We have been approached by CGTrader to participate in the Design Blogger Competition and write an article about Designing for the future, that will be a part of the huge discussion on the related topic.

It is hard to predict what is going to happen in the future, but based on our experience and history of design and its progress some basics of design can indeed be future-proofed.

There are three main topics that come to my mind when talking about design for the future, and first two are the ones our Clients are concerned about the most. First of all, will current design trends be still appropriate in 5-10 years time? Secondly, would materials and finishes that are chosen last long? And the last but not least, that actually not many Clients and designers are thinking about, is how sustainable are those products and materials that we choose and how will our choice affect our Planet in the future?

Trends are specific design ideas that are currently more popular among all other design options. It does not necessarily mean that you should follow them blankly and completely eliminate all other styles and options. Making it personal is the key to success.

Interiors are becoming a lot like fashion nowadays, meaning the choice we do will depend a lot on our personal preference, as well as on the price tag. If we have the budget to change designer shoes every season, same is for interiors, we will be changing, refurbishing and upgrading every 5 years or so. In order to avoid extra expenses, we would choose something less extravagant perhaps but something that will serve us well in the future.

Around 20 years ago we entered into a decade of simple contemporary design, which I will describe as white on white on white with the main motto being Less is More. It smoothly grew into the recently popular Scandinavian design, that took over Europe. Industrial was there too taking a more rebellion approach to the same concept. And now we seem to go back to art-deco and mid-century styles that are now being called as lavish modern. Simple minimalistic materials are getting more texture and colour and interiors are back to impress with a combination of different colours, finishes, materials and furniture pieces, everything with a smooth luxury touch.

So how to keep up with trends if you are not planning to upgrade your house every decade to catch up with current trends? The easiest is to be a bit boring perhaps and use timeless design materials and products, that have been there for years and I doubt will go anywhere, as it is nowhere for them to go really :) Taking those as a basic, you can always decorate using the latest and trendiest objects.

Examples of Timeless Design

White Kitchens
Why do you think all property developers are using white or neutral coloured kitchens in their projects? Right, because neutrals are sold better, they do not involve any emotions and they will suit most of us, when reds, blues and yellows might not go well with a lot of people on the psychological level. As no emotions are involved, there is also no argument and this option will always be adequate and acceptable in the design world. It is not even a trend, it a useful and practical solution.

Stone or its imitation
Stone, such as marble, has been used in architecture and interior design since Roman times. Natural stone is like diamonds in fashion, alternatives could be more fun sometimes, but it will always be there for those who can appreciate its beauty. As human beings, the kids of nature, we will always feel good surrounded by natural materials. Imagine yourself in the marble finished bathroom. How does it feel? Luxurious? That's right. Stone will always be there. Composite stone and stone imitation tiles is a good alternative for the budget refurbishments and for those who are a tiny bit scared of maintenance chores. But the look, the look will always be there, I believe.

Chrome/ Stainless steel
Oh, how I do not want to be boring, but the reality is all those wonderful sanitaryware finishes that we have on the market right now are changing pretty quickly. 2-3 years ago everything was about copper: copper pendants, copper taps, copper spoons, etc. Now, brass is huge, it is literally everything. Even our Scandinavian friends are adopting it in their simple designs. I adore brass and would like to use it pretty much everywhere, but I know that it is irrational and I am getting very much affected by the current trends.
In this case, chrome and stainless steel (especially in sanitaryware) will be your timeless options. At the same time, if you can afford to play around, then go for something not standard, at least in the kitchen! Kitchen has got only one tap, and if you get bored of it - get another one! :)

Longevity of Materials
When you invest into a house refurbishment you want to make sure that this will last loooong :) 
First of all, it is important to find a good team of builders and fix the core of your building and all the little things that are not visible, but super important. Those are structural, plumbing and electrical. Fix anything that might be potentially risky or dangerous, as you do not want to burn or flood your new house soon after upgrading it. 

In regards to decorative finishes I would recommend choosing:

Spray lacquered joinery over hand-painted. 
The cost of both are more or less the same, but hand painted finish will never have this last protective layer and will age very quickly, with marks and finger prints all over.

Porcelain tiles over cement or stone tiles.
Cement tiles are very fragile as they consist of sand and cement mostly and they crack if fitted over the underfloor heating. Stone tiles require much more maintenance. Marble is still fine, however, limestone being more porous, if not being resealed frequently, will soak in all the dirt and mould in the bathroom.

Sanitaryware with at least 10 years manufacturer guarantee to make sure you have this security. 

Hard to say in regards to the flooring, but I believe that solid flooring solutions are winning over carpets for sure. Carpets are a bit disastrous to maintain in a good shape and if you think how much dust and little invisible bacterias they collect...Wooden floors in all their different shapes and finishes are definitely becoming timeless and pretty good with the longevity.

I find that usually, architects are the ones who deal with a sustainable design more, specifying green building materials and renewable energy sources. However, we as interior designers can help the case as well. Here are few points I think designers should follow in order to design for a bright future.

Energy-efficient lighting
Architects can incorporate windows and skylights to maximise the use of daylight and minimise artificial light. When artificial lighting is needed, interior designers can specify LED lighting bulbs that save energy and last longer.

Specifing products that are produced in a socially responsible manner
We should always check and make sure that we use furniture and products from sources that promote safe manufacturing processes. When possible, use local sources and suppliers.

Reducing waste by using reclaimed or recycled materials
Rather than specifying all new furniture, which is super exciting of course, we first should consider an option of up cycling. Fortunately, antique and vintage furniture is quite popular now and items can be easily repurposed, refinished or otherwise refurbished to give them a new life. For the truly environmentally conscious, tiles, carpets, fabrics, even sinks and counters can be made from recycled materials.

Using non-toxic and non-polluting products 
Even though we do not specify all the building materials for the refurbishment, it is important to keep an eye on the building team to make sure that safe and chemical-free products are being used. Choosing from organic, hypoallergenic paints and woods that haven’t been treated with pesticides we will not only benefit the environment but the people who will be occupying the space.

Save water
When possible, consider using and reusing water in sink/wc combos and water saving toilets.

To summarise my thoughts about designing for the future I would say base your design scheme on timeless basics and top up with trendy decor, make sure to choose materials that last longer and try to think about sustainability a bit more.