Trend forecasts are an important way to tap  into the zeitgeist and the human needs which are shaping changes in design.  What will 2021 bring to design? The pandemic, environment and technology are all impacting what consumers and clients are looking for.

UK Trend Futurist Victoria Redshaw has delivered the Design Trends Forecast at Decor + Design & the Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) for the past six years. Here’s a snapshot of the four key themes she believes will be big this year…


As technology encroaches further on our lives each year, many of us are experiencing a need to connect to the earth and embrace the universal values of being human.

The Earthbound trend celebrates the fundamental qualities of our natures. Ancient cultures, rustic minimalism and mysticism are interweaved. Earth meets the night sky in a colour palette of neutrals, terracotta and metallics. Neutrals are sandy in tone; think muted stones such as Nomad (feature image at top of article) and warm desert dunes.

The Dulux 2021 Colour of the Year – Brave Ground – is a perfect reflection of the Earthbound trend.

Furniture shapes are characterised by pebble-like patterns, bone inlay and curved, sculptural forms that have chunky, primitive qualities. Textile patterns are inspired by the moon and celestial bodies. The traditional work of indigenous peoples – such as batik and Aboriginal art – also shines. These should always be incorporated respectfully and in collaborative projects.

Design can and should be a fundamental way to reconnect with ourselves. The Earthbound trend is a crucial way to reconnect the parts of ourselves which feel disjointed.


‘Belonging’ taps into our need for an identity, in a world in which old constructs are being challenged. It searches for an understanding of our cultural heritage, discards social mores that are no longer needed and embraces those which are more simpatico with modern thinking.

At the centre of this trend is cultural exchange rather than misappropriation. It celebrates ‘Universal Design’ which is equitable and accessible to everyone. It supports proud craftspeople and small studio artisans. The social impact of design is fundamental.

The colour palette is bold and positive, with Deep Magenta, Royal Blue and Pinks the heroes. Textiles are shaggy with overstitching and tubular weaves, adding a textural interest to furniture.

Force for Good

Concern for the environment is set to resurge in 2021, with a focus on design that is less damaging for the planet. To be a radical Force for Good, both designers and consumers need to start asking more of their products; that they fix problems, rather than cause them.

“Slow-sumption” is the order of the day. “Buy well, buy once,” as Vivienne Westwood famously said. Using recycled materials means a rawness and naturalness that was largely absent in 20th century design. As consumers become more comfortable with irregularities and imperfections, designers and environmentalists are pushing the boundaries of invention with ‘reversible design’ which minimises waste.

Plant-based products harness materials such as driftwood, seaweed, wood pulp and algae, while sea plastic products are removing waste from our oceans and repurposing it as beautiful items for the home.

Having these items nearby also serves as a daily reminder to be more conscious about consumption.

Traceability is a major consideration, i.e. where did the product come from? As will products which have a second life and can be reused. A perfect example are the candles from Decor + Design exhibitors Apsley & Company.

The star of the colour palette is Yellow Ochre. Yellow will be a major focus in 2021, with Pantone selecting it as one of their two 2021 Colours of the Year.


The fourth and final trend is a gentle response to our evolving relationship with technology and Big Government. Privacy and surveillance have become major issues, as have a lack of trust. There is an innate need for our homes to be emotionally defensive, to possess a softness which caresses and nurtures our frazzled spirits.

Expect overstuffed furniture and circular shapes in ’21, plus materials like copper which are known for their anti-bacterial properties. Plus a colour palette full of natural harmonies and wondrous metallics which inspire awe.

The 18th edition of the Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) will take place at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 15 – 18 July 2021. Register your interest here to join a stellar line-up of exhibitors. Subscribe now to receive updates on the world of design and a notification when visitor registration opens.