Sensory Design – Trends for 2022




Interior design trends are widely documented and predictions for 2022 started to appear long before the end of 2021. But this year feels different. There are less fads and gimmicks, and ‘fast fashion’ – and more of a focus on diversity, sustainability, and expression of our ourselves. Much like fashion, our homes are increasingly becoming spaces where people feel comfortable to express more about their personality.


Maybe this is a countermovement in interior design, fighting back against over stimulation from fast-fashion and the throwaway, mass-produced world we’ve found ourselves in. We’ve recognised the importance of a regular digital detox as we all try to switch off from push notifications and reduce our screen time. Maybe 2022 is now the time to focus on how our homes and offices are designed to fulfil our sensorial needs.


So how do we fall in love with our homes? Or create spaces that we feel comfortable in?


Over the past two years most of us have spent more time at home than anywhere else, so how do we engage with our environment, now that it is so much more than just a place for us to rest our heads at night?




At school we were taught about the five main senses – Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste & Touch. But many neurologists argue that there are more likely nine senses, including – Balance, Proprioception (body awareness), Temperature and Pain. However, we can go beyond this with some arguing that there are more likely 21, or even 53 senses! It is clear that our bodies absorb huge amounts of data from the world around us and process it throughout the day. So, what impact does this have on us... and how can we create healthy spaces around us that uplift our mood, increase our productivity, and calm our stresses?


Over 15% of the global population have some form of sensory disability or impairment; and between 30-40% of the global population are thought to be neurodiverse – so not everyone will process their environment in the same way. Homes, workspaces and public environments can be hugely enabling or dis-abling depending on how each individual engages with them.




BIOPHILLIC COLOUR SCHEMES


Blue and green hues and earthy tones have been dominating our home décor choices for a while now, and this trend looks set to continue. By creating a colour palette that reflects the natural world, we can create spaces that evoke calmness and serenity. Research shows that earthy, natural colour schemes and fractal patterns (organic shapes and forms found in nature) can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate, increase productivity and creativity and ultimately make us happier. Now, more than ever, we are turning to nature to heal us.


There are lots of ways to bring the outdoor into your home beyond a lick of green paint. The varying textures and tones of natural wood, stone or marble with prominent graining and veins, bamboos, jute and rattan are all increasingly popular in home décor schemes at the moment, and add an element of biophillia to any space.


Our attitude towards the colour blue has changed over the years. Rather than seeing it as cold and cool, we now see it as optimistic ­– evoking memories of laying on the grass on a sunny day, staring at the clear blue sky.


Terracotta will continue to rise in popularity throughout the year, as we look towards a more grounded and hopeful future. This will come through in other interior products too, such as natural stone tiles, oxidised metals (rust), stained timbers and clay; as well as softer materials like leather, suede, linens and rugs.





BLURRING THE BOUNDARY – INDOOR/OUTDOOR


As we all got used to spending more time outdoors over the recent years, we’ve started to blur the boundaries between indoor and out. This year will see that trend rise – with large trees moving indoors such as lemon, olive and fig trees appearing in large earthenware pots.

Don’t have a conservatory, or orangery, of your own? Creating a cosy corner with wicker furniture, jute rugs and some clever planting can transform even the smallest of spaces into your own jungle-inspired biophilic dream.


You can add to the sensorial experience by asking your smart device to play ‘rainforest sounds’ and adding essential oils to a diffuser.




SENSORIAL JOURNEY AROUND OUR HOMES


We’re spending much more attention to the sensory experience of our homes, maybe without even realising.


Scent has become a huge focus for many people in their homes – whether to focus their mind (fresh Sage in your home office will increase mental acuity), or to unwind and destress. We like to drop some orange blossom essential oil into a diffuser next the bed to help us to drift off at night. Pair that with asking Alexa to play ‘thunderstorm sounds’, and it guarantees sleep within minutes… although many would argue that any tech in the bedroom is a big no-no! Burning non-toxic soy candles (which are created without any synthetics) give off a cleaner flame and are free from the toxic chemicals found in paraffin candles. There are many places where you can purchase organic, sustainable candles… or why not have a go at making your own.


Our sensorial journey goes beyond scent, as we crave tactile surfaces – admiring in the beauty of natural fabrics, timbers, unglazed porcelain, encaustic cement tiles and the rise in the use of bamboo for furniture and lighting features. Texture and tactile inputs can also help with focus and soothing anxiety. Bring in touch-friendly elements, such as textural throw pillows, rugs and wall coverings.


Swings, hammocks and chairs with rocker bases all stimulate our vestibular systems. While the sense of movement is not usually considered in the category of senses, it is vital to our ability to organise and calm ourselves.




CURVY COMFORTS


Femininity is impacting the way we think about shapes in 2022, in the shape of circular shapes of seating, furniture and patterns. After the two years we’ve all had – softer, more subtle shapes are appearing more popular than harder linear forms and sharp edges. Subtle curves to sofas, patterns on fabrics, pots, furniture, rugs and even archways and light fittings will soften any room.


Having a meaningful connection with our homes, or work spaces, can help us to not only survive but thrive in this demanding and frenetic world. Creating grounded, natural and sensory-led spaces we can escape the demands of life and feel at peace with ourselves in a much more mindful way.



To see how we can help you to create a more mindful space for your home or place of work, get in touch with us today for a free consultation. We’ll bring the peppermint tea!