Consumers, Moonjian says, are rejecting the fast overturn of aesthetics, stark minimalism is declining, and there’s a growing emphasis on filling homes with purpose-filled items.
Interview with Kristen Moonjian, Director of Home + Lifestyle for FS
In this Design & Designer series installment, Kristen Moonjian, Director of Home + Lifestyle for FS (www.fashionsnoops.com), shares the latest FS forecast for design shifts likely to guide home furnishings purchase decisions in 2024.
“At FS,” she said, “we constantly track how big-bucket consumer preferences shift season after season. They don’t just go away; they continue to develop and unfold. The shifts that FS Vice President of Home Interiors and Lifestyle, Jaye Anna Mize, spoke to Furniture World’s readers about in 2023,” said Moonjian, “have evolved. There are five major home shifts we see in the marketplace right now.”
Muse Home Shift
“The first is Muse, an eclectic assemblage of old and new that has sparked a return to handicraft and artisan-driven decorating,” she explained.
“As more consumers ditch big-city living in search of slower-paced lifestyles, FS has observed that many slow-artistry techniques lost decades ago have been recovered. This has fueled the current patchwork and crochet craze. A new generation of crafters are searching for meaningful outlets to pour their creativity into with an emphasis on sustainability. Within this shift, recycling and repurposing materials and goods have reached new heights, creating authentic expressions of individuality. The Muse Home Shift views design through an agnostic lens, defying the typical constraints of styles and seasons.
“Nostalgia is certainly an anchor point for this shift. A fondness for refurbished and pre-loved goods has resulted in the appearance of an eclectic mix of design aesthetics and eras. Pieces provoke feelings of comfort and familiarity, drawing furniture buyers back to less turbulent times. I also want to note that current economic conditions have triggered a second-hand market proliferation, which will continue to grow rapidly.
“Furniture World readers can expect to see a range of artisan-driven furniture with many fun colors, patterns and textures. Nothing is off-limits in Muse. The pieces are like works of art, implementing freeform glazes, lacquered finishes and intricate inlays. With sustainability in mind, deadstock and offcut materials are utilized, resulting in new furniture applications—from crafty pelts to quilted upholstery. Many of these furniture pieces incorporate sculpted forms to create one-of-a-kind shapes. This new age of craft welcomes more experimentation.”
Art de Vivre Home Shift
“Our Art de Vivre Home Shift,” Moonjian continued. “It’s an evolution of the conversation about traditional design introduced by Jay Anna Mize last year. This resurgence of tradition within design is evolving and will not soon disappear. The classic values of Victorian aesthetics emerge in the Art de Vivre Home Shift, but in a way that appeals to modern consumers who are looking for pieces that feel historic and connected to a sense of cultural significance. There is a greater appreciation for heirloom pieces than we have seen in quite some time. Consumers are shifting away from cheap and disposable pieces and instead investing in items that hold lasting value.
“The Art de Vivre Home Shift adopts a collector’s mentality that cross-references eras, diverse periods and historical styles. But what’s so great about this collector’s aesthetic is that it becomes cohesive by being thoughtfully mismatched. This shift brings intention to every piece brought into homes, resulting in gallery-inspired styling.
“Art de Vivre Home Shift designs are infused with luxurious materials and rich colors. Mahogany wood tones are making a comeback! We’ve seen bleached oaks, washed stains, and lighter woods for a while, so the return of darker wood tones is certainly welcomed. Carved wood frames, velvet upholstery and intricate curves tie back into those Victorian influences I mentioned earlier and feel very ornate.”
Moonjian explained that the Art de Vivre Home Shift should not be confused with Muse. Both are tied to tradition and nostalgia, “however,” she pointed out, “they take on very different aesthetics. Muse is more playful, while Art de Vivre feels historic. That illustrates how large consumer sentiments can be interpreted in many ways.”
Due to the economic and environmental climate, they have become more mindful of their consumption behaviors. That is why the term ‘de-influencing’ has gained so much traction.”
Quietude Home Shift
“Next, we have Quietude, which builds on the extremely popular ‘quiet luxury’ trend that’s evolving quite a bit in 2024. Quietude infuses nature into new age minimalism and hints of emerging lush brutalism.
“The unrest and uncertainty of the past few years have brought this design conversation to the forefront, leading people to a softer way of living.
“Quietude defines luxury in an entirely new way. It’s no longer outlandish and overly embellished. Instead, it focuses on designs that nourish, enhance well-being and act as a breath of fresh air within homes. They become places of refuge and restoration.
“The market is also looking towards the healing benefits of materials with unique properties, such as quartz and agate, used in unconventional ways. FS sees a focus on earthen materials and textures. Recycled concrete, reclaimed timber and stone varieties are coming together to create calming, clean spaces. There are lots of sustainable, tech-advanced opportunities within the Quietude Home Shift. 3D printing technologies utilize recycled materials to create chairs, tables and more. Free-flowing organic-shaped forms offer a soft sensibility when it comes to furniture design. The inviting nature of curves is being embraced here as well.“
Maxima Home Shift
“Taking quite a turn away from Quietude, Maxima embraces all things glamorous for 2024. In the Quietude Design Shift consumers seek an escape from difficult realities, introspection and pared-back design. In Maxima, however, they are looking to elevate everyday life. The idea is to romanticize daily rituals and routines because why not if it makes them feel good? The Maxima Home Shift reflects taking the mundane moments of everyday life and making them more meaningful.
“Retro sensibilities are found throughout this aesthetic that takes inspiration from the alluring ‘70s, a story with a moody atmosphere that shines a spotlight on heightened sensorial spaces. Dimly lit interiors, layered textures, and freeform curves work together to delight the senses.
“Luxe material usage transforms furniture and decor into extravagant works of art. Objects with high-shine finishes or metallic applications take center stage. There has been a huge resurgence of chrome. High-pile velvets and heavyweight upholstery fabrics add richness and dimension. FS is seeing different fun appliques, such as fringe. Burlwood and architectural detailing are making grand returns to furniture design.
“A divine feminine energy will take over the design industry in 2024. An innate feminine spirit seems to be guiding us towards a softer design approach. An abundance of hyper-feminine design aesthetics are hitting the market, from the bow-craze to ruffled details. Sandy Liang’s newly debuted home collection (www.sandyliang.info/collections/home) embodies this perfectly.”
“In Quietude, consumers sought introspection and pared-back design. In Maxima, they are looking to elevate everyday life. The idea is to romanticize daily rituals and routines.”
Limitless Home Shift
“Limitless is the futuristic and otherworldly evolution of the Euphoric Home Shift Jaye discussed last year. Digital advancements have inspired a new wave of design with an anything-is-possible feel. Emerging technologies are changing how consumers shop for, engage with and utilize products.
“The Limitless Home Shift morphs and adapts, pushing forth a new era for flexible design. Experimental materials, finishes and details are evident, born from these new technologies.
Designs play with proportion, and we see lots of puffy, inflated shapes. Ultra-pigmented and vivid colors are being used to stimulate the senses. Performance textiles, air-purifying technologies and circadian integration create a sense of heightened preparation.”
“A goal of the Limitless Home Shift is to use digital technology advancements to serve well-being and be tech-integrated.”
Next, Moonjian touched on neuroaesthetics, a topic introduced in the July/August Furniture World (https://www.furninfo.com/furniture-world-articles/4063). “FS has been closely following the study of the neuroaesthetic lifestyle movement,” Moonjian noted. “It’s an area of study that explores the effects light, color, texture, shape, and sound have on our well-being. This is an increasingly important factor to consider when designing spaces or home furnishings. It’s also a field in which furniture brands and some retailers are showing interest. Wellness is being infused into every aspect of our lives and will continue to impact home environments.
“Although neurodiversity isn’t on the radar of most home furnishing retailers, there’s an interest in the design community about how attention to neuroaesthetics can foster inclusivity. Solutions are being developed to honor neurodiversity by creating adaptive solutions to improve user experiences in built environments for people with divergent needs.
“Highly sensorial design also falls into the category of neuroaesthetics. All five senses are considered to create all-encompassing spaces.”
About Kristen Moonjian
While doing fabric styling and trend forecasting at FIT, Moonjian was introduced to Fashion Snoops (now known as FS). “It felt like a perfect fit,” she recalled. After joining the company in 2016, she soon became a full-time strategist and worked her way up to Director of Home + Lifestyle.
“My family would tell you I was destined to be in the design industry,” she recalled. “Design was my outlet for creativity and personal expression from an early age. There were many instances where I was questioned about my very trend-forward style decisions, only to find that my classmates later hopped on board with those same trends.”
“FS has been closely following the study of the neuroaesthetic lifestyle movement. It’s an area of study that explores the effects light, color, texture, shape and sound have on our well-being.”
In addition to commenting on major design shifts, Moonjian provided the following guidance regarding likely consumer design and purchasing preferences in 2024.
Growing Categories: “Outdoor spaces, decor, tabletops and soft goods continue to evolve more rapidly than other home categories. It is easier for consumers to refresh their spaces by purchasing new bedding or tableware than to replace larger items, such as sofas or bedroom furniture. People are holding onto these larger pieces much longer than in previous cycles. This behavior relates to the reuse and repair conversation introduced in the Muse and Art de Vivre Home Shifts.”
Comfort-Seeking: “Responding to the turbulence of the last few years, consumers are engaging in more comfort-seeking decorating and hobbies, that will help the home improvement and garden sectors to continue to thrive. Comfort-seeking has also inspired an uptick in seasonal decorating. Recent studies have shown that decorating early for holidays makes people happier (Hello, nostalgia). Consumers are decorating earlier than ever before and leaving decorations in place longer. We can expect to see more of this behavior in coming years.
“I’ve had my radar on the kitchen in particular as an area home furnishings retailers might find ways to focus on. Kitchens are the center of most homes. It’s where people gather together and create memories. Consumers are investing more in this space, whether purchasing cookware, tableware or making architectural updates.”
Color Shifts for 2024: “Color affects mood and is one of the first things that draws customers to home furnishings products. Warm tones are replacing many of the cool tones we have seen for quite some time. Browns and cozy taupes now dominate the market. A range of tactile earth tones represents this movement towards earth-derived colors.
“Greens are shifting away from the sage variations into a more acidic territory. FS sees a lot of yellow-tinted shades coming into play for 2024. These are unexpected and a bit fantastical. Lacquered finishes and marled yarns are great ways to utilize this color.”
Declining Consumer Style Preferences: “Stark minimalism is declining, replaced with warm and inviting minimalism, as we discussed in Quietude. Aligning with the sentiments of minimalism, consumers are rejecting the fast overturn of aesthetics. Due to the economic and environmental climate, they have become more mindful of their consumption behaviors. That is why the term ‘de-influencing’ has gained so much traction. Social media often pressures consumers to buy, buy, buy, but this new mindset is changing that dynamic.”
Purpose-Filled Furnishings: “The home is becoming the center for well-being and human care. There is a growing emphasis on filling homes with purpose-filled items intended to make people feel good. Discrete forms of technology that are out of sight and out of mind are being integrated into our living spaces. Consumers are craving a disconnect from technology, yet they still utilize it to enhance their everyday lives. There is a fine balance to be found here. Lighting that supports our circadian cycles, air purifying technology, bio-based materials and connected convenience will cultivate spaces that serve wellbeing.”
Dopamine Decorating & Craft Seen at International Shows: “Dopamine decorating was one of the most prevalent themes at the international shows this season. It’s a highly sensorial design seen across all home categories that invites people to play and interact.
“The return to craft was also huge! Pieces made using time-honored techniques and processes are returning to the forefront. These items feel authentic and one-of-a-kind. Our team attended Design Week Mexico for the first time, and I loved how much that show celebrates regional craftsmanship. The cultural significance behind many of the showcased pieces was really powerful.”
Seen at High Point Market: “The Quietude and Art de Vivre Home Shifts were felt as we walked the October High Point Market. Universal, Baker and Global Views were just a few who perfectly executed the restraint that comes with the Quietude aesthetic. The pieces in their showrooms displayed neutral colorways, organic shapes and natural materials. Wesley Hall and Highland House’s brand aesthetic perfectly aligned with the Art de Vivre Home shift.
“Our partnership with the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame at High Point has been incredible! During the October show, we unveiled the second iteration of our trend gallery exhibit in the new AHFHF building. We also partner with the International Textile Alliance and the High Point Market Authority to bring a unified voice to High Point to align trend exhibits there four times a year. FS launches four themes a season at Interwoven. The Hall of Fame trend exhibit translates themes into products, showcasing how lifestyle shifts are being interpreted for the furniture industry. We believe this partnership will transform how industry professionals connect the dots between consumer insights and product design.”
Changing Retail: When asked to share her thoughts about how furniture retailers might adapt to changing retail conditions in 2024, Moonjian replied, “Consumer preferences change with the times, so brands and retailers need to adapt. Many retailers still need to integrate their online and in-person identities. For consumers who have returned to in-store shopping, brick-and-mortar retailers must create showroom spaces that compel this return. Remember that the atmosphere presented in stores is almost as important as the product itself. Utilize all the channels available to engage with shoppers. This must extend beyond just selling products. For example, brands and retailers are now expected to keep up with the never-ending influx of microtrends on social media, from tomato girl summer to rom-com core. When these aesthetics go viral, they can rise in popularity overnight and fall just as quickly. Retailers must use branding and merchandising to align their products in meaningful ways to keep up with modern consumers. That said, staying true to established brand identities is important for consumers who seek authenticity and transparency. They want to know what values a brand or retailer represents and are curious about the materials and manufacturing processes used to make their furniture.”
Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at email@example.com.