Three Ways Covid-19 Has Affected The Interior Design Market

Andrey Ustyugov is the CEO at Planner 5D, an easy-to-use home design platform powered by AI, AR and VR technologies. 

During the pandemic, our attitude toward our home has changed significantly, affecting the entire interior design market. And according to the American Society of Interior Designers, 51% of designers have already adjusted to the new norm.

The Pandemic Has Split The Interior Design Market 

The pandemic has dramatically changed consumption habits, as it happened during the previous one in 1918: People started to redesign their kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. Powder rooms were invented for people to sanitize their hands before interacting with other people. And now our home has become a kind of refuge as well. People tend to forget the original meaning of home — being a personal stronghold. People stopped buying apartments and primarily switched to renting, whether because of the rising prices or changing habits. Consumers were encouraged to eat out more, which led to declined kitchen size.

However, during the pandemic, we ended up locked at home and forced to live there. Your home now has to fulfill all kinds of needs, providing a place for work, recreation, dining, studying, etc. And what we’ve noticed is that people now value their home again. Wayfair stock has grown 10 times since the start of the pandemic.

The home renovation market has reported accordingly. More people are hiring designers, investing in renovations and taking interest in interior design trends.

Technologies Couldn’t Alleviate The Lack Of Physical Space And Facilities 

Over the two years of the pandemic, more and more people began to visualize their living spaces, so brands started adopting AR technologies not as a gimmick but as a viable alternative to showcase their products and offerings. One of the most obvious applications is simply allowing consumers to place furniture in their current homes to see how it feels. While earlier you could be motivated to go outside to do shopping, now you don’t always get an opportunity and this encourages both businesses and consumers to adopt virtual technologies. Still, it will probably take us about 10 years for VR and AR to become an indispensable part of our life.

Technology has certainly allowed us to overcome most aspects of the pandemic, making it possible to continue working and studying, but it’s still early to say it can solve everything. The tech we have isn’t that great but we have to go with it because of the market pressure. And the market is unlikely to return to its previous position. Even Ikea is now looking toward new consumer experiences, despite the fact that it was always fighting for traditional ways of selling to the detriment of its e-commerce component.

People Want More From Their Homes Now

The perception of housing as a shelter will remain with us after the pandemic. People will invest more and more in their personal space to have more comfortable and specialized zones for specific household routines, ranging from work to playing with kids.

People have realized they need to build out zones for these activities and some figured out their home isn’t really working out for that, whether it’s just space or something more nuanced.

Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index report found that 73% of employees expressed a desire for flexible work options post-pandemic, while 66% of businesses were considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments. Companies like GoogleTwitter and Amazon are publicly committed to a flexible workplace model. A CNBC survey of top executives in human resources, finance and technology indicated that 45% of companies will use a hybrid work model in the second half of 2021. The interior design will be reshuffled around the fact that the remote work is here to stay.

The pandemic is subsiding, but the demand is still there. There is a surge in orders throughout the home renovation industry, and the housing market is also growing. The pandemic forces consumers to acknowledge their needs and rethink their ideas about their home and then businesses react and adapt accordingly.

How You Can Leverage This Shift In Consumer Needs

A lot of companies in the space have tried to preserve their offline-first model — they believed that their goal was to attract customers to the store first and then deal with them. Ikea did that in Europe as it preferred to drive people to its superior and thought-out store experience. But this option was challenged over the last two years, and businesses that haven’t embraced online suffered. That’s one of the lessons: Look at what market leaders are doing at the moment. They’re either the first or the last companies to change.

The first step for classic offline businesses is to provide delivery as an option to their customers, and that’s pretty straightforward. In all regions of the world, you can find third-party networks that can deliver your goods, whether it’s a small lamp or a giant bed.

What comes next is much more difficult. You need to redefine the customer experience and build a digital alternative. Yes, when everyone was locked down at home, people would use almost any service available to get what they needed. But we adapted, and choosing some goods on a webpage is way more difficult than others. Particularly with furniture, you need to understand how it fits into your home, into your existing environment. In the long run, that would be beneficial for your business.

The key step is to stop deceiving yourself that everything will simply return to normal. We’ll probably be stuck with remnants of this pandemic for a long time, and the old consumer habits will not revert back. The changes are inevitable and we have to embrace them.


Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?