A Design For Life… The Kevin McCloud Column

Designer, writer and television presenter, Kevin McCloud leapt into our consciousness with his vastly successful Grand Designs show on Channel 4. This month, the affable architect looks ahead to some design trends that might rise to prominence over the next few years.

I get asked a lot about future design trends and initiatives, and the truth is I wouldn’t know what a trend was if it hit me in the face! Over the years I’ve come to regard trends as very lucid, irregular things – they come about quickly, are mixed and remixed, then disappear out of nowhere; and with interior design that can be problematic given the semi-permanency of how we furnish our homes. It’s not like saying ‘this pair of trousers are out of fashion this year; I’ll wear a different pair tomorrow’. If you’ve added wood panelling to every wall in your home, it’s going to take a while to fix.

What I will say is what happens at the beginning of every century in design and architecture is that people stop and look back at the last century and say, ‘oh my God, we didn’t get any of that, quick, let’s have some’, and you get this rush of building and design and furniture which is kind of retro – we’ve seen it over the past decade or so with a complete craze for anything vintage from 1930-90s.

It’s fair to say we’re always looking forward as far as home design goes, both architecturally and in the patterns and designs within. If I had to put money on a style or theme over the next couple of decades, it would be eco-based. We’re seeing a real retune to very natural, sustainable materials – basic stuff.

Yet also, thanks to changes in technology and the way that we design, often using iPhones, we can survey and model things really cheaply now.

So that means we are going to see all manner of goods – from home products right through to personal stuff like shoes – made not in some factory in Germany, China or Portugal, but in a shop round the corner from where you live using really sophisticated 3D printing techniques.

Certainly, a look into the future is a view back towards bespoking our homes in our own design. The era of the IKEA mass-market products has helped us a lot, but technology is now freeing us to style our homes in much more personal ways. It will mean we can turn back into being a nation who make things for ourselves, in a bespoke way, which I think is a very exciting future.


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