A new reality: Say hello to our Digitally Authentic trend
With many of us physically isolated from friends and family over the past year, it would be natural to assume that we have been adversely affected by a lack of human connection. We are, after all, social beings at heart. But this physical disconnection has, for many, actually led to an increased sense of connection thanks to the rapid adoption of digital communication. Whereas we may often think of the internet as something that can divide us and polarise our views, we've seen first-hand that it also has the power to draw us closer together in a time of crisis.
Alongside this increased uptake in digital activities such as video conferencing, virtual reality video games and online exercise classes, there has also been a huge acceleration in the pace of advancements in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. So what does this mean for life beyond Covid-19?
We predict that the new habits we've formed, as well the digital advancements that have gone alongside them, will become a permanent part of our lives for years and even decades to come.
This shift in our approach to the digital world is encapsulated in our 'Digitally Authentic' theme – the third and final instalment of our Trends Book for 2020/2021. In this blog post, we explore the way in which our real and virtual lives have collided in a post-pandemic world.
Where virtual meets reality
Retailers moved fast in response to the arrival of Covid-19, and it wasn't long before we saw Augmented Reality (AR) shopping experiences popping up all over the internet. Make-up brands allowed us to try before we buy in the comfort of our own bathrooms thanks to AR and interiors retailers encouraged us to preview products in our living rooms before making a purchase.
In fact, we saw a boom in internet shopping as a whole, with an easy switch made by millions of families worldwide to buying groceries online. Consumers have also embraced buying items virtually which they would only previously have considered purchasing in a bricks and mortar store. According to research carried out by McKinsey, the growth in online sales of home furnishings and appliances in the US is expected to be up 30% post-pandemic in relation to consumers' pre-Covid shopping habits.
And when it comes to willingness to change shopping habits, high-income earners and millennials are leading the way in terms of making the switch to online. But whatever our age, it looks like the way we shop has changed forever.
During the challenging times we've all experienced lately, the importance of human connection has never felt more crucial. And while we may once have viewed digital worlds as potentially isolating, we've grown to understand that they can, in fact, provide vital connections.
Take the way in which Zoom calls, for example, have transcended international boundaries, bringing people together from different continents to bake, sing or even crochet together! Or how the power of digital has enabled us to work remotely from home – in some cases operating more effectively than when we were in the same physical space as our colleagues.
One thing's for sure – our need for connection is stronger than ever. "As humans, we are hardwired to connect," says Michael Lee Stallard, an author and expert on the benefits of human connection. "We are drawn to talking through our issues, learning from each other, being encouraged, corrected and motivated by those around us. A lack of sufficient connection is dangerous because social connection is a primal human need. Connection is also a 'super power' that makes human beings smarter, happier and more productive."
Research has also shown that social connections can actually improve the ways in which our immune system responds to viruses, making these human touchpoints – even the virtual ones – more vital than ever.
How digital drives design
Technological advances are also having a massive impact on the world of design. Digital innovations such as 3D rendering techniques now allow designers to fully visualise a potential room layout so that they can bring it to life for their client. Not only does this make the design process more affordable, it also allows designers to take greater risks, opening up the parameters of their creativity.
As part of our TwinBru initiative, we're also using 3D technology to bring you the most photo-realistic images of your chosen fabric. That way you can take the guess work out of selecting fabrics remotely by trying out our fabrics in your virtual interior before you buy.
In terms of the impact of 'Digital authenticity' in the design world, we're seeing this aesthetic reflected in the curved shapes of cosy, welcoming bouclé sofas and in stunning iridescent light fittings such as the 'Melt' Pendant from Tom Dixon (https://www.tomdixon.net/en_gb/shop/families/melt.html). And in relation to our new fabric collections, our 'Digitally Authentic' theme takes shape in the form of ethereal, cloud-like quilted velvets and plush chenilles.
The pared-back palette we've chosen is inspired by ethereal colours such as pale pink, light blue and muted purple – all designed to comfort and cocoon you as you retreat into your digital world.