Studying color, style and material trend forecasts for 2011 and beyond helps to better understand what the new, risk-averse, cost-sensitive, younger consumer will find delightful in the future as far as color, pattern and texture.
Several recent business opportunities have provided me with some global insights into these future trends, as international design elements increasingly impact U.S. design trends, causing us to rethink, remix and even replace our surfacing materials, creating a new design paradigm.
First, let’s look at what the marketers are saying. Trend watchers have been clear: Designers will serve younger consumers who are as comfortable being a global citizen as they are an American one. They appreciate the beauty of pattern, texture and variety created by digitalized designs applied to man-made materials. Unlike their parents, they do not care what others think of their design sensibilities. They like everything – dancing between Traditional and Contemporary – focusing only on pleasing themselves.
Interestingly, they do not plan on keeping the products they select for a long time. If it is portable, they know they can sell it on e-Bay or Craig’s List. If it’s a permanent installation and a new innovation catches their eye – they think they can simply resurface over the old. So what we can we learn from abroad that will help address this consumer of the future?
My research began with an international design tour in Spain. This past February, Tile of Spain (The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association) sponsored a group of architects, designers and editors on a tour of Cevisama 2010: The International Ceramic Tile and Bath Furnishings Show. Prior to the show, attendees enjoyed a wonderful architectural tour of Granada in southern Spain. The Moorish design influence on architecture in this part of the Spanish countryside demonstrated how intricate patterns repeated in a large scale format can appear far less “busy” than smaller installations. This design observation may be useful in 2011+.
Concurrently, I worked with DuPont on its exhibit for the recent Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (KBIS). In our planning sessions, the DuPont Surfaces team shared the worldwide color and design trends they have identified.
These two design experiences have given me new information about the changes taking place in the decorative surfacing materials category. They have also exposed me to a wide variety of new material selections that are available, providing a more diverse array of options to present to clients.
Key Style Trends
Through these recent travel experiences, I’ve noted the emergence of four key style trends that are having an impact on the decorative surfacing category.
First, sustainable and eco-friendly credentials are an expected part of product engineering, serving as the foundation of the design, not just the highlight.
The consumer of the future expects us to have taken care of all of the environmental concerns for them so that they can focus on creativity as the vital ingredient of their new space. Manufacturers in all segments are using technology to expand their sustainability efforts. The tile manufacturers focused on eco-friendly products in several ways, the major one being slimmer tiles that are also bigger in size.
The benefits of thinner tiles are various:
Slim tiles that are lightweight can be installed over old tiles.
Transportation costs are reduced.
These tiles are easier to handle and install.
The manufacturing process is also more efficient: less clay, less soil, less particulate emissions during manufacturing – even less cardboard used in packaging.
This European focus on responsible resource management is not new: it’s been evident for the last 20 years at various European trade fairs. However, Cevisama 2010 reminded me how important it is that we all actively “rethink” what our standards of sustainability are based upon. When selecting ceramic tile products (or any product), we should continually be asking ourselves what innovations are underway that do not compromise the aesthetic of the product or the functional standards – but do result in a more eco-friendly surface.