'People's homes are in a constant state of evolution,' says furniture and lighting designer, Tom Dixon. 'They say that people now move 17 times in a lifetime, whereas, 40 years ago, you'd move twice. Families are fragmented - couples might divorce or they might transition or they have grandparents moving in. There is a constant shifting of the shape of the home.'
And, like the way we live, interior design is evolving, and our homes are about to get a monumental makeover. Our living spaces are now our offices, our offices are now where we eat lunch, our lunch is made in the same space as families are gathering together. Furniture design is changing. It's adapting to suit the way we live now - new shapes, new functions, new ideas.
'It has all accelerated since Covid,' Tom says. 'Homes have to work a lot harder than they did before the pandemic.'
With our new routines, our new work-life balance and the levels of comfort we desire, there are new ways we can decorate our homes to help us get there. Here, the experts share their ideas, thoughts and favorite designs that show how you can make this shift.
The new designs for working from home
One example of where our homes have had to adapt to shifting change is the adjustment to working from home. Our home offices are now the location for high-flying business meetings, where we need to be creative and productive, and have a professional yet personal Zoom background to boot.
'The evolution of working from home has been happening for about 20 years but it had been a slow transition,' says Tom. 'Wireless meant people started working in places like Shoreditch House - a media club for people to socialize and have meetings. Our Wingback chair was great for this because Shoreditch House had this policy of no phones and so the wings meant people could really disguise when they were on the phone.'
New for 2022 and only just introduced at Salone this year, Tom Dixon's Fat Work chair is an offshoot from the Fat collection - a comfy chair design available as a two and three-seater sofa, dining chair, counter and bar stool and chaise longue designed to hug the body and allow for multiple sitting positions.
'Fat Work is a reaction to the need for more domestic work seating. Fat was always a chair with great lumber support and a perch that allowed for unconventional sitting, however, to make it useful for the kind of occasional work-use that we now all engage in, we wanted to add a swivel, a five-prong pedestal base and height adjustment. As a result, Fat Work was born.'
'The Fat Work Chair shows that you don't need all the functionality and adjustments of the traditional office chair because we're not working in the same way,' says Tom.
'In Milan, people were looking at the Fat Work Chair and thinking it was a dining chair. This shows its flexibility. You can sit any way you like, you can sit on the armrest and you can swivel - which suits me and my restlessness.'
From renowned designers Patricia Urqioula and Andreau World, Õru is a collection of chairs and tables designed for the increased need for flexibility and comfort while at work. 'As we shift from a fully remote work schedule, office furniture will need to reproduce the comfort many felt when working from home,' says Jesus Llinares, CEO of Andreu World.
Inspired by the 70s and infused with Japanese themes, the Õru Chair collection consists of ergonomic chairs and armchairs, designed to draw a feeling of home but still provide a space with a sophisticated feel, working for both the office and at home.
'With the Õru Collection, we wanted to find a solution for how companies can invest in making the office feel like home. Although created with the thought of bringing the home to the office, the full product line can also be used in residential home too.
'The change in behavior and attitudes in the workplace have always - and will continue to - guide furniture design and facilitate a shift to increasingly modular products – just as it has affected the creation of the Õru collection,' says Jesus.
How living room furniture is going flexible
Outside of the office, a flexible work-life balance and increased time at home means our living rooms are also evolving spaces. What we crave from these spaces is comfort and flexibility so they can be our bedrooms, workspaces, dining areas and living areas all rolled into one.
'Spaces, moments - our very life - no longer have boundaries of time and space, we are wanting increasingly open solutions,' says Federica Biasi, designer for furniture brand, LEMA, who created this bed-like sofa that has weighted, moveable arms that can be easily swapped around to mix and match for one's needs.
'With this particular design, the sofa can be a daybed using a single module, it can be a very classic sofa with a fixed backrest, it can be a pouf, or an island ideal for conversations.'
The weighted armrests are a particularly cool piece of design. To create the piece, the designer studied a weighted solution to make the armrests heavy enough to not move once you lean on them, but light enough to move them easily to have different configurations.
The design's potential for movement and transition mirrors a wider change in how we live in our communal living spaces, says Federica. 'There is no longer a border between kitchen and living room, nor between living room and dining room, spaces are hybrid.'
Spaces for sanctuary
Another example of evolving furniture that adapts to our new lifestyle is from Ercol. 'People want to feel embraced and relaxed in their homes, which is very much reflected in the cocooning trend that we have catered for,' says Rachel Galbraith, creative director at Ercol.
Armchairs with deep seats for lounging are a classic choice, but opting for an upholstered footstool that can double up as a coffee table, place to put your laptop or extra seating is a great way to introduce even more texture and softness into your living room.
The comfortable and functional Noto recliner, pictured, is available in leather or fabric and has an integrated head and footrest.
'The last couple of years have focused a spotlight on how we live. The home has become a hub for work, rest and play. We have accommodated flexibility and evolved our rooms to hybrid living spaces. As we have transitioned into these new traits, our furniture for working has become part of our home life,' says Rachel.
'Our idea of work has morphed to a work-life balance and a softer natural space with pieces that spark joy allowing time for sanctuary. It's about lightening the home office space to allow time for reflection and mindfulness throughout the day.'
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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