Image courtesy of Precht

Trends Prediction: How Survival is Shaping the Home and Store of the Future

Despite underlying concerns about safety, research by Morning Consult suggests that support for reopening is stabilizing.

People are at once prioritizing distance and barriers, while also craving connection and community. On the surface these impulses may seem paradoxical. But consider the titles (and success) of the live music event Together At Home, and Priya Parker’s podcast series Together Apart.

The pandemic has naturally prompted many people to interrogate their actions for deeper meaning, seek new ways to connect with others, alongside a renewed desire to place their individual efforts within greater movements and actions.

As a result, new and multi-layered definitions of sufficiency, survival, community, resilience and reliance are emerging.

In this article, we will explore several ways in which this is unfolding. In each section (looking in turn at the architecture, food and retail sectors) we also predict how these impulses will shape priorities and drive long-term investment in these sectors.

Architecture trend: World of Interiors

Architects are tasked with making spaces safer and cleaner, while making the most of local resources and nearby support networks, particularly in cities. For this, designers are looking globally for solutions. This is already visible in the following ways:

Flexible architecture
As we reported previously, flexibility is a major trend in commercial spaces, and it is now influencing home design. Designer Michelle Ogundehin observes western countries beginning to embrace the economy and flexibility of Japanese architecture, with minimalist aesthetics and multi-functional spaces. Design studio Precht recently unveiled an “ecological hotel” in the Ecuadorian jungle. Made from bamboo, the structure can be added to and extended in any direction.

Domestic decontamination
Ogundehin also predicts wider adoption of another Japanese concept called the Genkan, a foyer in which people can easily shed shoes, outerwear and outside contaminants, before entering the main house. The same principle underlies the SheltAir bio-domes, cost-effective, easily-constructed private pods for people to isolate in.

Space sharing
Eran Chen recently noted that “a well-designed community can be the solution” to some of the unique issues coronavirus poses to urban dwellers. Chen advocates for better use of connected spaces and resources such as balconies, courtyards and shared clotheslines, as often seen in Europe. Architect Alison Brooks also observes the pandemic prompting “a value shift” in her sector, whereby greater currency will be placed in outdoor spaces, and amenities such as balconies, terraces and French doors.

Park lives
During the acute stages of the pandemic, town and city parks became a lifeline for many people, as venues for escapism and exercise. We predict more investment and protections for parks in future. To quote CityLab, ”the public [should] reconsider the importance of public space, and even see parks as part of a broader plan for economic and social recovery.”

Several networks and very recent developments advocate for a better future, beyond the current moment (which Ogundehin terms the “inter-pandemic phase — learning to live with a virus in our midst”). Encouragingly, we already see shifts in the industry towards idea-sharing and equality:

IKEA is actively working on small-scale tech projects to make the future home more sustainable, private and helpful. Its new platform Everyday Experiments demonstrates the retailer’s recent partnerships with various design studios, via its innovation hub SPACE10.

Founded in 2018 to address the lack of diversity in the design industry. the Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG) recently unveiled its Virtual Concept House. This ongoing project virtually reimagines the future, post-pandemic home, specifically for black families and diasporic communities.

In June 2020, plans were unveiled to turn Hitler’s birthplace into a minimally-designed police headquarters. Critics panned the plans as “tone-deaf … given the current moment in history”. One commentator added that “a public library would have been a more appropriate” use of the site, reflecting the growing global conversation around social control vs social investment, which we believe will have genuine, lasting impacts in town planning.

Image courtesy of Precht

Lifestyle trend: Homesteading

In the acute stages of the pandemic, people went into survival mode. Self-reliance became a dominant motivator in the way people live, consume and eat, as witnessed in the reactive increases in home cooking, pantry stocking and the wider FMCG sector.

With many companies embracing and adopting remote working permanently, the language used has connotations of self-sufficiency and frontierism. There have even been calls for Big Tech’s base to be renamed “Silicon Prairie”.

Some of the behaviours people have picked up in isolation are having longer-term impacts, including the first aid kit market which is expected to grow sizably. We also see this in other areas, such as:

Growth of gardens
As food security and sovereignty becomes a genuine concern, on international and local levels, there has been a notable rise in the number of home food farms. Modern Farmer has highlighted the work of Dream of Wild Health (with Native American communities) and Soul Fire Farm (with marginalised communities and people of colour) on education and homesteading. Similarly, Outside recently featured the focused work of Sow True Seed.

House bound = House proud
People have been cocooning, with additional time to spend on home improvements and decorating. As we move into the next phase, people are still continuing to improve and invest in their homes, as spaces they are spending increased time in. This is seen in a variety of ways, from elevating backyard parties, to inside-outside decorating and improvised, store-cupboard cocktails.

Restaurants reversed
Restaurants and cafés are gradually reopening across the world. In the interests of survival, owners are openly pivoting their operational models, breaking down distinctions between sit-in restaurants, outdoor food vendors and takeaways. Read more about this major trend here.

With more time indoors and social time problematized for the time being, several organisations and individuals are stepping up, to better people connect people’s individual efforts:

Modern Farmer announced their Million Gardens Movement, allowing first-time and seasoned gardeners alike to share pictures of their home gardens on social media connected by a hashtag. The initiative also connects people with food gardens in their local area.

In the US, AmpleHarvest connects farmers with food pantries in their local area, in order to increase support for families reliant on food banks while also decreasing food waste. In a similar vein, food-sharing service Olio recently hit a milestone 2 million users.

Food52, the influential kitchen and lifestyle site, works across channels to connect likeminded individuals who “see food as the centre of a well-lived life”. It does this by giving users a comprehensive and ever-expanding free resource for sharing recipes, cooking tips and inter-pandemic coping mechanisms.

Fiona Apple has committed to donate all royalties accrued in the next year by two new songs. The beneficiaries are Harlem’s Children Zone and Seeding Sovereignty. It demonstrates thoughtful allyship with marginalised people and the black community, which we hope will inspire other acts of kindness.

The founder of architectural studio Precht says that his projects are all themed around “self-sufficiency”. His design process often unites “agriculture and architecture” which he notes, as two of the most polluting industries in the world, share problems — and common solutions. Precht has previously designed modular towerblocks that incorporate shared spaces for growing food, allowing residents the rare opportunity “to eat or share with their local community”.

Image courtesy of Precht

Retail trend: Inter-Personal Shopping

There have been many recent innovations in physical retail that have helped to accelerate reopening. The underlying aim of many of these measures is to ease pressure on e-commerce, keep in-store traffic to safe levels and minimise customer interaction.

Interestingly, many of the techniques combine digital and physical methods and, by doing so, bring together the benefits of individualisation and highly personal customer service. We observe this in the following ways:

Bricks-and-clicks
During lockdown, click-and-collect and kerbside delivery have been widely adopted. Large and small retailers will continue to offer them long-term, now aided by apps such as Postmates.

Same-day and hyper-local deliveries
Industry leaders in the US such as Target and Walmart are increasing their same-day delivery offer. Other peer-to-peer platforms such as Shopify are investing in faster delivery methods for local partners.

Shopping slots
In the UK, Selfridges are offering private after-hours shopping experiences, as are several shops on London’s main shopping district. Online scheduling platform Appointedd has seen a 250% increase in demand for their services. Some restaurant booking apps are pivoting to let customers book timeslots for shop visits in advance.

To counteract the reliance on tech, thoughtful in-store customer service has never been more important, with retailers who innovate in this space reaping the rewards. For instance:

Harrods has announced plans to offer a personal shopping service called “remote clienteling”. Since May, employees at the luxury London department store have been fulfilling phone and email orders for its most “prized” customers.

Best Buy has elevated kerbside pickup for all customers with its by-appointment concierge service, letting shoppers phone in advance and pick up orders at an arranged time. It maintained 81% of sales in Q1 as a result. Sam’s Club have been praised for their similar service for its most vulnerable and immunocompromised customers, “Shop from your Car”.

Boots is offering video beauty consultations both in-store and online, in addition to its new online medical consultation service. The retailer is also investing in geo-targeted ads, letting people know when a nearby store is less busy, to safely manage footfall.

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Irish writer in London. Currently run events at Sotheby's, formerly V&A. Founder of Predictedit, a newsletter bringing together trends, research and ideas.

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Karl Finn

Karl Finn

Irish writer in London. Currently run events at Sotheby's, formerly V&A. Founder of Predictedit, a newsletter bringing together trends, research and ideas.

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