Every year, we see new design trends and styles coming up.
Also, every year, we spot differences but also similarities on how architecture and design seem to go back to the favorites of times past.
Design is evolving but it is also timeless. Moving in a rather wobbly circuitous manner that never fails to go back to its roots. As we recognize the impact and effects of architecture and design in our lives and the environment, the hook on the past never lets go. We only extend the line to make way for modernity and lifestyles changes.
The last two years of ‘life during a pandemic’ have drastically changed, and even accelerated, some ideas and perceptions on architecture, design and spaces.
As such, we talked to a few experts around Asia to hear their outlook and gather insights about where architecture and design are headed. Here are the eight core design trends they see now, in 2022, and growing more in the coming years.
1. Clean, simple lines
Today, people realize that the home should truly be a simple space, not to over stimulate the mind and mood but rather to help it relax. But of course, not be boring. No longer are experts seeing the need to over-decorate, instead, they work more along the lines of simplicity.
With the pandemic blurring the lines of how we view and spend time at home and challenging our mental strengths, we, ultimately, find a stronger need for our homes to be a sanctuary.
With clean, simple lines, homes become a place for rest without sacrificing on the power to help in motivation and creativity. This design is especially important in WFH spaces and bedrooms where peace and calm are imperative.
“In the last two years, we started offering more products that offer clean and simple lines. We observed these as the underlying preference and trends that our customers automatically go for. These subtle touches still look fancy but not over stimulating which is perfect for the home – now a place to rest and work,” Denise Taojo of LivingDNA shared.
With this approach, trends point to more solid color designs. While lighter hues are preferred for most areas because it lifts the mood and creates a perception of space, some areas may also benefit with a deeper shade. WFH areas, living rooms, and dining rooms enjoy a muted or neutral tone and blending of different areas to give the mind more space to think and explore. While the bedroom or some cozy reading nooks can go a shade darker for deeper relaxation.
“Minimalism is still a popular trend. There is a high preference for simple interiors that also come with minimal clutter – for the mind and space,” mentioned Euginie Sim-Au, interior design and lighting expert with experience in Asia and Australia.
2. Breathable spaces
Along the same lines, ‘clean’ interiors are breathable spaces. We look for spaces that do not feel constricted so our mood and minds do not feel ‘trapped’ as well. When the world was on lockdown and many under quarantine, the desire to go outside and reconnect with nature was stronger than ever. As we rediscover the importance of green spaces, we simultaneously realize the need for airier homes.
When we aim for our homes to be comfortable sanctuaries no matter the size, we also wish to have it open our minds, thoughts and feelings. The most common and straightforward ways to achieve this is to open windows and doors to let the fresh air in, while improving ventilation and indoor air too.
“After quarantines and repetitive lockdowns, we all want a bit more ‘air’ inside to prevent our homes from becoming suffocating places. More and more houses want big open windows, as big as possible so they can enjoy an outdoor view,” shared Benjo Pacson of Benjo Pacson Interiors.
Similarly, open space layouts continue to prevail in residential homes in Asia. While there’s a bit of contention to this concept, it is still widely practiced and preferred. Especially now that minimalist interiors are favored for their clean aesthetics, the shared areas in a home stay open and breathable. Living areas flow to outdoor areas or into the dining space then to the kitchen, all with minimal to no partitions between them.
“It is still a commonly used concept here [in Asia], moreso for small houses. This layout makes the space more breathable, and seemingly more spacious. It also allows an easier flow from space to space in a home,” Architect (and fashion designer) Merri Chan mentioned.
Additionally, urban cities are becoming denser and tighter year-on-year. Buildings come up closer to each other, disrupting the flow of air and view from smaller, lower or narrowing structures. Consequently, experts end up having to play around homes with smaller livable areas; which subsequently, increases the need for breathable, open spaces that prevent the feeling of being ‘boxed in’.
“If you build a house on a small piece of land or area, you have to think about how to coexist with the surrounding environment. This attempts to increase the value of architecture through an open spatial structure rather than a closed one,” shared Architect Sooseok Kim, Principal Architect of SSK Architekten.
3. Rise in outdoor spaces
Driven by the realization that we need to reinvent our homes to be bridges that connect us with nature, there is a rising trend and requirement to have outdoor spaces. Complementing the previous point on breathable spaces, many also want a real outdoor space to feel the sun and welcome in fresh air.
This one is not only limited to residential properties. Many commercial spaces like resorts and restaurants also find a growing necessity for outdoor spaces to continuously attract guests and adhere to changing safety standards.
“As we see denser cities, smaller areas and less public spaces, we see a greater role for architects to integrate a more human-centered approach to design. One way to do that is through outdoor spaces that give its occupants a healthier, more positive lifestyle,” Architect Kim stated.
Photo source: Better Homes & Gardens
Outdoor spaces, no matter how small, give respite to tired minds and bodies that have been cooped up in closed quarters for most of the day.
Balconies, backyards, gardens, porches and decks are increasingly popular hang out spots for all ages. Additionally, this is an advantage for tiny homes who allocate more outdoor living spaces surrounding their small abode. While the pandemic may have deeply injected this need in people’s lives, experts do not see this going away any time in the future.
Photo source: Curbed
4. Inviting nature in
When we briefly mentioned the increasing preference for green spaces above, experts have seen this trend continuously welcomed into homes and commercial spaces.
Due to the happenings of late, many turn to plants and greenery hoping to transform their homes into lush sanctuaries – plant parents came up in several places. When it was challenging to travel and see nature, indoor plants were used to get closer to nature. Houseplants not only breathe new life and joy to a space but also contribute other health benefits.
Plants make any indoor space more pleasing, calming and relaxing. They have restorative effects that alleviate stress and amplify good mood. Similarly, spaces with some touches of green are livelier without being stimulating or overwhelming, fitting any design style and beautifies while keeping the calm at home.
“Plants. Yes. It’s become very common to decorate with indoor plants these days. A lot of homeowners and resorts wish to have as much greenery as they can in their spaces,” designer Benjo Pacson shared.
No matter which color palette or lines you are using, indoor plants can easily complement these designs. They enhance instead of overpower, making them perfect additions to give any space a fresh start or quick makeover.
And the best part is, they can be living greenery, in varying pot sizes, or dry foliage. If you run out of ideas on what to place atop a console or on an empty corner, a houseplant is a great choice.
5. Light aesthetics with drama
You probably realize that there’s a clear move towards the lighter and cleaner shades of interiors here. Despite this touch and color palette, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your spaces will lack that extra oomph and you’ll have a hard time to zhuzh it up.
From the previous point, the easiest way to add more personality to any room at home is through indoor plants. Large, leafy greenery will give your room a huge and beautiful eye-catching focal point.
Another way to add a bit more drama is through accent walls and additional textures, or a combination of both. With accent walls, you can get creative. One option is to use natural or textured elements on your wall – wood, bricks or uneven cement that immediately adds character to any space. You’ll be adding a touch of Japandi into your space with this design. Or another simpler method is to paint one wall using a muted shade of your favorite color.
“Using these textured and rough, natural finishes adds a lot more character to your space. Through this beautiful yet subtle touch, you get to elevate any area while maintaining that clean aesthetic,” added designer Sim-Au.
One more method to inject that extra drama into your space is through a sudden pop of color. This can easily be done with furniture — your couch, a side table, an accent chair, throw pillows, lighting, or a work of art hung on an empty wall. Without veering away from your design style and color palette, you’ll successfully give your space that added touch of beauty and personality.
“Just because you feel you’re moving towards the more neutral palette for your home design doesn’t mean that you can’t still have drama. Similarly to how I add personality to the dresses I create, I add character into a home through pops of colors and textures,” share Architect Merri Chan.
Through these additional touches, you make your space more unique and probably a better reflection of who you are.
6. Sustainable living
As experts see more down-to-earth designs and soft interiors, they mentioned a strong and evident move towards sustainable styles and mindful decor. Ultimately, the common denominator and most important direction that design is moving towards in Asia – albeit still in its infancy stage for many.
Sustainable living can refer to three overarching factors – coexisting with nature, the natural elements in a home’s design and the materials used to create its interior decor. The first one refers to relying on nature to address your needs, such as using fresh air for ventilation and reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint with less reliance on things like air conditioning.
In a similar vein, the second factor refers to airiness and openness through natural light, the perception of space and touches of greenery and natural shapes. Through this, we see the connection between humans and nature in any architectural space – referring to the biophilic design concept.
According to Architect Kim: “Sustainability is a very broad aspect in architecture and design that considers multiple factors. In the simplest of terms, you understand the DNA of the site through analyzing physical elements of the land, air, light and microclimate to get closer to its essence and build a truly sustainable structure.”
Across countries in Asia, Singapore is a strong contender in creating show-stopping biophilic architecture in their pursuit to be a ‘City in a Garden’. Other countries are continuing to grow their portfolio in this area – slowly but surely. Although not an easy feat, there are several advantages to biophilia that can enhance our living spaces and life indoors.
On the third factor, there’s the increasing recognition of sustainable, mindful decor. Knowledge of the harmful environmental impact of ‘fast products’ is slowly permeating the globe and by the by, people are starting to be more aware of their choice of decor.
Several up and coming brands claim to only provide natural, sustainably-sourced and produced products. Some are creating social enterprises – helping poor communities by employing them to create unique products that show a touch of their local culture. These brands are gaining more recognition for their importance and positive impact.
“With more small brands like us truly embracing sustainable practices, you witness this growing realization and knowledge in the community. These small movements are how we inch towards a common goal together and we’re definitely starting to see the shift in mindset,” said Denise of LivingDNA.
Photo source: Zen Architects
7. Reinventing places
Several factors contribute to the increase in remodeling and reinventing places – economic downturn, pandemic impact, dense cities and heritage conservation to name a few. No longer is there a need to do one ultra modern building after another; instead, across different cities in Asia, there is a higher want for heritage architecture conservation and making use of smaller spaces. As such, this demands a deeper level of creativity from architects and designers.
This process goes beyond simple facade replacement and transitions to repurposing materials and space in order to optimize the interiors. Using existing bones of a structure is very similar to the industrial design style – where you follow the ‘warehouse look’ with stripped-back architectural details such as exposed pipes, bare bricks, and upcycled materials.
“A trend on interiors is following the industrial style. This could be influenced by the much bigger trend on reinventing spaces and heritage conservation but this is becoming more widely seen around Asia and also Australia.” inputted designer Sim-Au.
Consequently, reinventing spaces gives you beautiful preserved architecture on its exteriors but takes you on a different journey inside. Around major cities like Singapore, Manila and Seoul, you will witness old buildings and heritage structures with refurbished or modernized interiors, these transformations apply to residential and commercial spaces.
“The role of architects and designers becomes more important for projects like this. Remodeling existing buildings correspond to more challenges and barriers to creativity; however, the end results of converging the new with the structure’s history and making it work is very satisfying.” shared Architect Kim.
8. Smart homes and spaces
Along similar lines of giving a modern spin to interiors, many are going one step further to make it a smart home or space. Similarly, these modern touches tangentially align with the first point of clean, simple lines which translates to simple modernity and minimalism.
Smart homes begin with controlled lighting and electricity use, there are also options for smart appliances and gadgets that help with managing the household. Apart from reducing energy consumption, as they claim, they add convenience and a degree of safety to your home.
“In urban cities, we see a greater implementation and preference for smart homes and smart gadgets. People believe it makes their lives at home easier, more relaxed and gives it that simplistic elegance that many look for.” voiced designer Sim-Au.
Photo source: Technology Designer