The Trend Curve has always held that understanding a trend’s provenance is vital to establishing a comfort level with newness. Sometimes home furnishings trends have their roots in art, for example, a major exhibition. In other cases, media plays a role. Think Yellowstone and the current revival of all things Southwest. And the runway is a constant (and often overused) source of inspiration.
But more broadly, lifestyle influences are the largest catalysts for trends.
During the pandemic, consumers’ worlds contracted drastically. Manufacturers and retailers were daunted by more than ensuing shifts in shopping behaviors. They were also contending with supply chain hiccoughs, delivery snarls and the threat of economic slowdown. According to the Wall Street Journal article, “That Style, Again? How Shopping Got So Boring,” most companies hit the pause button on new-product development. Today, the resulting boredom is motivating a key trend in colors, shapes, patterns and even flavors.
“We Got Bored”
At times, this utterance leads into a confession of a heinous act. But in some circles, particularly in areas of home décor and meal prep, boredom has led to some brave, bold outcomes.
In the world of décor, bold color is popping up everywhere. From Apelt’s use of oranges and purples for table linens to the intense yellow Papavero ceiling/wall lamp from Martinelli Luce, and from & Klevering’s serving bowl wrapped in primary colors to Broste Copenhagen’s grass green vase, notice-me hues are no longer rare.
And they’re not just being applied to accessories that play accent roles. These colors are showing up in items with some of the longest lifespans in the home. Case in point:
- Pinto’s new Constellations collection features a bed with headboard and side rails covered in cobalt colored wool fabric.
- The Develius modular sofa from & Tradition comes in exciting red.
- In updated kitchens, hues like Wellborn’s Sapphire cabinetry color are gaining traction.
- Freestanding bathtubs from the Victoria + Albert x Conde Nast Traveler Wanderlust collection from House of Rohl come in saturated green, blue and yellow.
Beyond Bold Color
New shapes are nothing short of rut-defying. In an evolution of contemporary style, forms are becoming thicker and rounder. Some pieces convey an impression of exaggerated proportions. Unlike the slender, leggy look of mid-mod, seats are chunky, extending to the floor, or nearly so. Accent tables appear stout with their solid bases. Accessories are wider and deeper. Surface designs favor lively rhythms and a larger scale that fits with stocky silhouettes. These characteristics can apply to products, whether the palette is bright, deep, or even neutralized, though intense hues are more directional.
The market hinted at bold forms for décor just as the pandemic was taking hold. At that time, neutrals smoothed the way for the emergence of these unfamiliar forms. With the pandemic now in the past, intense color and energetic patterns are joining in. In fact, they are being allowed to nudge those neutrals aside more and more often. The result is a style that is anything but boring. It is innovative, exhilarating and uplifting.
The Food World Joins In
This embrace of daring is similarly apparent in the world of food. It is manifesting in striking hues and bold packaging, as well as brave flavors.
The power of color is being acknowledged in sweets and snacks categories like never before. A recent article in Confectionary News revealed that, “Colour is more than a trendy ingredient in confectionery. Manufacturers know that using colours that create feelings of optimism and excitement can give consumers a positive eating experience…”
Color is getting a workout when it comes to packaging, too. Dull cardboard egg cartons are getting a splash of green, yellow or aqua at Gwendolyn’s Organic Eggs. Zesty Z’s honey sea salt popcorn comes in purple and school-bus yellow packages. Cans of Superfrau’s Upcycled Fizzy Whey Drink are hot pink. Packing for Too Good Gourmet’s mini bite-size Birthday Cake cookies team a similar bright pink with red.
Of course, color has always been key to food and beverage packaging. Now, however, color is not only more noticeable, it is also pervasive. One factor is a seemingly endless introduction of flavors, as food marketers diligently churn out smokey, savory, exotic, hot and spicy (stilI) varieties to satiate us. Finding fresh ways to wake up tastebuds has never been as important as it is today.
Restaurants are also forging a path out of taste bud malaise. Take for instance Smoke’N Ash BBQ, a Tex-Ethiopian smokehouse that earned a spot on The New York Times’ 50 Best Restaurants in America in September 2022. Fasicka Hicks, one-half of the married couple that owns the eatery, told a local journalist, “When we started it was just Texas BBQ. I’m from Ethiopia, and I decided to do something with the Ethiopian part of it because (in 2020) I was really bored with just smoking meat.”
Bold pairings of food flavors offer just one example of how people are trying combat that gnawing feeling of “I’m finding these choices I’ve made are no longer engaging me.” How many people? According to Unilever, 66% of consumers say they like trying new flavors, and 36% say they are more interested in trying new flavors now than they were just one year ago. The company has responded by publishing a Bold Flavors Trend Guide, with bold and global flavors, made for food-service operators looking to refresh their menus.
On the cooking side we know that brave, bold flavor is very important to younger generations. So is completely new flavor. Marshall Cohen, chief industry adviser at Circana, told the WSJ, “Something as simple as a new flavor, color or style can create demand.” Many of these adventuresome consumers are Frankensteining ingredients together on their own. Food companies seem to be following their lead—and that’s a good thing. Think ghost-pepper cream cheese, called A Little Taste of Hell, from Philadelphia Cream Cheese or Seoul Kimchi Mayo from Lucky Foods. One of McCormick’s newest flavor offerings is Vietnamese X Cajun Style Seasoning. No flavor or flavor combo is too weird.
Give Me More Different
After three years of pandemic-induced limitations, shoppers can no longer hold back their craving for newness and excitement. Whether the topic is food or furnishings, consumers want anything that can lift us from the same-old. The result is a new kind of shorthand for modernity. That makes right now the perfect time for innovation and experimentation.