How can we make spaces more tactile, inhabitable and futureproof? Sustainable materials are a fundamental part of the equation, as Eclectic Trends founder Gudy Herder will explain during The Next Space: The Adaptive Home next week. The Barcelona-based trend forecaster will provide an introduction to these materials, outlining the ways they can shape a more conscious future for residential design.

How did you get involved in trend forecasting?

GUDY HERDER: I used to travel to 12 trade shows a year to gather information about home accessories for my main retail client. They were operating 80 shops in Spain and asked me to deliver a report of what I’d seen so we could decide on the design of upcoming collections. At a certain point, I wanted to know more less about aesthetics and more about ‘the why’, so I started studying consumer behaviour and the soft science of trend forecasting.

What will your talk at The Next Space be about?

My talk will trace a link between consumer values that are clearly defining the market and outline how to translate these into innovative materials.

What are some of the main material trends today?

We see two strong directions now, the first being toward biobased materials. This group is understood as materials intentionally made from living or once-living organic matter, such as mycelium, seaweed or local earth. The second focuses on materials made from waste such as PET bottles, discarded textiles, constructions rubble, e-waste, etc. I will address both during my talk. 

How do those trends relate to the home space – specifically the adaptive home?

I see the blurring of borders in the home. We will live in more agile, fluid spaces, making conscious decisions on how to live – which includes a more sustainable approach. There is a long way to go. Still, the responsible use of materials should not be a goal in itself but an intrinsic part of every choice we make. In the end, it all ties to the question: how do I want my home to make me feel?

Can you share a few projects that have stood out to you in terms of sustainable materiality?

There are a couple of homeware designs that show a conscious approach to materiality. The Obscure lamp shades by Biohm, for example, are made of orange peels or coffee husk waste and look amazing – and are sure to inspire great storytelling when having guests over. There is also concrete made from the waste of old rubble, burnt and crushed ores from the steel industry, or elements from computer chips. The Novel Grey creates stunning tiles for indoors and outdoors from this material: they come in a M.C. Escher-esque style, feature several colours and are handmade.

We’ve seen an increase in projects that celebrate tactility post-COVID. Why do you think this sense is important to engage?

Tactility was already huge pre-pandemic as a result of needing to touch digital surfaces so many times per day. COVID-19 has reinforced many patterns – we have been deprived of touching surfaces. I’ve been conducting tactile moodboard workshops now for years: this sense is powerful because touching a surface or material opens a dialogue, it releases oxytocin and information gets anchored in a more memorable way. 

Technologies like 3D printing, for instance, are totally changing how raw materials are used. How do you see technology’s role in helping designers use materials in a more sustainable way?

It’s a great combo, more than that; I believe it’s an evolution you can’t avoid. The TECLA house in Ravenna, Italy by Mario Cucinella is printed with local raw materials and is a best-case example. It took 200 hours to 3D print and wouldn’t have been possible without an outstanding technological process, by WASP, behind it. Research – what is possible – and technology – how to make it possible – are both essential for going that path.

From a material perspective, what will help futureproof homes?

Accessible information and education – end-consumers are not well informed on what is available on the market and how they can make different choices. Often, it’s still the role of the architect or interior designer to bring sustainable innovations into the homes: you can’t yet go into a retail outlet and find significant options for sustainable design. We need to make these much more accessible for everybody who wants to make conscious decisions about what material their cabinets are made of, for instance, or how they can bring sound-absorbing solutions into the home. These designs are present at fairs, but they are not very accessible to the public for now.

Get your tickets to The Next Space here.