Key themes, trends, challenges and opportunities that will transform the Smart Interiors sector

We’ve heard it time and time again, the future of interior design is in technology, sustainability, and 3D Printing. But aside from the introduction of smart-home products like Amazon’s Alexa, what’s holding back the next wave of transformative change?

The biggest transformation coming to architecture and interior design will be in the form of process innovation, not product innovation. The materials and the tools that make them – along with how the industry comes together to collaborate - is the first step. So here’s a look at the key themes, trends, challenges, and opportunities that will transform the smart interiors sector:

•  Strategic use of technology in material production
•  The timescale of tech-material adoption and the boom of the smart-glass market
•  Technology for building maintenance
•  Transforming how designers work and collaboration
•  Material optimization in building design

Answering an unmet need

Weft uses computer software to create woven, customized patterns. Weft director Bill Foulkes says: “It’s time to fundamentally rethink our industry. Our current processes are holding us back, and there’s a lot of innovation that can be unlocked. We as an industry are not using technology as strategically as other industries. There’s a great opportunity to unlock innovation by embracing technology. That’s where the future of our industry is going.” originally was published in Bellow Press.

Technology enables 3-D modeling of fabric for planning purposes. Photography by Kevin Zucker for Weft.
Technology enables 3-D modeling of fabric for planning purposes. Photography by Kevin Zucker for Weft.

Growth in the E-Glass Market

The E-Glass Market is having a boom, a key indicator on how changes in technological advancements are affecting the processes and materials used in the design.

“Smart windows are on the cusp of large-scale adoption,” says Amy Jiron, a technology deployment manager in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office. “New-construction building owners are very interested in that technology.”

"E Glass Fiber Yarn Market" Report released in October 2019 explains the global market is projected to display a robust growth represented by a CAGR of 10.35 % during 2018 – 2023.

Glass can be the biggest visible surface, besides the floor, in a building. Thanks to technology created in Finland in 1986, the glass surfaces can become a source of heat creation and retention.

Photography courtesy of Saint-Gobain Quantum Glass
Photography courtesy of Saint-Gobain Quantum Glass


“The heating surface of the glazing is low-emissivity glass: when stimulated by electrodes, the thin oxide coating over the inner face on the side of the vacuum (filled with Argon) radiates heat towards the opposite face. Depending on its composition, it can heat outward or inward and can melt snow, can prevent condensation, and constitute a source of heat itself. The power of E-GLAS® is controlled by different electrical features like thermostats or snow-detectors. The laminated version is often used for interior applications like glass separation-walls that heat on both sides and give comfort or replaces the main heating system.”

Key players in the E-Glass market include: Owens Corning, Jushi Group, PPG Industries, CPIC, Taishan Fiberglass (Sinoma), Advanced Glassfiber Yarns, Binani-3B, Johns Mansville, Nippon Electric Glass, Nittobo, Saint-Gobain Vetrotex, Taiwan Glass Group, Valmiera Glass Group, Sichuan Weibo New Material Group

Service providers for the “smart” era

“There’s a huge opportunity for architects to use the metadata they are collecting to their advantage, and not just by being able to control the temperature or lighting within a building,” as told by Matt Clementson, Global Portfolio Manager for Visualization Services at IBI Group to Foundry.com.

By linking data collection with augmented reality (AR) technology, architects may be the driving force behind a more efficient, technologically empowered form of building maintenance service.

He explained: “We’re looking at how maintenance professionals could be equipped with AR headsets that can instantly show where a problem lies within a building or a room. They’ll have all the data they need to complete a job, overlaid on the wall in front of them.”

Service providers for the “smart” era

Changing the way designers work

“Technology also enables Interior designers to capture and sort customers’ ideas – and data on the built environment – with greater accuracy and control. Digital measurement taking, quizzes and image banks can all help in formulating more accurate briefs, reducing risks of errors and wastage.

Technology also now enables interior designers to share, consult and collaborate from any location across the globe.” GlammFire fires are highly controllable and environmentally-sound bio-ethanol fires for the home.

Changing the way designers work
GlammFire fires are highly controllable and environmentally-sound, yet they still produce a perfect flame with all the aesthetic appeal and therapeutic value that brings. Image courtesy of smartfireuk.com

New techniques open new doors for traditional materials

New techniques can also bring us fresh perspectives on traditional materials such as wood, as Tom Svilans, an architect at the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) explains to Euronews earlier this year:

"We can make very complex, very large, very robust buildings out of laminated timber. The problem is that, because it a living, biological material, it has its own behaviors. When you bend it, it can spring back, or sometimes it bends back. So we need ways to keep track of all this. Because if you can't produce accurately what you want to, it becomes very difficult and very expensive very quickly. So by introducing 3D scanning into the process, we can have a closer connection to what the material is actually doing while we process it."

Innochain Exhibition 2019. Image source: Innochain.net
Innochain Exhibition 2019. Image source: Innochain.net

Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen, an architect at CITA and project coordinator at the Innochain exhibition, says that with newer knowledge, we can get more from our materials:

"Building smarter with fewer means of material optimization. (It means) that we are clever about how we use those materials; it means that we can build lighter. And lighter does not only mean fewer materials, like a smaller piece of wood but also lighter in forms of less transport, less weight and less impact on the environment. And these are just necessary paradigms for the future."

Learning to apply new technologies, and methods of integration will take time. But as the Middle East is at the forefront of innovation, particularly in real estate and technology, coupled with EXPO 2020 we can look forward to a fast embrace of these tactics in the region within construction within the next five years.

How will you be leading in developing technologies, utilizing them and creating sustainable environments? Send us your comments on social:

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