Finding Solace: 2022 Home & Garden Trends

GIMA commissioned its Consumer & Design Trends agency, Scarlet Opus, to pinpoint the vital consumer trends that will shape home and garden retailing in the seasons to come. Home & Giftware Magazine attended the first of three online seminars which not only looked at the garden and outdoor products expected to prove popular in spring/summer 2022, but also delved deeper into the colours and design trends that are set to shape consumer demand and spend.

The entire world economy shrank by 3% in 2020, making it the worst recession since Great Depression. Compulsive consumerism is now being questioned and 2022 will become a time to make space in our lives, homes and gardens, living more modestly but also more fully. Having less needn’t be negative, it comes in the form of visual quietness and space creation via minimalism, rationally scaling back to only useful, beautiful and durable things.

The macro trend Solace showed the heightened value placed on gardens as a safe haven during lockdown which, as people settle into a new normal next year, will have to serve many functions and satisfy many desires. Whilst people may be forced to live more modestly – or indeed may choose to do so for environmental reasons – they will want to live more fully in terms of experience and many experiences will take place in their private outdoor spaces.

Macro factors driving the Solace trend include a powerful need to designate home as a sanctuary, newly valued as a place of calm which remains under our personal control, a place to live a simpler and smarter life. Quiet and solitude are being embraced as a permanent preference.

Many consumers will remain cautious and reconsider their lifestyles, moving away from cities and relocating to rural zones for contentment, wholeness and acceptance, letting the constant state of striving just cease. Interiors will have a certain tenderness, as will outdoor spaces. The format of our lives has changed along with the tempo. Adaptability is crucial for both ourselves and our home, its structure, and layout, with products which must accommodate limitless activities. Working from home is a key activity facilitated by technology. Consumers are embracing techy products with a hopeful mindset focused on the benefits they can bring to our lives.

The Solace style board is calm, serene, protected, controlled, characterised by pristine self-cleaning, nourishing products, items that are gesture and voice activated, anti-bacterial, things that reduce contact with shared surface, modular designs which adapt to changes in circumstances and requirements. Emotional bonds between people and products are bolstered. Tech products are more ‘companions’ than just computers in a subtle blend of futurism and naturalism.

There is a soft, neutral and peaceful palette with cool grey, crystal clear blue, oyster beige, limestone chalk (clean and pure), raw suede, sunbaked clay – evoking the cave dwellings of our primal past – capiz (translucent), opaline green, raw sodalite, smoked brown. pale gold and silver also have a place, especially in the lustre they brin to translucent surfaces.

Materials, texture and surface finish have a key role to play, with the emphasis placed on anti microbial, easy to clean, visibly clean, self-cleaning, calm and uplifting surfaces which have a satin shine and pearl like sheen, silvered surfaces, an interplay between smooth and craggy. Patterns are unassuming and minimal, shapes are adaptable.

Looking ahead to post-pandemic era, life will go on but not back to the old normal. By spring 2022 our mindsets and routines will have been reset and we’ll have permanently shifted our values from more to less, from constant newness to lasting quality, inner wellbeing over appearances, security above indulgence. There is a truly altered reality. The convenience of online shopping has accelerated the trend as new consumers have discovered the benefits. Engaging with customers online is crucial for brands which must make interactions with consumers right down to an individual level, guiding them through their journey from product discovery through to purchase and post purchase. Digital content must be emotionally engaging.

Consumers have decluttered, learned to live with less and have realised they don’t need as much stuff – products must have a purpose – their lifestyles have been ‘edited’. How will products help make life easier and more efficient, cleaner, flexible? Being adaptable is an essential human trait and products need to match.

Many consumers plan to holiday in their own garden and generally spend a lot more leisure time there. Increased time outdoors made people want to give their gardens a makeover with new furniture, plants, layout changes, offering big opportunities for garden retailers. Searches are for furniture that invites you to settle in and put your feet up, these are not the outdoor sofas of old, but they’re inviting and snug, like a beach hotel lounge in Ibiza. There is a social aspect to it, not formal outdoor dining, more like a holiday vibe, nibbles and drinks, relaxed time outdoors with friends and families. Cocooning, protecting, feeling safe via furniture that hugs you and also offers sense of privacy.

Working from home can also be achieved outdoors and now people have got there they want to stay. We see this style in hotel lobbies and now we want it at home. We don’t want to be cooped up inside on a warm sunny day, but take the computer into the garden. How can we make this happen? Keep devices charged and shaded, have anti-glare screens and sunshades for laptops. Garden centres can become a one stop shop for all our outdoor space needs, they have that potential.

People are seeking products and spaces that enable efficient outdoor working in good weather. Flexible furniture pieces which can adapt between indoor and outdoor use. Surface space generally is important for effective working. Storage is also important, what is required to make working outdoors practical, easy and pleasurable? Bring indoor elements outdoors. This level of comfort is what consumers are looking for. Lots more time is being spent at home outdoors with many more requirements for that space.

Screening is important, particularly for women, especially if all you have is a balcony – plants, screens, whatever – consumers are seeking them at garden centres. According to Etsy there was a 157% year on year increase in searches for garden screens and dividers in Jan – Mar 2021 compared to 2020. Zoning can visually separate areas, showing people how to do it and how to achieve it with furniture or architecture.

The hotel/holiday resort look at home is 100% what consumers are looking to achieve, they will create additional rooms outside to get this look, which is currently trending as so many people have built outdoor structures during lockdown, extended covered areas and built office spaces. People have also bought massively into hot tubs and will look at how to maximise their usage. Three weeks into the first UK lockdown searches on eBay for hot tubs soared by 1080% in April.

When it comes to marketing and promotion for brands and retailers, architecture and hardscape is a superb way of photographing products to make them more desirable – enabling consumers to see your product in the way they want to use it, to achieve the styling they aspire to.

We are seeing a more permanent commitment to eating outdoors, creating beautiful outdoor dining experiences at home, fuller rooms, not just a BBQ space but a full outdoor kitchen with storage and equipment. Pizza ovens with space for tools, moveable equipment, elegant but relaxed dining – Alan Titchmarsh incorporates this into his gardening programme, creating spaces that allow for moments of real connection and enjoyment.

Eating out may become more occasional and more of a treat for a lot of people as consumers seek to get use out of their outdoor dining zones. Tableware, cocktails and serving products are the starting point for the right look and the quality of outdoor tableware is really being upped, it is casual but really thought through. It’s all moved on a lot from the old picnicware, use whatever we’ve got attitude. Using products to create a theme, a colour theme especially, is a trend that’s got the potential to stick around long term.

Fire pits are also becoming much more stylish, sculptured, luxe, aspirational, sleek tabletop pieces, whilst incense and fragrance is trending up, such as the luxurious incense rocks from quintessentially English, COPAL incense.

There is also a big opportunity for lighting as long summer nights are spent in our own gardens. Rechargeable lighting allows flexibility so people can move things around, eg tabletop to tree branches. People are also looking to introduce tech, eg smart lights controlled via an app, or with motion sensors. Solar energy is booming and lighting is a must-have decorative accessory, enabling people to create a holiday style with fairy lights and lanterns. This is another great look for merchandise photography.

As we adapt outdoor entertaining to the fickle British weather, textiles are taking on a new significance, enabling us to make the most of summer, whatever the weather, with blankets, quilting, cushions, clothes, portable heated blankets and other things to keep us comfortable when the nights cool down.
An anticipated trend is the upscaling of garden decor, which is going to the next level with mood boosting design, primitive architectural, modernist feel that is a bit Mediterranean, ancient Grecian, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth inspired. Pots in particular have a Grecian feel and instead of being squat on the ground are elevated and oversized for impact, stylised and gorgeous.

The future will see the outdoor bar at home as a permanent feature of life, complemented by a home that continues to be a holiday resort, cinema or club. There may be a surge initially of going out and abroad, but we will revert back to our nests. It will be cheaper and will feel safer to be at home.

With plants there is a focus on wellbeing and low maintenance – think of valerian, lavender, agapanthus – hardy plants which survive in UK. Garden centres must not just think of core, committed gardeners but garden owners, people who want to relax not work but also want gardens to look as stylish as the house, with colours that link up. Which plants will enhance overall look whilst also being reliable and easy to grow? Ornamental grasses bring texture, movement, softness, whilst palms, cypress and yukka trees have the desired exotic appearance.

Colours evoke the cool blues of the sea contrasting with sun kissed warm earth backed by soft greys.

Indoor planters are becoming minimalist, almost Japanese, filled with purifying plants such as the snake plant or aloe vera produces oxygen, or medicinal plants like mint, tea or lemonbalm. There has been a 205% year-on-year growth in searches on Etsy for indoor garden or herb planters. People also need to understand how to care for plants and maintain the aesthetic.

Gifting has become about reducing stress, connecting with emotions and promoting wellbeing: Diffusers and other forms of home fragrance are still expanding and remain a very strong sector, especially now air purifying, plug in diffusers, candles with reusable containers, aromatic kits, crafting workshop (experiential gifts) self-pampering and grow your own.

The colour Raw Suede can be used as a keystone for products – sunbaked dryness, subtle, Mediterranean vibes that will subtly transition to autumn and looks very good on ceramics or textiles, especially with gold or bronze. Sunbaked clay has a similar appeal. The atmosphere to evoke through colour is relaxed, effortlessly elegant and gender neutral – serene greens are airy, light and work very well with terracotta for a very aspirational look. Moments can be recreated through instagrammable photography and packaging.

Tip: Look out for TADALAKT – an Arabic word for surface texture which encapsulates the mood.

Images are either from the Scarlet Opus trend seminar or Pelargoniums for Europe image library.

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