%. Other reasons were rated much lower, including the investment opportunity (14%) and even the price (13%).
The Web is a Top Resource for Art, According to Designers
The number one place that designers go to source art for clients, based on survey results, is online (31%), closely followed by galleries (30%) and then Instagram (16%). Auction houses earned just 8% of the vote, with art fairs earning just 4%.
Part 4: Trends of the Trade
Demographic data from respondents point to two key findings emerging among interior designers. First, senior talent from larger design firms are opening their own businesses. More firms report that they are solo practitioners (31% with one employee), and owners/principals now account for 77% of the 2022 survey sample (up from 41% in 2018).
Even though the size of interior design firms has been declining, the average number of projects completed in the past 12 months has remained relatively flat since 2020 (averaging about six projects a year), meaning that design firms are doing more with less staff. Still, designers remain optimistic, with 67% saying that they expect to complete more projects in 2022.
This year, 79% of interior designer respondents say they are primarily focused on residential projects, up from 71% in 2018. Designers report that a significant portion of their work is coming from new clients (56%). While most are working on primary residences, a sizable proportion (28%) are involved in work on secondary homes. These findings are in line with the trend seen during COVID of homeowners migrating out of urban areas and into second homes in suburban communities, which the 1stDibs Trade team notes has led to the influx of first-time clients for the trade.
The percent of items bought online spiked in 2020 (73%) and has cooled off in 2021 to 66%. Expectations about the share of online buying have also dropped, implying more visits to stores/galleries in 2022. However, we certainly haven’t returned to pre-pandemic shopping habits, with that number now still 10 percentage points higher than in 2019 (56%).
Linked HERE is a bank of images illustrating the trend insights, including products available on 1stDibs.com and designer projects from the 1stDibs 50.
Methodology of the Designer Survey
1stDibs commissioned researchers with Surveys & Forecasts, LLC, a full-service strategic research consultancy based in South Norwalk, CT, to conduct more than 750 online interviews between September 1 and October 31, 2021. The interior designers who were interviewed are part of the 1stDibs Trade 1st Program.