What does the future hold for interior design? Let’s take a look at some of the trends that will influence design solutions in 2021 and beyond

10 February 2021

Conditions for life on earth are changing these years rapidly with an escalating environmental crisis, pandemic diseases and the challenges that arise from living in a complex and highly digitized global society. Without attention to environmental, sustainability and wellbeing issues, we risk handing over a world to the coming generations where life is very challenging. This will have a huge impact on design in the built environment and the materials we use.

Planon in Nijmegen, Netherlands, with Rockfon Color-all, Mercury

Rockfon® Color-all™ at Planon in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

For 2021, design solutions that focus on sustainability will become imperative, and well-being will be high on the agenda. Let’s explore some of the trends that will take centre stage.

What will be different from the past years?   

For a few years now, everything from walls and ceilings to countertops needed to be bright white, acting as the canvas for statement pieces and design classics.

But this is about to change. People will start cocooning and focus on creating visual interest and a relaxing atmosphere using colours and natural materials inviting nature inside. The growing awareness of sustainability, holistic design and the need to reconnect with nature for well-being will be the main features of 2021.

At Rockfon, we are about to walk the talk.
In an interview with our Innovation Director, Christian Klinge, we figured out what will be trending in 2021 and what impact it has on Rockfon. He is the go-to person if you want to understand how these new trends will influence customer needs and their choice of design.

What will be the major trends dominating and influencing interior designs when we talk about well-being, sustainability and innovation?

I am convinced that nature-based design or biophilic design or anything that is linked to simple green living will be trending for not only 2021 but also the next coming years. This based on the desire to act on the big environmental challenges we experience and respect nature as the foundation for life. Also, issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the aspects of globalisation and over-population will steer us toward more simple and green living. A way of living that requires a better-balanced relationship with the natural world around us. Now’s the time to start taking responsibility also in the design industry.  

I would say that the days of futurism and materialism is past when we talk design. The whole concept of “use and waste” is not feasible any longer, and people are more informed about how their behaviour influences their surroundings. Even the expressions and methods applied in architecture, where specific computer-generated designs have been trending will change. I think that for the next coming years, people will want something warm, embracing and unique. Things that they can touch and feel,  something natural which is not posing a threat to our existence.

This aspect of taking responsibility, in every sense, will be a dominating factor and a vast topic, perhaps the biggest, when it comes to design, architecture, production, and choice of materials. 

To me, sustainability is not a trend, it is imperative

Christian Klinge

Innovation Director

Being as sustainable as possible arises from looking at aspects of circularity and the possible solutions available. The re-use, recycling and even upcycling of “waste to products” will be leading trends and we will see more solutions that have this at its core. It’s about not only focusing on one key element, but how small changes on various parameters can have a significant impact on being sustainable.

How do you see these trends affecting the end-user?

Despite aiming for simplicity, I expect a more holistic approach to design. Solutions will become more complex, and embracing complexity will be trending in the coming years. Designs will move away from the more linear single-use solutions and focus on solutions that embrace the full spectrum of people’s lives. Products and solution that supports wellbeing and helps people connect with nature.

I think we will see a movement towards nearness and a closer connection with the people close to you. Family and friends will become even more important. We will be looking into how to merge and combine spaces to benefit a shared life. We will be cocooning and protecting ourselves against the threat from the potentially catastrophic path we are on.

I also believe we will see a lot more of “platform thinking”.
It’s an aspect or way of thinking that we at Rockfon try to pursue in our design developments, where we aim to embrace and support complex functionality.  

When I refer to “platform thinking”, I believe that in past decades there has been a tendency to pursue the readymade solution with predefined function and aesthetics. We will be looking at products and services that enable the user to shape or even impact the solution according to their specific needs.
Designs will become more modular, flexible, and even capable of adapting to multiple accessories and technologies. Users will be able to reconfigure the designs to match their needs and facilitate various functionalities. The way of thinking that allows a design solution to be interpreted and connected to more functions will take precedence. So, modularity and personalisation will be something we will see in the coming years.

How do you think these aspects will affect acoustic ceilings?

If we talk about embracing aspects of ceilings, walls and interiors, I don’t think we will look at it as just a ceiling or the one component. I think of it as a carrier of multiple technologies and functionalities, perhaps investigating the digital dimension or integrating other features used in the interior environment. I think we should not only see ceilings as one thing but as a surface or canvas that can adapt to various available technologies and accessories that the user wants. This could be various elements integrated into or hanging down from it to provide a more versatile expression and functionality.

If it’s a wall system, it can be brackets or systems for attaching shelves or hanging plants to invite customization and bring nature directly into the design. However, it can also be other components that you use in daily life to adapt and create a new dimension for the system.

This constitutes a great challenge for the system designer today and requires a whole different mindset. You need to understand the diversity of aspects and dimensions which could be encountered when developing a new system or product – even ones you cannot imagine. The system designer has to look at the broader picture and reach out to understand the context, where the solution will be implemented.

It’s important to consider a user’s perspective and ask questions like: “what could go on here?” “what do they need to thrive” or “what could they possibly want to connect to our design to get the things working?”. Even opening up to products from other parties, letting them hack your system.

It will be a thing to consider that what you as a brand offer is a platform that can be used in any way the user wants.

Solutions that embrace the full spectrum of people’s lives.

Christian Klinge

Innovation Director

What is your opinion in regards to how a pandemic as COVID-19 has an impact on interior design?

Do you think there will be a greater emphasis on hygienic building materials connected to public spaces like restaurants, retail, and leisure?

I would say that there is a significant distinction between the professional segment that need to deal with how the changes affect our way of living and the end-users behaviour and life. In that sense, I mean how the changes post-pandemic will affect their behaviour and sense of protecting themselves.

I would say that this specific mindset of the customers is very closely linked to the nature-based trend. In this nature-based trend, the attention is on moving away from the solutions that cause nature and environment harm and damage. Now we see that the earth is fighting back, and as human beings, we want to avoid causing more harm, but people don’t know what to do about it. So, they will start cocooning and make room for social and work-related activities that can be done and made from home.

Do you think that the experiences we have faced during a pandemic will affect the design and reshaping of buildings in general?

Concerning the professional segment, I think the focus will highlight more on the design and how to create more safe and healthy solutions. Designs will deal with disinfection issues, safe distance measures, cleaning and other factors related to hygiene and health. On the other hand, I also see that the whole hygienic focus could gradually diminish if the situation goes back to normal. But the whole biophilic trend will stay and become a more influential factor in future design.

What are some interesting things that you feel confident our customers can look forward to in 2021, and how do they link to the trends that you mentioned before?

I hope that our customers will experience a whole new dimension of Rockfon. 

Regarding our new brand identity, we will ensure to “walk the talk” and deliver new solutions that are in line with our brand promises which are creating a world that sounds good to everyone - the supporting quality of life and well-being. For the first time, they will experience and see real design products developed using a more holistic approach and being more modular and platform-oriented. As something new, we will bring new materials into the portfolio, which will be one more step in achieving our goals.

In 2021, Rockfon will open up to a whole new dimension that will benefit our customers and support a more sustainable and nature-oriented way of living. We want to take a significant step into our new brand dimension. We will not only launch new products, but we will also launch whole new product categories. It will be a palette of new solutions that unfolds the design dimension of our products. We will take yet another step in innovation and create the possibility to explore the design dimension of our solutions. 

Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is on how to connect design with nature to improve health and well-being. Biophilia is the “love of nature” and as humans, we have a genetic connection to the natural world.

The biophilic design is relevant in all segments from healthcare, education, offices and homes.
The focus is to improve the spaces with a human focus considering air quality, acoustic comfort, natural lightening and the psychological and physiological effect from the aesthetic environment


Planon in Nijmegen, Netherlands, with Rockfon Color-all, Mercury