The evolution of interior design

Interior design, much like fashion trends, has evolved over time and will, undoubtedly, continue to do so. Design trends have tended to change in-line with current affairs and issues that collectively, as a nation, are gaining more awareness. We have seen, for example, a shift from the 1960s where disposable plastics were commonly used as furniture, to today – where recycled materials are encouraged in a bid to save the planet.


The evolution of interior design has also been applied to the workplace, with many offices now making the effort to create a design that stays true to today’s environmental awareness. But just how, exactly, has interior design evolved over the decades?



We’re going right back to the mid 20th century, when interior design really took off. Bright, vibrant colours were a common choice, with fuchsia pink and purple featuring in many homes. Much of the design inspiration was taken from the Victorian and Georgian eras, and this was combined with the current affairs of the decade – including the Space Age, which saw the incorporation of pod-shaped furnishings. People were heavily focused on futuristic design, using plastic blow-up furniture and patterned wallpaper. Little attention was given to environmental conservation, with the central focus remaining on the aesthetics.



As the hippie culture emerged, however, people were drawn towards indoor plants and making use of the surrounding nature. This was paired with layering textures, geometric patterns, open-plan space and exposed brickwork – most of which have made a comeback amongst the homes of today.



The 1980s was a decade still representative of neon colours, but pastel shades soon emerged to create a shabby chic style. Carpets were a common feature, whilst furniture was given a distressed, rustic look.



The 1990s saw a shift back from natural indoor foliage towards faux flowers – but overall interior design was kept more minimalistic, with primary colours used to make a statement.


2000s-present day

Bolder, statement colours were still popular as the new millennium arrived, with feature walls taking pride of place.


As we move into present day, it’s clear that interior design has drastically changed – although inspiration has been taken from previous decades. Interior design has really been stripped back, with neutral colour palettes and multi-functional furniture used as a way of creating a decluttered, refreshing space. Much more emphasis has also been placed on maximising our mental and physical health, with person-centred designs dominating.


Biophilic design has emerged as an increasingly popular trend, which has been inspired by a combination of the previous ‘hippie’ era and Scandinavian-inspired design. As a nation, we’re becoming increasingly aware of our need to reconnect with nature and increase environmental awareness, forming the reasoning behind our increased use of natural, recyclable materials inside the home.



Earthy colours, exposed brickwork and industrial elements are also used in the home to add character amongst an otherwise neutral colour palette.


How is this applied to the workplace?

The 20th and early  21st centuries saw offices featuring cubicles and a one-size-fits-all design. It was discovered, over time, that this was not the best design for meeting individual working needs and maximising employee motivation.



In 2019, we are increasingly seeing interior design as a central focus of the workplace, with many employers looking towards the minimalist, person-centred approach that’s now being adopted to produce happier, more motivated workers. A clutter-free, flexible, comfortable office that’s reflective of the home has shown to work wonders for employee happiness and morale.


Read our previous blog post to discover more about how workplace design has changed through the generations.


At Cobus, we’re always staying on top of the latest trends in interior design to help create spaces that are professional, comfortable and inspiring. To speak to a member of our team, click here.