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June 18th, 2020

Design 4Retail

Insight article

Interpreting industry predictions for colour and materiality

Key colour and material trends 2021

Contents

1.0 FOREWORD
2.0 CORE TRENDS
– FACTORY
– REVERIE
– CLARITY
– ALICE
4.0 OUR PERSPECTIVE

1.0 Foreword

INTERPRETING INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS FOR COLOUR AND
MATERIALITY, AND WHAT THIS MEANS FOR RETAIL ENVIRONMENTS

During a visit to this year’s surface design show in London, our creative team attended a presentation by trend forecasting agency ColourHive, which bought to life for the show attendees their predictions for the colours and materials that will emerge as key trends in 2021.

These far-reaching detections of ‘ripples’ in the global visual landscape are of interest to our team as maintaining our cultural and aesthetic relevance is part of how we continue to provide the best creative service to our clients.

The ColourHive presentation was food for thought for our creative team who have expanded on the direction received at the show and are pleased to present our more retail architecture specific interpretation of how these key trends could emerge as we progress through 2020 and beyond.

In this presentation we will share a sampling of the visual directions our team have defined as ‘ones to watch’. We will review the marketplaces we work within throughout the year to see how our predictions are faring.

2.0 Trends

2.1 FACTORY PRACTICE AND PROCESS
2.2 REVERIE LOVE AND LYRICISM
2.3 CLARITY CLEAN AND CONSIDERED
2.4 ALICE IMMERSIVE AND SUBVERSIVE

2.1 Factory

PRESERVING AND CELEBRATING PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES
AND SKILLS. RE-ENGAGING WITH PROCESS AND PHYSICALITY
TO CREATE A SENSE OF PLACE.

Process

IDENTIFY AND ILLUSTRATE MANUFACTURING METHODS
PRESERVING AND CELEBRATING PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES
AND SKILLS. RE-ENGAGING WITH PROCESS AND PHYSICALITY
TO CREATE A SENSE OF PLACE.

Utility

BRING PRACTICAL DETAILS OF USE, AND THE FIXING AND JOINING
METHODS OF CREATION TO THE FORE

Community

CELEBRATE A SENSE OF PLACE THROUGH LOCAL MATERIALS AND
UNIQUE PRACTICES

Practicality

REMOVE EXTRANEOUS DETAIL AND ORNAMENTATION

Heritage

REVIVE FORGOTTEN TECHNIQUES AND MATERIALS

Urban

SHOWCASE TEXTURES OF THE CITY AND USE VISUAL
DEVICES DRAWN FROM AN URBAN LANDSCAPE

Imperfect

EMBRACE MAKES MARKS AND UNFINISHED SURFACES

Factory

MATERIAL CONCEPTS

_Imperfection Repetition

_Joinery detail

_Repetition

Imperfection

This trend facet emerges in environments as imperfect surfaces and makes
visible the marks of manufacture- particularly the physical imprint made by
the actions of a skilled maker, from rough plaster to hand made tiles.

The microtrend also recalls the bygone age of manufacture with heritage
and even retro feeling environments rich with mid-century colour and visual
devices.

Spaces can also refer to their surrounding environment with context specific
material choices and locality references.

Joinery detail

We could see this trend facet being applied through increased- yet more
considered- use of timber as a core material.

A greater number of brands will see the benefit of biophilic and timber-built
architecture, as well as increasing their use of this natural material in unusual
and unexpected ways as a key part of their sustainable activities.

To speak loud and clear about these actions, interior concepts will use more
visible timber, and draw attention to the craft of it’s construction with visible
joins, grain structure, and raw texture.

Repetition

Recalling the industrial processes of mass manufacture and the rhythms of
factory machinery with repeated forms.

This trend could be leveraged through application of textured materials with
clear repeated patterns such as corrugations, concertinas, and pleating.

Repetition of forms at an architectural scale will echo this key material trend
creating smooth visual flow through environments; and raw, natural surfaces
could be used to further evoke the heritage factory trend across these forms.

2.2 Reverie

REACTING AGAINST MORE POLARISED AND UNCERTAIN MODERN
TIMES, THIS TREND LOOKS TO THE NOSTALGIC ROMANCE OF A
BYGONE AGE TO BUILD AN ETHEREAL AND REASSURING STORY.

Romance

TRADITIONAL VALUES AND NOSTALGIA FOR A ROSE-TINTED PAST

Soft

WARM, COMFORTING TEXTURES THAT INVITE TOUCH

Reflective

SHINY, IRIDESCENT SURFACES, BRILLIANT WITH LIGHT

Tactile

RICHLY TEXTURED SURFACES OFFERING LAYERS OF DETAIL

Ethereal

DELICATE AND TRANSPARENT VISUAL APPEARANCE WITH LAYERING

Nostalgia

CLASSIC AESTHETIC, REFERENCING REMEMBERED PAST TIME PERIODS

Reverie

MATERIAL CONCEPTS

_Opalescent

_Clouds

_3D Floral

Opalescent

This trend is inspired by mother of pearl as remembered from the love-worn
softness of antique jewellery and grooming sets of a past age. The future of
the trend translates this very romantic material into a wealth of new and more
linear contemporary forms.

Hard surfaces shine with opalescent and iridescent coatings reflecting light in
a spectrum of soft shades, and the existing mainstream trend of holographic
materials continues strongly across surfaces and lighting but with a less
futuristic feel, and more soft application.

Clouds

Capturing the softness and weightlessness of clouds in material form.

A range of squishy, foamy, touchable, and effervescent textures and forms
are created. Both realistic evocations of cloud forms and more stylised
variations will be seen, introducing a whimsical and playful tone of voice
into public spaces to counteract the global trend of an uncertain future.

Inflated soft-touch objects and squeezable foam artefacts will be sued to
create a squishy, tactile playground for consumers.

3D floral

This rich, detailed, and feminine visual trend is expressed through a romantic
explosion of blooms.

Both hard and soft surfaces can receive the floral treatment, and the visual
effect could be seen in ceramic, fabric, plaster, beadwork, or contemporary
production techniques such as routed panels or 3D printing. The trend could
be leveraged for luxurious environments, creating a feeling of effusion, of
indulgence, and a masterly attention to detail.

2.3 Clarity

AS UNPOLLUTED AIR AND WATER BECOME INCREASINGLY
SCARCE, THIS STORY FINDS INSPIRATION IN MORE CREATIVE
APPROACHES TO ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

Purity

UNFETTERED BY EXTRANEOUS DETAIL OR FUNCTION AS UNPOLLUTED AIR AND WATER BECOME INCREASINGLY SCARCE, THIS STORY FINDS INSPIRATION IN MORE CREATIVE
APPROACHES TO ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

Integrity

SHOWCASING A DISTINCT PURPOSE, AND A RESPONSIBLE USE OF MATERIALS

Clean

SMOOTH FORMS WITH HIDDEN FIXING DETAILS

Transparent

CLEAR ACRYLIC, GLASS, RESIN, OR FABRICS

Sustainable

MINDFUL USE OF MATERIALS WITH THOUGHT AS TO CIRCULARITY

Elemental

NATURAL MATERIALS WITH THE CONNECTION TO THE EARTH AND ELEMENTS CELEBRATED

Bubbles

This trend could be bought to life through attempting to capture and preserve
pure air in translucent, iridescent forms. The aesthetic is amorphous, delicate,
and ethereal.

Physical forms are light and clean, with smooth surfaces and a sense of
delicacy. The soft colours of the trend blend and morph into one another
in translucent materials giving an mutable feeling to the forms created.

Translucent building materials create spaces that can move and flex as
needed.

Expandable

An alternate approach to sustainability. This trend describes design that
creates multifunctional and changeable products that reduce material
consumption by offering multiple purposes.

The adaptable forms are closely attuned to the human connection
required to use them.

Spaces and environments can be created with multiple functions and
adaptable architecture is delivered through expandable and changeable
physical structures.

Ripples

This microtrend will appear as capturing the flowing motions of liquid
into a solid form, maintaining elements of dynamic movement with
barely there materials.

When paired with matte materials such as silicone, or chalky ceramic the
ripple aesthetic has a distinctly contemporary feel, whereas more glossy
surfaces such as glass or lacquers are more realistically evocative of liquids.

2.4 Alice

Hyper real

AMPLIFIED COLOUR AND TEXTURES WELCOME TO THIS DARK FAIRYTALE WHERE THERE IS AN
ESCAPE FROM REALITY. DIVE INTO A DREAM WORLD OF INFINITE POSSIBILITIES UNITING PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL WORLDS.

Immersive

LEVERAGING VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITIES

Psychedelic

RECALLING THE HEYDAY OF THE 60S PSYCHEDELIC MOVEMENT

Synthetic

COMPUTER GENERATED GRAPHICS AND TEXTURES

Fairytale

SURREAL AND UNEXPECTED VISUAL DEVICES

Distorted

UNNATURAL PERSPECTIVES, UNUSUAL FORMS

Alice

MATERIAL CONCEPTS

_Weird nature

_Synthetic

_Murano

Weird nature

This trend could emerge as repetition and patterns that draw on the
forms of insect and fish scales with iridescence and translucency
recalling the beauty of nature.

Use of textiles with irregular weaving patterns encourage touch, whilst
surfaces with protrusions and tufts offer playful visual treats and create
spaces that feel ‘alive’ with fur or scales evoked as surface decoration.

The aesthetic should never feel like a direct simulation though, but be
inspired by nature and abstracted to create slightly surreal, yet playful
visual presentations.

Synthetic

What is real, and what is unreal? Our increasingly digital landscape is
redefining our notions of self and of reality. This trend creates distorted
versions of reality by using amplified colours across shifting surfaces.

Environments could use brilliant lighting in clashing colours and digital
art to create a sense of a hyper-real synthetic landscape. Distortion and
optical illusion could be used to produce an unnatural, even unnerving
sense of the surreal.

Murano

Swirling mixtures of translucent colours recall the psychedelic op-art of
the 60s and 70s.

The retro aesthetic is bought up to date in glass and ceramic finishes
applied over walls and floors so as to create a feeling of enveloping and
immersion.

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