Marcus Engman is the head of design for Ikea, a source of cheap, easily attainable furniture for decades. Fast Company shares what Engman thinks we will see in our apartments and homes by 2020.
As more people choose the urban lifestyle over large homes in the suburbs, our living spaces will get smaller and furniture will be required to serve more than one purpose. Rather than a sofa, a lot of people will be using day beds that they can also sleep in at night or use to host guests. There's also no need to center your furniture arrangement around a television as more people watch entertainment on their phones or laptops. Tables will become the new multitasking must have piece of the future, being used for work, dining, fun, and hosting friends.
In these new smaller spaces, there will be less room for furniture. A stool, for example, may become the most ubiquitous piece of furniture because it can be used as a bedside table, an end table, a seat, a step ladder, and more and can be stacked to save space.
Storage needs are changing too. Music, movies and books, which used to require lots of storage, are now mostly digital and people don't need physical space for those items anymore. Engman predicts that in the future, people will want to display their collections as evidence of who they are, so opens shelves and glass cabinets will be much more popular than closed systems.
Furniture will be smarter in the future as well, with appliances that have lots of additional electronic features and lamps that do double-duty as chargers for our cell phones.
3-D and 4-D printers will help make furniture as flat as possible, decreasing shipping costs. Those cost savings can then be passed onto consumers. Personalization will also become more important and new innovations could perhaps make it cheaper to mass produce.
Finally, Engman thinks that furniture will become more tactile and interesting to touch with the use of unusual fabrics and shapes.