Global Interior Design Industry & Market

Global Interior Design Industry & Market Updated

Two Professionals Discuss European and American Interior Design and How Lockdowns Affected the Design Industry

Interior Design Industry
Interior Design Industry

As you likely know, I am an interior designer based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach. What you may not know is that it was in the heart of Europe where BRANA Designs, an interior design studio, was created.

Knowing the European design market like the back of my hand and seeing interest in true European design from Americans, it made perfect sense to establish my design studio in the United States where I proudly create upscale interiors with a European feel. Because of my unique experience and background, people often ask me about the real differences between these two different countries in terms of style, trends, and the design market.

With lockdowns connecting people more to their interiors, the changing markets, and people’s changing perception on design, this seemed like the perfect time to answer this question.

To really broaden the perspective I can share, I invited my favorite expert on design, straight from Milan, Ewa Wilkos. Ewa is the founder and journalist of Dreams & Designs, which was founded out of her love for design, culture, travel and writing.

For those of you not familiar with it, Dreams & Designs is not the typical DIY journal. It also highlights the connection between design and other creative disciplines, in terms of communication, not the technical details. In addition to design, she talks about her marathon trips through all the European galleries, design shows including Salon de Milan, and other beautiful places to get inspired.

So if you are into art and design visit her Dreams & Design blog, I am sure you will love it as I do.

In the meantime, read on to discover some of the differences between European and American markets, interior design industry, trends, our favorite artists, and design shows worth visiting. We also share our thoughts on the future of the interior design industry & market after lockdowns and the changes on the horizon that may have had nothing to do with it.

Let’s explore together.

Key Differences Between the European and American Interior Design Trends

Trends in the design world last longer than trends in fashion which means that several of the trends that were popular in 2020 will hold in 2021 and potentially beyond.

We always recommend that trends be considered with caution unless you’re prepared to redecorate after the current trends have passed. Rather than ending up with a trend that is copied all over Instagram and will feel dated soon, we tell my clients to use the trends to draw inspiration, find a fun piece that refreshes the space, or simply look for accents to update the room.

European Interior Design Trends.

2020 brought the use of natural materials including marble, stone, terracotta, cane, wood, and even straw, into the forefront of design. This trend carried through residential as well as commercial properties and shows no signs of going away. In fact, we’re seeing more of these elements incorporated into furnishings, accessories, and even built-in elements to enhance the space and bring the outside in. 

In addition, 1970s references are used in a variety of ways and rooms are incorporating darker color palettes such as deep blues, greens and reds to create a uniquely luxurious experience. Furnishings have turned to velvet fabrics with a soft hand and visual movement and sofas and chairs have curvy shapes that anchor rooms while creating interest for the eye.

United States Interior Design Trends.

One unique place where trends seem to change rapidly and differ from the rest is Orange County, California. With its mix of beachy looks, meditennerean architecture, contemporary high tech homes, and farmhouses (yes, for real, farmhouse is a current trend right here, right now), this region is one of the more eclectic design areas in the United States.

At the other end of the spectrum you’ll find metropolitan cities, like Los Angeles, San Diego and New York, where European trends fit perfectly and where there is tremendous demand for elements with this influence. These metropolitan cities are commonly classified as diverse and artsy, while Orange County and other suburbs tend to take a more classic approach with light color interiors and cozy beachy style.

How Lockdowns Changed the Trends.

Lockdowns has left its mark on every aspect of modern life. Design trends are not immune with people taking greater interest in their living environment because they are spending more time there. 

Entertaining spaces are not getting the attention that they had previously as social distancing norms limit gatherings. 

Emerging trends include light and airy spaces, clean lines, multi-functional spaces, and upscale Zoom backgrounds. 

Office remodels and re-designed living rooms and bedrooms are part of this. With schools in flux, gorgeous trendy kids’ rooms with functional spaces supporting school by Zoom.

Our Favorite Artists

While neither of us have a “single” favorite artist, we share a passion for art and its application in the context of interior design. In discussing the various applications we discovered that we are both drawn to beautiful chandeliers by Czech manufacturers, Bomma, Sklo and Brokis

In addition, contemporary art, including works by James Turrell, Gerhard Richter and Olafur Eliasson are among our all-time favorites. 

We both agree that there’s always a place for timeless designs by Verner Panton (Panton chair), Ettore Sottsass (Ultrafragola mirror) and Eero Saarinen (Tulip armchair) alongside contemporary avant-garde pieces by young designers, Sabine Marcelis, Oskar Zieta, and Maand outdoor furniture by Derek Castiglioni.

When the mood for the extravagant strikes, we find Matteo Cibic, Qeeboo, Emmanuel Babled, and Lisa Hilland, as well as upscale and elegant forever in Alma de Luce.

We also have several favorite Interior designers who inspire us, specifically Li Xiang, Marcel Wanders, and Kelly Behun, all definitely worth checking out. 

Global Design Shows You Must Attend

There are so many wonderful shows around the world that showcase the best of design, however a few offer a diverse variety of items that are truly the best of the best.

Milan Design Week - ventura centrale.jpg
Credit to: Milan Design Week - ventura centrale.jpg

Milan Design Week and its Salon De Milan is not only an international trade show, but also FuoriSalone, an event together with MDW that features countless installations in the showrooms and historic palaces around the city. 

Each district of Milan prepares something special and it’s a great place to discover new talent, both Italian and international. Few people actually think that Milan is the most beautiful city in Italy, but thanks to design it’s definitely the coolest. 

Other incredible places to visit in Milan include the iconic Milanese landmarks such as Duomo and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Moving to the 20thand 21stcentury architecture,  Villa Necchi Campiglio, the Pirelli Tower, and the Bosco Verticale are favorites. 

The contemporary art museums, including Fondazione Prada, Hangar Bicocca, and Rossana Orlandi’s design gallery are places where you can find truly unique pieces. This is due in part to the fact that in Milan, tourism, art, design, architecture, and fashion are so closely intertwined.

Archdigest Design Show.

The AD show is another great show to visit, it brings together upscale design international art pieces, and provides another reason to visit NYC. This fast-paced and diverse city is a place that everyone must visit.

We are both saddened to have missed our favorite shows during lockdown, however we are still visiting Design Week in Miami this November! 

We are excited and hopeful to enjoy more  events in 2021 and agree that it will be interesting to see how much the trends change!

How Lockdowns Affected the Interior Design Industry and Market

The lockdowns was a shock to the design system. It caused the cancellation of important design fairs, affected factories and production, created a lot of delays with closed harbors, and left much uncertainty in Italy and other metropolitan regions around the globe.

One change that we’ve seen during this time has been the advent of online showcases

As Zoom because the go-to for communication, the design world attempted to pivot as well. Some brands did this exceedingly well. However not all brands, especially some of the young designers, were able to afford online presentations. In addition, there is something lacking to the online format when it is applied to design and that is the tactile or experiential side of things.

Our hope is that this pause has given creators more time to think about new ideas, which could lead to a wealth of trends emerging once we come through the pandemic.

For consumers, many are spending more time than usual at home. There is a definite focus more on designing for comfort with multi-functional spaces that focus on a healthy, clean environment.

The future of BRANA Designs.

For designers, there has been good and bad. The good is that we expanded remotely. Working from a home office changed my perspective and I adjusted my design process to work that way. This change forced me to truly focus on the design process only and expand my brand BRANA Designs worldwide.

Today I find myself working on projects in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Prague, and having support of my design team remotely. This way, I am able to provide the same quality of work as I did in person because of the project management process that I developed. 

On the flip side, the negative impact of lockdowns on the interior design industry and market is the expansion of unprofessional online designers and hungry large companies, that offer an interior design service as low as $50 per room. 

Working with such companies may be a great solution for people who seek the cheapest and temporary solution to their home. Note to say, that everything what is temporary always leads to mass-production. And my responsibility as a designer is to avoid it.

Luckily, the high-end clientele don’t seek this, rather they look for experience, connection, and access to quality, one-of-a-kind pieces. 

That said, it does make you wonder what the future will look like. Can larger companies diminish the designers work, value, and reputation? 

…But was the interior design market shift caused by lockdowns?

In looking at the world before lockdowns and since I have to say that I don’t believe so. The changes in interior design market started with the advent of Pinterest and the growth of the DIY’ers. Houzz with its low-quality knockouts also impacted this, so it was really just a question of time.

The real question is, what is the future of interior design as an industry and what will happen to the demand for luxury, upscale homes as we head into the post-pandemic era.

Thanks for reading!

Helena & Ewa


A glimpse into my interior design journey, providing a behind-the-scenes look at our projects, insights into design trends, and exciting discoveries from events like Salone del Mobile in Milan and Maison & Objet in Paris, where I source inspirations for our projects.