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2020 Color + Design Updates in the Time of COVID: Neu Traditions

Design Trends

Sophisticated. Quiet. Feminine. Classic design feels entirely “Neu,” enveloping us in soothing neutrals, warm peaches and oversized florals reminiscent of the Dutch masters’ paintings.


As we’ve recently reported, world 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. We then highlighted the enduring influences of Co-Habitants and Fresh & Free trend
stories. This month, we look to Neu Traditions, our next 2020 color + design trends story.

Consumer Sentiments and Post-COVID-19 Trends: Neu Traditions
Our trends story Neu Traditions focuses on the balance of activism and assertion with reflection of artisanal heritage and rituals. These sentiments still hold true, as there is a return to what’s familiar yet utilized through a new, post-COVID vision. This has been a period of insight when we are exploring our creativity as we are
changed from within.

  • Remixed rituals and a rediscovery of old traditions. We are adapting our routines to the new normal and returning to manual occupations, leaving the city for more space and job satisfaction. Top professions with increased interest include baking, carpentry, culinary arts, farming and nursing.


  • Radical interdependence — a shift from “me” to “we,” an embracing of cohesiveness. We seek to partner with others in new opportunities, whether creating online and hands-free community support or ensuring the safety and security of those less fortunate.


  • Touch crisis — with COVID wreaking havoc on social connectivity, there are tools in use and being created to cure estrangement and restore intimacy. The increased rate of pet adoptions proves the need to care for another.
  • Reset culture — with current events, we come to realize that not being the best is OK; simply being good enough is key to moving forward.
  • Familiar comforts — there is a feeling of decadence in the mundane routines of our daily lives. We slow down and seek enjoyment from sitting down to breakfast, taking a walk to breathe fresh air and really view nature, and pausing a moment at the end of each day to be grateful for the little things that bring us joy.


  • Harvest knowledge — the food industry has seen the largest impact during this crisis, and impacts will be felt long-term. As consumers, we need to know where the ingredients originate from in the food chain, while taking an active interest in supporting local farmers and ranchers. There is now a new luxury in meal-planning and sitting down to eat with loved ones.


  • Delicious comfort — along with knowledge in food, this time has brought forth an abundance of home-baked goods. Sourdough to banana bread, cookies to cakes — there is a stillness and comfort in using our hands to create.


  • Homebody economy — there is an acceleration of the business sector where work, exercise, entertainment and eating are all done from home. With people staying in, consumers are rethinking their purchasing behaviors, buying smaller quantities, in favor of increasingly turning to DIY or family heirlooms to design homes and decorate for the upcoming holiday season.


  • Cleaning out the clutter – as we are forced indoors, we redefine the workspaces in our homes. Bringing the outdoors in saves our sanity and creating new space to breathe and restructure our lives is paramount to moving to the next chapter.

Neu Traditions

Femininity is redefined and drawn from activism and resistance. A reassertion of feminine identity is reflected
in color with complex tones. Tradition, history and habit are turned around. In a combination of opposites, Neu
Traditions is inspired by a return to traditional design with softened edges, highlighting a modern, yet artisanal, quality to classic elements.





In a return to the golden age of design, we now look to surround ourselves with updated classics that channel bygone eras. There is a connection between designer and consumer, a return of craftsmanship quality
and appeal.




Balancing subtle contemporary and newer traditions, the design is soft and sensual, yet sculptural. Serene and sophisticated, this is the story of 2020 neutrals.

Color reflects a quiet softness echoing a refined palette of new, slightly tinted neutrals blended with deeper navy for a soft and tender palette. Contrasted softness — grayed pastel paired with deep red and bright white in a reflection of chiaroscuro basics. This autumnal palette infuses tawny hues with a punch of wine red — a homespun palette with practical charm.


Neutrals represent the kindness, sweetness and subtlety we want to see in the world. These neutrals
range from bleached tones, to pale golds and deeper browns, representing nature’s influence. Pink shifts to peach and varied gradients signifying the tactile environments that are key in a high-tech world.


color palette reflected in fashion. A model walks the runway during the Maison Rabih Kayrouz Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2019 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 01, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Laurent Viteur/WireImage)

Deep blues correspond to historic veins, craftsmanship, classics, and treasures old and new. Lighter blues epitomize the cleansing effects of water. Deeper rose-purple, the color of wine, symbolizes community survival and harvest. Refined, sophisticated, wispy soft.


color palette reflected in fashion. A model walks the runway during the Stephane Rolland Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2019 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 02, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Materials and Textures
Soft silhouettes and shapes define the materials and textures for Neu Traditions. There is a new equilibrium of subtle contemporary with overtones of tradition. The golden era of design takes us back to the 1950s and
’60s, when products were built to last and simplicity of design was the height of chic.

Glamorous and modern, shapes are abstract and sculptural. Proportion play is highlighted in Regency shapes
and Chesterfield silhouettes, while tailoring becomes relaxed, more approachable.



Pattern has a retro sensibility with minimal-blocked florals, retro geometrics, as well as modern damasks and botanical designs.

Materials are wispy soft and ultra-rich in earthy shades and vintage tones. Focus on white pine, smooth leathers, resin, luxe velvet, stained glass, ceramics, terra cotta, vegan merino wool and powder-coated steel, which essentially modernize metal with a touch of color. The renewed focus of the art of hand-blown glass and wood-working adds to the joy of creating new objects through heritage techniques.




Surfaces are tactile and showcase materials such as stones, pebbles and driftwood. Color-stained woods are displayed in white oak, mahogany, espresso woods, exotic burl and ebony. Also of note are lacquered
finishes, wavy movements in fabrics and metals, long fringe, channel tufting, intricate tile, soft curves and jagged edges.


Key details provide substance to Neu Traditions, with etched glass, milk glass, deep veining in marble, laser-etched wood carvings, gold metal and fringe — among many traditional design elements. Modernized applications of Dutch masters infuse oversized florals, still-lifes and portraits.