Gallery wall with many vintage frames

5 lasting tips for creating human-centered design

As we prepare to craft spaces for people in 2021, we couldn't begin the year without discussing the latest trends with our OFS interior designers, Nicole Giesler, Director of Interiors, and Chelsie Fritz, Interior Designer. Together, they crafted 5 insights for creating more human-centered spaces in 2021. Each of these tips not only reflects where the interior design industry might be going, but also highlights the heart of our brand, which will always lie with people. 

1. Conscious design

The design industry has come a long way in eliminating “fast-fashion” and creating spaces that were meant to last. This has and will continue to result in a consistent trend toward sustainability, supporting local, and purchasing design pieces that will stand the test of time. 

Take it as no surprise that quality, handmade, and even antique pieces are on the rise in our interior spaces. We feel a connection to the historic pieces we find in our neighborhood antique shop and appreciate the transparency of buying from local artisans whose products tell a deeper, more meaningful story.

As we move further into 2021, we think it’s wise to consider how our designs will impact the Earth as a whole and our individual communities, and how they endure through ever-changing design trends. Collectively, we want to continue to shift our focus on choosing pieces that bring lasting soul and joy to our interiors.

2. Focus on well-being

The push for human wellness within interiors will continue to burst into bloom in 2021. 

Designers will focus on holistic well-being by considering the impact of building materials on human health. These considerations might include infrastructure updates for cleaner air through HVAC upgrades, offering user accessibility to temperature controls, and designing intuitive sanitization methods. 

In the built environment, a focus on the humans that inhabit these spaces has led to healthier café spaces, furniture layouts that support frequent movement throughout the day, and colors and shapes that elicit a calm, soothing environment. Adding potted plants, living walls (like these from Grow Up), and close access to purified water throughout the day can provide the connection to nature we often crave. 

Light also plays an integral role in human comfort throughout the work day. Exposure to natural light, and having the ability to control the light levels in your workspace can empower employees to work their best. 

Looking for more on well-being standards? Explore the International WELL Building Institute or reach out to one of our WELL Specialists to discover more about creating spaces for wellness.

3. Nature-inspired everything

Nature soothes our soul, so it’s no surprise natural elements continue to provide inspiration in design. And we should add, we’re seeing it now more than ever before. We’re noticing earthy colors like terracotta, mustard, mink, and lichen are mixed with creamy neutrals creating a calm and welcoming presence. Materials include plaster, terrazzo, marble, granite, caning, and mohair, which all reflect nature’s innate textures. 

Shape is reflective of the natural world as well, and we’re seeing more nuances of this in architecture with organic, rounded forms and structures. Furniture and accessories, like wallpaper, art, and home decor, are recognizing this trend too. 

And just like last year, there are still so many iterations of biophilia in the workplace. Think watercolor floral wallpaper on an accent wall, a framed vintage landscape hanging above your desk, or propagating a stem you pulled off the living wall in your coffee mug.

4. Dynamic patterns and textures

The granny-chic or grand Millennial movement was already picking up momentum in 2020 but is really coming to life in 2021. We can all relate to feeling comforted by spaces that make us feel as if we belong in them. The environments we’re referring to are cozy and reminiscent of our grandparents' warm, richly layered homes. We’re seeing this reflected in textile patterns with small and large scale florals, stripes, plaids, and herringbone. Pleated and patterned upholstered lamp shades have made a comeback too, but we’re seeing them used in fun, unexpected ways, not just on a classic lamp base. Some of our favorite pieces to source that give us that cozy feeling of home include antique frames, vintage furniture, and real china.

Even adding small touches of these warm accents can go a long way in helping your home or office tell a more vibrant story. So, whether you’re covering the entire ceiling with floral wallpaper or just adding an antique vase to your bookshelf, enjoy the journey of making it uniquely yours. 

5. Homefulness crafted just for you

Vintage artwork on wood shelving

Designing spaces that make people feel at home has been a focus of interior design in the last few years and has always been central to our brand. Today, however, we have the chance to take this a step further.

True homefulness cannot be identified by trends, though candlesticks, soft fabrics, and rich colors certainly aren’t a bad place to start. Instead, consider homefulness as an opportunity to create a feeling of home for each individual. Home may mean something completely different to one than another, and accepting this individuality actually opens the door for us to create more daring, insightful spaces. 

To create homeful spaces, we need to design to support the multi-dimensional needs of humanity. This concept has been accelerated as our dining rooms became offices, kitchens became classrooms, and closets became private offices. Together, we can make spaces that are as multi-dimensional as we are, to make us feel at home by the way a space fits our needs and makes us feel comfortable. The sense of relief and sanctuary we feel at home can then translate to every place we inhabit. 

In 2021 and always, our goal is to provide people with meaningful spaces they didn’t know they needed through thoughtful design. And as any design professional knows, projects can sometimes feel daunting, even under ideal circumstances. So, we hope the insights we shared above help inspire you while assisting in bridging conversations around the elements that make people more productive, foster joy, and find a sense of belonging. 

Images and inspiration from: Elle Decor, Anthropologie, The Design Files, Blog Lovin', Red Girl Blog, Design Fest, Vogue Netherlands, Emily Henderson, House and Garden, Architectural Digest, Domino, Apartment Therapy, Behance, Rachel Antonoff, Leanne Ford, The Nordroom, Laurel Bern Interiors, Ciao Newport Beach, Decorated Life, Kaleen Cameron, Eye Swoon, Sarah Sherman Samuel, Katie Gong, My Paradissi, The Wall Street Journal, Iconic Life, Archello, Wild Food Cafe, and more. 

Nicole Giesler
Director of Interiors

Nicole's passion for interiors didn't just start when she began her adventure at OFS. She loved creating and dreaming with her mother even as a little girl, as well as with other fellow creatives she's met along life's journey (but has to admit the team at OFS has become one of her favorites to collaborate alongside). When she isn't laying out furniture plans or sifting through piles of textiles, you can often find her whipping up a meal and hanging out with her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lucy, and looking for her next plant to add to the already growing collection in her home.

Chelsie Fritz interior designer at OFS
Chelsie Fritz
Interior Designer

Chelsie has always been gifted with her hands, and an eye for design, craftsmanship, and nature. From her college career at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Indiana University Bloomington, to her early career, and now OFS, she is known for her willingness and eagerness to jump in, get her hands dirty, and bring beauty and joy wherever she goes. These traits carry from her professional to her personal life, where she can often be found creating art with her two children, as well.