Salone del Mobile Milano

Trend research: InsideOut Home - Hybrid indoor/outdoor living

[How we live today] has to do with the blurring relationship between formal and informal life [...] It's blurring our public and private lives. We want workspaces that are also like play spaces or leisure spaces. We don't want them just to be formal, functional workspaces. These things are all contributing to a very different paradigm about how we want the things around us to perform. The beauty of design is it's always evolving and shifting. 

(David Adjaye, Architect)

The lifestyles and patterns of collaborative consumption that have taken hold at global level over the last few years amount to a very real anthropological revolution. Homes have also, almost “naturally”, taken on a central role, absorbing and interpreting within their walls the new sharing paradigm.

The domestic space has gone from being a private space to being a space increasingly invaded by the outside world, becoming the setting for new forms of socialisation and cultural and consumer experiences and practices that were formerly the “historic” preserve of public spaces.


The digital culture of the sharing economy has found in the domestic environment the ideal place in which to physically transpose their application: from sharing sofas (couchsurfing) to temporary accommodation in other people’s houses (Airbnb etc.) to “meal sharing”, in which people invite “strangers” to come and dine (social eating).

Apart from making the lines between our private and our public lives extremely fluid, these phenomena also require a rethinking of the spaces themselves, with flexibility and versatility paramount.

In today’s socio-cultural world, the habitative space and the workspace are frequently one and the same, and many freelancers working in the digital and creative fields design their homes as “open” spaces in which they can both live and work. 


The Russian designer Anna Erman lives in the country with her family and has bought and renovated a flat in Moscow’s Stary Arbat, not just as a foothold in the city but especially to help build relationships with her clients. The habitation was designed for dual use, public and private: the island unit in the kitchen can easily be turned into a desk or hold a buffet for twenty or so people. The entire project was conceived to fire the imaginations of her clients and others, by rehabilitating the fine existing structures and the ad hoc furnishings and decor created with an extremely personal touch.  

Like offices, other aspects of “outdoor” life creep between the domestic walls: from shopping to physical activity and entertainment and enjoying art, with apartment rooms turned into temporary exhibition spaces.

This shift from outdoors to indoors is happening in parallel to a shift in the opposite direction, with aesthetic and relational codes finding their way into public places. From retail – where more and more shops and restaurants are reworking their interiors to provide welcoming, intimate and informal experiences that are designed to make people “feel at home” – to workplaces themselves, which are evolving at an equal rate, intercepting and harnessing the changes taking place.


The Silicon Valley companies, along with flexible and “adaptive” organisational models, have contributed to the spread of a new office concept that puts people and their wellbeing first, creating “fluid”, unfettered environments, with dedicated areas for meditation - either singly or in groups - rest, sport, leisure and socialising, those activities that impact positively on motivation, creativity, productivity and problem solving. 


The California headquarters of fashion e-tailer Everlane was achieved by renovating an industrial building formerly used as a laundry. It physically and aesthetically interprets the values of openness and transparency that embody the company’s business model. The space between the showroom area and the office areas unfolds “liquidly”, the dominant white tones offset by the muted colours, seen in the cushions arranged on the sofas that alternate with the workstations, and the wooden tops of the desks and the large kitchen island.

Appropriating the airy and relaxed atmosphere of a loft, the office becomes a nice place to be, imbuing the time spent there with a completely different quality, which has a huge impact on people’s work-life balance.

This macro-trend generates two interesting tangible results, the Shared Experience and the Design Multitasking micro-trends.