2022’s big home design trends? Soft colours, natural light, lots of plants

One of the big design trends of 2022 will be the creation of unique work spaces that are functional and stimulating, says Clifton Leung, of Clifton Leung Design Workshop in Hong Kong.
PHOTO: Clifton Leung Design Workshop

That homes have needed to be abnormally multifunctional in the past year has better prepared us for what lies ahead, according to trend watchers.

Whether that means equipping a home office to be efficient as well as beautiful, comforting ourselves with colour and texture, or eschewing mass-produced homewares for sustainable alternatives, a more mindful approach to our living environment is the top interiors trend predicted for 2022.

First cab off the forecasters’ rank is Pantone’s colour of the year : Very Peri, a brand-new hue from the influential colour institute in periwinkle blue with a violet-red undertone.

Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone Color Institute’s executive director, says that as society emerges from an intense period of isolation, it is timely to embrace a new take on “the trusted and beloved blue colour family”.

Very Peri, which “displays a sprightly, joyous attitude and dynamic presence”, she says, also works well with other colours, its versatility making it a “cheering accent in small home appliances, pillows, bedlinens, accent carpets or lighting fixtures”.

Very Peri, a new hue, is Pantone’s colour of 2022. PHOTO: Pantone

Greeted by trend-watchers as a calming colour, it would appear to align with the soothing muted shades that Indigo Living’s John McLennan sees trending for Hong Kong homes.

“People want to be comfortable at home, so that means softer colours and textures that are less hard on the eye,” he says.

Indigo’s colour palette for the coming season includes shades of blue, green, ochre and red, but with a toned-down, relaxed feel, as if viewed through a filter.

The same applies to graphic patterns – sophisticated versions of the ’70s vibe returning to home accessories. McLennan also expects to see more embroidery and quilting on upscale textiles as value is placed on all things crafty.

Esra Kumbasar, design director of Accouter, part of the British design collective AGC, thinks biophilia – which suggests humans have an innate urge to connect with nature – will be an overarching theme.

She explains that with us having reoriented our perspectives as a result of living through a prolonged period of adjustment, an affiliation with nature has become fundamental in our way of life.

Vegetation will take centre stage in 2022, according to Accouter’s Esra Kumbasar. PHOTO: Taran Wilkhu

“We’ve become far more conscious of how the world’s natural resources are diminishing,” Kumbasar says. “Moving into 2022 we will become more entrenched in a period of nurturing our moral senses, which I believe will transpire through biophilia dominating in interior design .”

This will mean more plants and greenery within the home, along with natural light, textures and materials – not new concepts, but appearing on a larger scale than before. “Rather than a small nod to the design trend, 2022 will see vegetation take centre stage and influence the entire concept of a space,” she says.

Kumbasar also expects sustainably sourced materials such as rattan, cane and raffia to be used in new ways – such as grasscloth wallcoverings from Phillip Jeffries, and lamps from Casa Chic.

These predictions tie in with the home wellness trend that Rowena Gonzales, founder and creative director of Liquid Interiors, is seeing strongly in Hong Kong.

“People have a different relationship with their home now,” she says. “They’re not going on holiday, so that’s where they’re spending their money.”

Gonzales’ top design tip for the year is “big plants – and a lot of them”. “Greenery makes a space come alive, and feel more liveable,” she says. “It makes a big difference if you can change a space to lift your mood.”

Liquid Interiors’ Rowena Gonzales says people are increasingly understanding how lighting affects mood. PHOTO: Liquid Interiors

Circadian lighting is another must-have, in Gonzales’ opinion.

“People are really understanding lighting scenes and the way it affects mood – like how a dim light to wind down makes you feel sleepy,” she says.

This doesn’t mean smart-home automation – a short-lived trend Gonzales believes is on the way out – but could be as simple as having a “wake-up lamp” by the bedside. Designed to optimise sleep, these lamps gradually dim and brighten as programmed to mimic sunsets and sunrises.

With working from home at least part of the time now seemingly entrenched, Gonzales thinks we’ll be paying more attention to creating a professional ambience.

“Not everybody has a completely separate home office,” she says. For “sanity and productivity”, even installing a curtain that can be pulled closed for a Zoom call background can be enough.

“And movement-enhancing workstations are another trend,” Gonzales adds. “When you’re not walking to work any more, having a sit/stand desk at home can help reduce sedentary behaviour and burn calories while you work.”

Indigo Living’s colour palette for 2022 includes shades of green and ochre, as well as blue and red, but with a toned-down feel, as if viewed through a filter. PHOTO: Indigo Living

Clifton Leung Hin-che, of Clifton Leung Design Workshop in Hong Kong, agrees that a makeshift home office won’t cut the mustard in 2022 and that the new year is an opportunity to turn a flaw in your home’s design into something useful.

“Apartments in Hong Kong often come with layouts that are not the most conducive for furniture placement,” he explains. “If your apartment has a diamond layout or slanted corners, for example, consider using these difficult-to-utilise areas to create a unique work space that is not only functional, but also aesthetically stimulating.”

You don’t need a large space, but try to visually connect it to either the outdoors (via windows) or an adjoining part of the flat, the designer advises.

His clients are already stipulating electronic sit-and-stand desks for their home office, and Leung sees this trend continuing, along with their preparedness to splash out on a “proper” office chair – to wit a Herman Miller Aeron.

Bucking convention in a city that once boasted the most frequent restaurant-goers in the world (with 66 per cent of Hong Kong people eating out at least once a week and 22 per cent every day, according to a 2009 Nielsen poll), our kitchens are in for a pandemic-inspired makeover.

Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, founding director of architectural interior design studio Bean Buro, sees kitchens becoming more multifunctional.

In larger homes where space allows, he believes it’s still preferable to keep the preparation and cooking functions in an enclosed area (for safety, and to avoid smells and smoke permeating the rest of the house), with a separate island opening to the dining or lounge area serving as the family headquarters.

Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, of Bean Buro, sees kitchens becoming increasingly multifunctional. PHOTO: Bean Buro

This “sharing table”, as Kinugasa-Tsui calls it, is where parents can work, teens can study, and younger kids can paint or play and generally make a mess.

It will have easy-clean surfaces, ample storage for kitchen and/or home office supplies, overhead task lighting, and importantly, plenty of concealed power sockets.

Meanwhile, in the cooking and prep section, more counter space will be needed to sate our new-found culinary interests.

According to Kinugasa-Tsui, we’ve moved beyond making do with just a basic hob to now demand all manner of pressure cookers, air fryers, waffle makers, crepe machines, juicers and more as cooking, no longer seen as a chore, becomes an opportunity for family fun.

In smaller flats, solutions such as retractable tables will be employed more widely to make the space multifunctional.

Writable surfaces such as glass and laminates are a trend Kinugasa-Tsui sees coming out from behind the closed doors of kids’ bedrooms, to take pride of place in the kitchen.

“A few years ago, people were thinking about this but it went out of favour. Writing on walls in the main part of the home seemed a bit messy,” he explains. But, going against a long-held minimalist trend, kitchen walls will be increasingly interactive with pegs or magnets to display kids’ artwork, or to serve as a family noticeboard, Kinugasa-Tsui predicts.

“Now, kitchens are becoming humanistic once again. Instead of being a sleek and sterile sort of space, they’re more relaxed and homey,” he adds.

Nonetheless, in the hybrid home now used equally for working, relaxing and socialising, looks are still important. “This means designers have to be more creative than before, offering functionality with aesthetics,” says Stella Gittins, co-founder and designer at Accouter.

She believes consumers have more appetite for luxury interiors now, and are wanting to spend money on quality and ethically sourced pieces.

“The turn away from fast furniture means that, when people are buying pieces, they do so with the consideration of keeping them for the foreseeable future,” she says.

“In turn, this considered approach means designers need to design and produce with purpose – a trend emphasised during the pandemic, which will carry through to 2022.”

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.