365 Objects Of Design

Five Future Proof Trends

13th July 2017
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Sounds like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it. How can a trend, which is surely allied to a fashion, be future-proof? Surely the point is that it will change. Usually quite fast. After all, isn’t trend just another word for fashion? Or is it? We often talk about a fad that leads to an underlying or long-term trend and that may, in time turn into a classic. But this month’s guest blogger, journalist Rohini Wahi, works as a trend forecaster for the design industry. She knows if it’s just a flash in the pan or a safe place to invest. And with that in mind I’m delighted to welcome her to these pages to show you five future proof trends so that you can decide if it’s worth investing in the high end or sticking to the (cheaper) high street. Over to you Rohini:


It’s quite a statement yes. Five trends that will last for ever. I’ve worked as a journalist and trend forecaster for ten years now and everyone always wants to know what’s next, who’s new, what colour now. And I include myself in that. But sometimes it’s useful to step back and see what is working. What is still here and what’s back again.

First of all what is a trend? It’s often described in style magazines as ‘having a moment’. It is current, relevant and of that moment. Which means that future-proof trends are those which are constantly re-interpreted year after year. These are trends that are always of the moment and that’s how you can tell they are future-proof.


Hi Navy Blue. You slipped quietly under the radar while we were intoxicated by grey and then blinded by millennial pink but you were there holding fast as a champion for understated style. Some of us were blighted to the charms of blue by the memory of our school uniforms but for the rest of us it has been a staple in both fashion and interiors. Classic yet totally contemporary, it’s warmer than all that charcoal we keep seeing, and like a more colourful version of grey in that it goes with everything just like grey does.

Navy blue works in light rooms to provide contrast but also in wintry spaces. It elevates simple tongue and groove and carpentry turning it into something that feels sleek and designed and is a great contrast to all the brass and copper that is still around.

Don’t just stick to walls either. It looks great on the floor as these tiles (bottom right) from Popham show.


The key thing to note about this trend is that wood will make you feel good. It’s a fact that being surrounded by natural materials has a positive impact on our well-being, and wooden interiors will create an acoustically pleasant environment that has a calming effect on both blood pressure and pulse. You can read more about that here.

Now you might think that the all wood look is dated or that it feels too vintage but that’s because it’s a classic. The rules are to go no darker than a tea stain and stick with minimal and modern lines – boxy kitchen cupboards and wood trims make a space look architectural and expensive.

For an affordable example take a look at Ikea’s new wooden kitchen cabinet doors.


This one is literally set in stone but that’s fine because that’s how confident I am about it. Any home I have ever seen that was worth its salt has incorporated patterned tiles in some capacity. Now I can’t tell you which pattern to pick as taste is subjective, but Kate and I might be able to advise in the comments section as I know she agrees with me on this one.

Decorative tiles in an interior always make me do a double take. Who was this person who made such a confident choice? What does this choice say about them? As a child in Delhi, I used to visit the beautiful house of a relative. The verandah jutted out into dense foliage and the walls of the outdoor room were covered in large tiles handpainted in vintage style butterflies and gleaming insects. They felt so real to me as a child that I would edge my way into the room keeping my distance from these creatures.

When the owner passed away and the house was sold, the family considered removing and keeping the tiles as they were so reminiscent of the owner’s personality. They weren’t my style but their essence was what gave that house its personality. I’m not suggesting you have to go wall to wall but be bold and confident – even if it’s just a detail.

I’ve even seen a house with just one tile resplendent in a threshold. It had been brought back from a memorable holiday. If you’re feeling nervous choose a pattern you love in a neutral colour or stick to a tile with just two colours.


By which I mean Regency. Did you know that’s what it was? All those turned legs we love on tables and graceful curves of armchairs that have been so popular for decades are all inspired by the restrained elegance of the 17th and 18th century. This is sort of a no-brainer. Yes the classic silhouette will always be future proof. Is it boring? Maybe a little but it’s airtight. But the idea is that you have a canvas of classic silhouettes and intersperse them with more modern and unusual pieces. You can also play with the scale as Benchmark have done above (top middle). Playing with scale is also futureproof.


“Wait. What?” I hear you say: “Tropical motifs are SO 2017. They’re all over Instagram and so eye-popping and all that stuff that’s Millennial and Urban Outfitters. This can’t be future proof. This is so trendy it has to be fleeting right?”

Wrong. Tropical prints is one of the most classic trends there is. Ferns and foliage are the epitome of classic English country style. You will find them in every issue of House and Garden and World of Interiors. And the William Morris wallpaper (top right) was created in 1887 and has been selling ever since. It’s also very old Hollywood – the Beverley Hills Hotel (top left) was decorated in 1942 with the now classic banana leaf wallpaper which you can still buy today – here – and which has totally stood the test of time.

There’s no doubt this is a trend that is having a moment but it’s definitely a classic. You can also find them in monochrome and black and white now too. It’s definitely a keeper.

So there are your five future proof trends. But if you’re interested to know more, here’s how Rohini predicts a trend.

“I have a mental desktop where I constantly file bits of information from everything I see around me. The key is to predict it a year or two in advance. Here’s the timeline of a trend:

Say I receive a press release from Ikea in 2016 ahead of the Rio Olympic Games predicting a colourful range fusing Nordic style and Brazilian colour. I might stick that in a file with an article from Vogue listing the American Trade Hotel  as one of five places to visit in Panama. It’s stunning – a riot of colour and style and different time periods.

Then I might go to Milan Design Week and see designers showing exotic prints and and motifs into their signature styles. Finally Gucci’s pre-fall 2016 collection was full of colour and print against the backdrop of a Pompeiian villa. It all starts to fall into place and Summer 17 is the Global Trend – bold prints, exotic influences and modern craft details.

Is it? You decide.”

For more of Rohini’s insights read her blog The Beat That My Heart Skipped and follow her Instagram

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    […] I’ve worked as a journalist and trend forecaster for ten years now and everyone always wants to know what’s next, who’s new, what colour now? And that includes me, but sometimes it’s useful to step back and see what is working. What is still here and what’s back again. I wrote about 5 future proof trends over on Mad About The House early this month – and yes our favourite tropical trend is a keeper. Read all about it here. […]

  • Rochelle Williams 17th July 2017 at 3:26 am

    Lovely selection by Rohini! Natural wood is and will always be in style.

  • Corinne 14th July 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I’m really pleased – and agreeably surprised! – that Rohini sees patterned tile as a future-proof trend. I spent years in retail design trying to persuade people not to regard them simply as back splashes, or practical floor and bathroom surfaces, and pattern has been a long time coming back. I’m now launching my own range of wall tiles in rich Persian glazes (clue!) and simple pattern elements; I’ve always seen tiles as art.

  • Jeanne Bernard 13th July 2017 at 2:36 pm

    You must read Malcom Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” It is about how an idea or a trend spreads. Anything he writes is great.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 13th July 2017 at 3:04 pm

      I have! I’ve read them all and am just in the middle of What The Dog Saw – lovely everything he writes.

    • Ursula in Cádiz 14th July 2017 at 4:30 pm

      I only just discovered The Tipping Point and found it fascinating – and so readable. Will now look for What The Dog Saw, Kate.

      • Kate Watson-Smyth 16th July 2017 at 2:46 pm

        IT’s short articles that one = maybe try Blink and Outliers first.

        • Ursula in Cádiz 18th July 2017 at 10:40 am

          Great, thank you for the tip Kate.

  • Mary 13th July 2017 at 9:35 am

    Great article. There really are timeless staples when it comes to interior design trends. Same can be said for fashion! No matter what new innovations pop up each year, they always stem from an original trend that set the standard. Thanks for sharing this – all these trends are sure to last the years!

  • Ruthie 13th July 2017 at 8:36 am

    Oh wow, this is a great piece, I like to think I mood board in the way that Rohini predicts trends but this piece is fantastic, agree with all the points wholeheartedly, and so pleased to have my bathroom featured in the piece, thank you xx

    • Rohini 13th July 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Ruth! Ah yes of course its your bathroom. SO gorgeous – how nice to have a mood-board worthy bathroom! : )

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