The Art of Trend Spotting

An interview with Nadia McCowan Hill, Wayfair Europe’s resident style advisor.

I have always been interested in trends and how they form. They are a reflection of how we live and what we value. From cars and fashion to furniture and art, there is always something trending and a lot of research goes into predicting what’s going to be the next best thing. As a Senior UK Copywriter at Wayfair, I think about interior design trends a lot. How can I leverage them to connect with audiences and stay current? What trends should I focus on exploring and what are the best resources for spotting trends before they actually take shape?

Last week I sat down with interiors expert Nadia McCowan Hill to better understand how trends develop. As resident style advisor for Wayfair Europe, Nadia McCowan Hill helps our customers find the right pieces for their homes. Pieces that reflect their lifestyle and personality. Nadia joined Wayfair in 2014 as Managing Editor, before taking the role of Head of Content for Wayfair Europe in August 2015. With an eagle-eye for spotting new looks, Nadia leads on trend forecasting at the online homeware destination and her expert commentary and interiors advice has been featured by the likes of Ideal Home, Country Living, House Beautiful, Red, Cosmopolitan, Wunderweib, Möbelkultur and other leading interiors publications. She is passionate about interiors and is a serial home improver who spends her weekends trawling thrift stores for upcycle-worthy finds.

SD: Should shoppers use seasonal trends to buy furniture?

NMH: When it comes to buying furniture, I actually tend to steer away from trends towards more timeless core styles as we typically switch out our furniture less frequently and therefore it pays to choose pieces that stand the test of time. Trends are however fantastic for adding a little pizzazz to a space and it’s especially fun to be able to flirt with the latest looks on smaller ticket items. My go-tos for a fashion-forward fix are cushions, rugs, decor and wall art, which you can refresh easily and affordably.

SD: How can creative copywriters foresee interior design trends?

NMH: Various elements come together to help inform trend forecasting: At Wayfair, we source our vast selection of homeware from more than 23,000 suppliers around the globe, so we see an enormous amount of different pieces and are able to laser in on what is trending, based on what is coming to market as well as what our customers are buying.

Trade shows such as Maison et Objet in Paris, Salone de Mobile in Milan, IMM in Cologne and London Design Week are a real hot bed of the latest looks and a great way to see emerging themes in furniture and decor. The global Fashion Weeks are another great inspiration, as so much of what is on the catwalks trickles into the home. At Wayfair, we also use Global Trend Forecasters like WGSN and Trend Bible to get the inside scoop on what’s trending at a cultural macro level, from a design “look and feel” perspective and also at a micro level, assessing emerging colours, shapes and finishes. We also make sure we stay connected with tastemakers within the industry, from following designers and blogs to relevant industry publications. All of these things in combination help us to stay ahead of the curve and foresee the looks that are emerging.

SD: How has COVID changed/influenced trends and the way we buy for home?

NMH: COVID had a huge impact on our relationship with our homes: We spent extended periods inside and had time to reflect on the importance of our interior and its effect on our life and well-being. Spaces became far more multi-functional, with rooms having to double duty as places for work, life and play. A number of key changes have remained within the post lockdown landscape:

  • Comfort is key: We have seen a huge uptick in appetite for items that cocoon us, with curved pieces remaining popular. There is also a real emphasis on items that improve convenience, from hot taps to thermostatic showers.
  • The Fifth Room: The trend for ‘bringing the outdoors in’ dominated for a number of years, but post COVID, the garden itself has taken on far greater significance […] and people have turned their gardens into real living spaces.
  • The Great Escape: Searches for sheds doubled during the peak COVID period and we are still showing appetite for creating extra spaces from home offices to art studios.
  • Fast fixes: We have become more experimental and adventurous with DIY and making quick and easy renovation updates is a trend that is set to stay.

SD: What are you excited about right now that’s trending?

NMH:

  • Dopamine decor: There is a major trend for furniture and decor that sparks joy, whether it be a bold neon accent, a quirky statement chair or a bold bed.
  • Home libraries: Perhaps a kick back from the relentless use of technology, home libraries are trending and you don’t need a vast pad to have one. Just devote a clear corner to your bookworm pursuits and don’t forget a sprinkling of decor, art and plants to jazz your shelfies up!
  • Biophilic Design: is having a real moment. Think calming environments with lots of natural lighting, plants and a visual connection with nature. The perfect antidote to our fast paced lives!
  • Old meets new: I’ve always been a fan of eclecticism and love the trend for mixing high and low pieces as well as vintage finds with more contemporary designs. I think it makes a space look more interesting and characterful.
  • Maximalism: Going all out on seasonal moments, from Halloween and Easter to Christmas is a trend that’s set to stay. There is a focus on more-is-more decor!

SD: What designers do you follow?

NMH: I follow a real mix of designers: I’m a big fan of Beata Heuman, who does a wonderful job of blending old and new in a way that is always surprising, unique and beautiful. Studio Duggan is another source of inspo with a similarly eclectic style. I love Eye Swoon for her artfully undone and understated aesthetic and India Mahdavi for her bold and beautiful style.

In today’s rapidly changing world it’s increasingly important for copywriters to understand trends and not just react to them. Going to trade shows, looking at customer insights and connecting with experts like Nadia will help us understand our products better. At the end of the day the goal is to spot budding trends that inspire our customers to effortlessly create the homes they love.

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