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2020 Color + Design Trend Updates in the Time of COVID-19: Co-Habitants

Design Trends

As we reported last month, recent events prompted us to pause and re-examine our 2020 Trends report. Following further research — we verified and revised our report, starting with the continued strength of our Playtime trends story. This month, we look at Co-Habitants, our next 2020 color + design trends story.


The Joshua Tree House. Photo Credit: BETHANY NAUERT PHOTOGRAPHY

Consumer Sentiments and Post COVID-19 Trends: Co-Habitants
Our trends story Co-Habitants highlights eco-sustainability, the power of activism and lingering effects of our instinctive need for protection. These sentiments still ring true.

  • Pushed to act in the face of danger, confronting our fears.This time of uncertainty is driving innovation and creativity. Confronting frightening issues push us out of our comfort zone and challenge us to consider what’s possible. Preparing for the unknown is also creating gateways to bold, new paths in design. We have time to dream and stretch the imagination, pushing our creative limits and looking to the global community for inspiration. The power of eco-intelligence leads to private action.


  • Eco-anxiety. With the global pandemic, many have realized they are not equipped to handle such sudden changes. Enter self-reliant innovations that can shelter us from the elements. This feeling of vulnerability translates to establish connections with authenticity. We are searching for adaptive designs that expand to provide safety and security. Designing for well-being is accelerating — from home and commercial design, to fashion.



Photo Credit: Getty Images

  • Adaptive routines. While adjusting to unfamiliar routines the “new normal” require, we find comfort in the practical — realizing that less is more. We understand the need to minimize and live with just the essentials, which need to fit a variety of conditions.


Sustainable, nomadic, multi-functional and safe. With these in mind, we turn our attention to our second 2020 story, Co-Habitants, which focuses on our desire for protection and survival, creating new ideas out of necessity. Appreciating craftsmanship, embracing eco-sustainable ideals and cherishing the fundamentals. We’ve seen these trends increase over time and are observing newer perceptions as we move forward.


Nomadic living trends continue and, with the new normal, a focus on the essentials. Living with less and traveling lighter allows us more mobility and freedom. Deconstructed design is essential, while utilitarianism is embraced with exaggerated, over-the-top functional features using materials that combine high engineering and low-grade synthetics.


Photo Credit: Getty Images


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Street style and luxury fashion collide to create an amalgamated aesthetic that straddles high and low culture. Luxury is redefined as Millennials yearn for something different — calling for design that’s relatable, accessible and authentic. Cherishing simplicity, rudimentary design, the fundamentals, elevated imperfections and a rediscovery of old traditions.



The Joshua Tree House. Photo Credit: BETHANY NAUERT PHOTOGRAPHY

Biophilic design becomes increasingly important as a form of sustainability, security and greater integration with the outdoors. Many have spent weeks inside; therefore, bringing nature into our homes and workspaces will expand, as will admiration of outdoor wonders. Rethinking the product lifestyle with newer innovations is key.


  • Utilizing Earth’s resources in design to promote natural restoration that won’t litter the environment. Considerations for better — not new — products are leading to design innovations.
  • Eliminate end-of-life approach to design. Rather, create spaces that preserve and can be dis-assembled and re-invented.


  • Sustainable architecture and self-sufficient communities get a boost with inspiration from indigenous cultures.

The power of eco-intelligence leads to private action. Technological innovations are pairing with natural resources, and self-reliance is growing. We are living in a “co” everything world — co-living, co-working,
co-sharing — so silence is a luxury. However, we receive the most energy from traveling and meeting others. Multi-local identities transcend boundaries of nations and states, drawing from multiple influences.

Future-facing products focus on preparedness — with solar, power banks and anti-microbial systems providing additional extra safety. Look to materials that adjust to multiple uses and provide strong performance — for example, first-responder fabrics that can be modified for everyday use.

  • Fabrics and materials such as reinforced mesh, digital shielding, radiation fabrics and bio-based fabrics will be at the forefront of this trend.
  • Surfaces will include color gradations, less porous surfaces and higher-visibility markings that are typically only used for extreme sports activities.


Color portrays sophisticated earthiness and global traditions. Color harmonies feature rays of light in radiant gradients of pink, yellow, peach and orange. Earth tones ground the highlights. A muted luminosity —
radiant yellow nuanced by overexposed tones, creams shaded by ochre tones, soft and intense tonal shades, and beiges and browns highlighted by cool reflections of blue.


  • Blue is a reflection of eco-systems and clean air, while softer hues represent haze and hope in a harsh climate. Clay colors symbolize craftsmanship, entrepreneurship and nature-based colors with soul. Rich browns and deeper hues reflect nature, a feeling of history and tangible surfaces. Greens are key to grass-root movements and future green ideals.
  • Color becomes varied with recycling, whereas nuances and mash-ups provide unpredictable hues, as well as a relaxed acceptance of color based on materials available. Artisan, handcrafted, heritage-influenced, well-traveled.

To revisit our 2020 color + design trends report, click here.

All images used with permission.