The Decade Ahead: Design in 2020 and Beyond

We tapped our network of 1300 interdisciplinary design professionals to offer predictions for the trends and challenges that the design industry will face in the decade ahead. A firmwide discussion yielded major disruptors likely to impact design in the 2020s, including rapid advances in technology, social change creating tension, the climate crisis and increasing urbanization changing our cities.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue publishing more ideas about our vision for the next decade. Be sure to check back to learn more about our thoughts on what it will take to Design a Better Future in the 2020s. 

SmithGroup Design in the 2020s Forecast

Forecast for Design

We have seen many changes in the world of design since our founding in the 1800s. As we enter a new decade, we forecast expected changes for our industry and profession for the next ten years that will have broad impact on our communities and society. 

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AEC Technology Design trends 2020 SmithGroup

Design & Technology

While the tools we use to do our work have always been evolving, new technologies are advancing the design process at an accelerating rate. We look at the impacts of big data, IoT, advancing visualization tools, AI and automation on design processes and what we believe it will mean for our clients.

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SmithGroup Design in the 2020s Climate

Design & Climate

The climate crisis cannot be ignored, and large-scale changes will be needed in the next decade to address mitigation and adaptation. We predict that the design and construction industries will have an important role in addressing the emergency, lobbying and leading for change.

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SmithGroup Design in the 2020s Cities

Design & Cities

Our cities are challenged with rising populations, increasingly disruptive technologies, environmental impacts from the climate emergency, and deteriorating infrastructure. We foresee adoption of adaptive and resilient strategies on all scales to allow cities to grow and thrive into the future.

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AEC Social Design trends 2020 SmithGroup

Design & Social Change

We will challenge systemic inequalities and prejudices within ourselves, our industry and our communities to create a more just and inclusive society. Designers will grapple with how our work promotes or obstructs equity, and we will institutionalize broader, more impactful programs to build a more diverse pipeline of future designers.

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Design & Health in the 2020s - SmithGroup

Design & Health

Design of healthcare environments in the next decade will respond to trending influences from how to address climate change, to the impact of equitable access to healthcare, increasing consumer expectations, improving the wellbeing of healthcare professionals, and rapid advances in virtual care, robotics, AI, genomics and personalized medicine.

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