Tastes and styles change with the decades—and sometimes with just the seasons—and what is considered fashionable now may seem hopelessly dated in just a few years. (Just look at bell bottoms.) That said, innovations and re-imaginings in residential architecture and design are constantly coming onto the market, and being disseminated throughout housing markets across the country by armies of developers and their crews.
Just how architectural trends start is, of course, something of a mystery. Once upon a time, it was influential mavens like New York City’s Lady Astor deciding that green would be the color for the year. But there is some method to the madness. “I think a lot of it is industry-related, a lot of it is [driven by] technology,” says Kyle Page, an architect and principal at Sundial Studios in New York City. For example, the current emphasis on sustainability might drive style, and there are technological and material capabilities now that were impossible even five years ago. “I also look at trade magazines. We visit [brand] reps, and reps visit us to explain new product lines, new technology, and how products and systems are evolving.”
That said, trends are about what’s in style, and what’s in style is driven by aesthetic concerns—and those concerns are often inspired elsewhere. “We attend the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) every year, and it’s fun to visit,” Page says. “I describe it as similar to going to an art gallery; eighty percent of it is neither here nor there, ten percent of it really bothers me and I think it’s off-target, and ten percent of it is ideas that really excite me.” For Page and professionals like him, those ideas, of course, are ultimately what drive trends.
Let’s take a look at some ideas and innovations that are trending at the moment, both in the Windy City and elsewhere.
Durability and Ease of Use
“On the exterior side of it, durability is the key thing,” says Matt Tinder of the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C. “People want more bang for their buck. They want to be able to manage their home with the least amount of work. They don’t want to have to address a lot of issues every year. That’s the big thing that we’ve seen.”