The Home of the Future

May 19, 2017

The home has always been a space in which we can see the changes in how people live. It serves as a canvas for people to collect, curate and present objects that represent their lifestyle and aspirations. We can also see how the use of space within the home has taken on a fluidity, leaving behind the divide between formal and informal rooms. We’ve seen the death of the dining room as eating habits have become more informal and meals have migrated to the kitchen, or a lap in front of a screen. So what are the desires of our future selves and by extension, our private space in 2025? What’s changing in how we socialise, entertain, cook and even sleep in the home of the future? Earlier this week, Unruly unveiled a 2000 sq ft. presentation of the Home of the Future, and invited our CEO and co-owner Meabh Quoirin, to provide insights into the future of our living spaces in various spots during the tour.

What do we think of the future of the living room?

When we ask people what they want more of in their lives, it is just 3% of global consumers who want more possessions. Minimalism is the attitude that will carry into the vision for our future homes, where electronics will no longer be displayed as a status symbol but assume an altogether quieter presence. In line with the clutter-free design ethic for interiors, consumers will expect their technology to also deliver a more understated aesthetic beauty. Wires, buttons, chrome  –  all are now under attack as clutter as we move towards a sleeker, more understated  –  and perhaps sometimes even invisible technology.

Although there is a rise of TV show consumption taking place on laptops, the TV retains an important function in our home as an entertainment shrine. 80% of kids watch TV with their families and a majority of 65% still watch DVDs. However, in those periods of inactivity, consumers will expect their TVs to fade into the background, perhaps becoming canvases to screen artwork or atmospheric fire crackle when not in use. Multipurpose and adaptable, consumers of the future are wary of digital overload; when it comes to technology we need it to be there when we want it but otherwise, objects should be unobtrusive or even invisible.


The future of the kitchen?

The kitchen will remain as a site of congregation and socialising – 83% of families eat meals together and 43% cook together. The future of the kitchen will see a strong shift from smartphone led household management to a reliance on AI that is fuelling a new ‘platform race’ where consumer discovery and choice is increasingly determined by algorithms.  An average of 33% of UK consumers are interested in a service that automatically buys and delivers basic household supplies however, this increases to 56% when looking at 16-24 age group. Our trend Branding Bypass sees the emergence of invisible commerce, where smart devices in the home track household supplies and automatically re-order them when stocks are running low (think cereal, washing up liquid, stock cubes). By 2025, we forecast that 7% will be using auto-replenishment and 65% will be interested or most likely using the service. The rise of intelligent algorithm-led discovery gives consumers the opportunity to outsource their choice of brand, increasing efficiency and convenience in their lives.


And the future of the bathroom?

Consumers are on the hunt for self-optimisation and there is a role to play for connected objects in the bathroom. Think smart mirrors that can read everything from vital signs to cosmetic imperfection, covering the user’s concerns holistically and providing personalised feedback in real time. Globally, 47% of respondents indicate interest in a beauty service that could create personalised cosmetics based on skin type. For women, this reaches two thirds, but it’s not by any means insignificant for men at 1 in 3. Is this indicative of the broadening appeal of these types of products? We think so.

There is opportunity for this to take place within our homes, as we see developments of our bathrooms into a wellness space. A number of product launches both in personal care and in appliances are chasing the creation of an in-home spa.


What about the future of the bedroom?

Consumers are more concerned about their appearance and health, in relation to all aspects of their life. We see sleep being rebranded as the route to wellness and total optimisation. Globally, two thirds of consumers tell us that for them, getting enough sleep is a route to healthy living and 10% are using their smartphone or other devices to monitor their sleep patterns.  We see campaigns like Ikea’s ‘The Wonderful Everynight’, where a voiceover akin to those used in competitive sports encourages audiences to commit to bedtime. And it’s not just sleep, downtime is also growing in importance and we even see the emergence of performative downtime on social media, where consumers share snaps of hygge and their relaxation routines. Combine this with the social shareability within sleep-tracking apps and it becomes another area of a consumer’s life to perfect and project.

And whilst rest is important, this is not just about winding down; it’s also about gearing up. Many are on a quest for more energy, seeking natural ways to boost their vitality and recharge. From circadian (body clock sensitive) lighting systems in the home that boost energy levels to the arrival of “clean” energy drinks, optimising performance in everyday life is no longer reserved for the elites of Silicon Valley but something sought after by the average consumer.


Questions to think about

All of this makes us think about brands taking a more active role within our home and the pervasiveness of technology in our private space. Here are some of the questions that arose during our experience of the Unruly Home of the Future showroom, what are your thoughts?

  • How will the perception of the home as a private space change as brands enter our personal ‘sanctuary’?
  • Tech has been conventionally seen as a disruptor to family time. However, if it’s ‘invisible’ in the sense that it is so integrated within our homes (e.g smart walls, floors and screens) does it change how we feel about digital detox?
  • How much would we implement AR in our homes, over physical objects? Digital provides flexibility and personalisation – imagine wallpaper that can change like a Snapchat filter through augmented reality. How much will this threaten material objects in our home?
  • How attached are we to physical things? We have seen the death of objects e.g. CDs and bookcases are no longer fashionable to hold books. In the home of the future, what is the next object to die?
  • And what will the trophies be?
  • Due to the functionality of the smart home of the future,  will we ever want to leave our homes? What will affect the success of the all-inclusive space that our homes will become?
  • The risk of cyber security increases, especially if software to protect us does not keep up with the rate of which connected technology is entering our everyday lives (think of the NHS hack), therefore, at what stage do we allow convenience to trump our perceived sense of security?

Written by Laura Dennehy

I am the Head of Content Solutions at Foresight Factory and am responsible for innovating how we use trends to answer client questions and improving the ways we understand consumers.

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