Interior Design has been a fluid field for Architects, Interior Designers and decorators alike. Primitively Interior design was limited to interior temple carvings, public halls, museums, offices, etc. Very recently the trend to design home interiors has taken the world by storm. 

Unlike Architecture, Interior design is ephemeral and very close to the human scale. The needs and trends in interior designs are in constant flux due to the humans who inhabit these spaces and also as the direct effects of digital media. Thus, as a fluid, ever-changing and ephemeral discipline, Interior Design has a range of trends under its belt. 

A space interacts with its surroundings in many ways – the people moving in and out, the surrounding spaces and their traffic, portrayal in media, etc. Thus, the interiors of such a space are dynamic and have a direct influence on the psychological states of the humans that inhabit them as well as on the collective identity through their influence on lifestyles, gender, social class, and values. 

Interior Design trends often follow culturally influenced art and relevant art movements. Thus the tail end of the 20th century saw influences of modernism in their interior styles. Art Deco and Modernism made their way from architecture to the interior spaces in the form of clean lines, simplicity of form, and modern materials and finishes like inlaid wood, chrome, oil polished bronze, and lacquer. 

However, as the world became more connected, at the onset of the 21st century, the design also took a global approach. 

Trends in the decade 2000 – 2010

Contemporary styles in interior design took the world by storm during the transition to the 21st century. By the 2000s in India, minimalist experiments with its Indian Avatars were a common practice. Intricate detailing, clean and uncluttered looks were all the rage.

The advent of media from interior design magazines to home improvement television shows introduced increased knowledge of interior design to the general population, and people started decorating their homes to display their unique design preferences.

Boxy and straight-lined styles, L-shaped sofas, dominant coffee tables, beds with big fabric headboards; all represented our abrupt rise to abundant consumerism at the start of the 20th Century. 

Evolution of Interior Design in 21st century - Sheet1
A living room in the early 2000s_©Michael Yarish/AMC

Living Room: The onset of new technology allowed for large TV sets in the living room, thus an entertainment unit or a TV cabinet was a characteristic design element.

Kitchen: Open plan kitchens were an innovation in the ’10s, and their clean white cabinets and dark countertops were an aesthetic to aspire to. While still in a nascent stage in India, the open plan layout was a massive success replicated all over the world. 

Bedroom: Damask Prints aplenty, bold and heavily woven fabric was the characteristic design for many bedroom spaces. Large fabric headboards and lace were also ubiquitous elements. Dusty pastels, wallpapers, and paint stencils were the go-to accents for a bedroom wall.

Paint Trends: Most of the aesthetics of the ’10s constituted of muted, neutral hues like browns and whites. However, a bold accent wall in a deep shade created a characteristic look so common that Pantone named “True Red” as its color of the year in 2002 and “Blue Iris” in 2008.

Apart from residential interiors, commercial and hospitality interior designing also gained more importance. Customer appeal and aspiration to have a good aesthetic created a fast-growing demand in the industry.

Trends in the decade 2011 – 2020

The second decade of the century saw a rise in globalization and with it; access to multiple media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest that further influenced the population about styles and aesthetics. 

The latter half of the decade saw exponential development in technology and that led to homes becoming modern, with modern gadgets, systems, and more emphasis on being able to make optimum use of compact space. More and more home-owners fully adopted the open-plan layout to create a more spacious look.  

Evolution of Interior Design in 21st century - Sheet2
A living room in the decade 2010-2020_©

Living Room: Convertible sofa sets, geometric prints, and minimalist elegant pieces of furniture became the trend. Functionality in a small space was of priority in these times. Dining sets have given way and ushered in entirely new seats at the dinner table; the living room was a combination of different seating and people were experimenting brazenly with fabric, and color had been invited to the furniture in a major way.

Kitchen: Open-shelved kitchens to make the space feel more open and airy were the new trend, although it involved having to maintain greater cleanliness and organization. 

Bedroom: A switch from the swinging doors to the sliding door helped save precious bedroom space and also created a more streamlined look. 

Paint Trends: Fresh greens and pinks were complimented with whites to inflate the volume in a small space. The Pantone color of the year was “Honeysuckle” in 2011 and “Greenery” in 2017.

The evolution of Interior Design was also seen in commercial and retail spaces as malls became the new, frequently visited public spaces. A trend of creating new and unique aesthetics for retail shops and brands was on the rise. 

The Present and the Future

The year 2020 was full of surprises and new encounters which have translated into us experiencing spaces with a new perspective. We will need to reinvent our lives and styles to renew and maintain our equilibrium with nature. The year has also taught us to be flexible and innovative while the need for good and sustainable design has become apparent. 

Evolution of Interior Design in 21st century - Sheet3
Living room trends in 2021_©Verzelloni

Here are a few trends that will possibly rule the decade 2021-2030:

Work from home: As we continue to work from home even through the first quarter of 2021, the ease of this system is apparent to many businesses. This will lead to the need for more flexible spaces as we eat, drink, exercise, and socialize in the same four walls. Smart furniture and technologically advanced systems for kitchen appliances lead the way this decade.

Materials and Styles: The Industrial Style aesthetic with metallic fixtures, weathered wood, and concrete is making a comeback. A much-needed emergence of eco-friendly design materials, from rattan bookcases to wicker chairs, can be expected to be seen in furniture and accessories. 

Paint Trends: Greys seem to be making a mark on this decade as cool and vibrant color schemes connect modernity and technology with elegance. Pantone’s colors of the year 2021 are “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating”. A trend of “Maximalism” with bright colors and Boho aesthetics is also seen very often in modern homes.


"Shama Patwardhan, an Architect from Mumbai, is passionate about architecture and inquisitive about its implications on Social Equity. A human being with eternal panic, she is fond of poetry, art, literature and cat videos on the internet."

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