STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Giving consumers a sneak peek at the products that could influence the way we interact with our homes in the future, IKEA’s third annual Life At Home report highlights the connection between home life and psychological wellbeing.
Looking beyond the physical space, the report which uses data from 12,000 interviews, as well as footage from time-lapse cameras installed in a selection of homes, identifies a number of key wellness trends emerging in relation to the way people use their homes.
“We are always curious about people’s lives. In a world that is constantly changing, it becomes increasingly important to understand more about new ways of living and what is important for people’s perception of a good life at home,” explained Mikael Ydholm, Research Manager at IKEA of Sweden.
“IKEA wants to be a catalyst for change by having an even better understanding of people’s emotional and personal attachment to their homes.”
Splitting the findings into four main facets, IKEA’s 2016 Life at Home Report examines areas including mindfulness, technology and sensory experiences. But above all, it recognises that as the world continues to evolve, so does our idea of what makes a home.
Read on to discover some of the key insights from the report:
Space and sensory experiences
According to the report, traditionally most homes have been designed to be functional, with little attention paid to sensory experiences. But making a home goes beyond the functionality and aesthetics of the spaces people live in and future products need to reflect this.
18% of participants in the study felt that their homes were too bright, while 40% of people said that their home had a distinct smell.
Specific smells, sounds and textures help people make sense of the world around them and have a strong impact on mood, emotion and even behaviour, so IKEA suggests that manufacturers should look closer at the role senses play when it comes to the home.
Not only to improve wellbeing, but perhaps also to find new and unexpected solutions to the challenges we face, IKEA says recognising the impact of sensory experiences might bring a new understanding of what a home is, and what it could be.
Moving forward perhaps IKEA will begin to think more about the properties of materials from a sensory viewpoint, as more objects are created to either enhance or decrease the senses.
Filled with books, tools, clothes, electronics and much more, IKEA says today’s homes and the things consumers surround themselves with help them to fulfil their basic human needs. But they also have a big impact on how homes feel, how consumers feel about their homes and how they create meaning in their life at home.
The things people own are inextricably linked to their emotions; drawers that won’t close, congested wardrobes and floors full of toys.
But while more than 20% of people worldwide buy something new for their home every week, smaller living spaces and environmental concerns bring a need for a new approach, so consumers are becoming more mindful of their things.
From buying less to organising things better, the report suggests consumers are moving away from valuing practical benefits to appreciating the emotional aspects of objects.
IKEA says this trend seems especially strong for Millennials who put higher value on emotional features, such as art and design and that the home is unique – while older people still want practical things to be in order.
However, regardless of age, a more mindful approach to our objects seems to be one way we reinvent our relation to things at home.
Additionally, the report highlights the experiences objects can create and how much value consumers place on this.
IKEA argues that in this new age of experience, the value of an object is not the result of an objective evaluation. Instead, the way consumers appreciate things seems to be connected, on a deeper level, to their personal needs and dreams of how they want to live their lives.
Almost half of the participants in IKEA’s study (48%) said that they think home is the place where they have their most important relationships.
But with the number of single person households growing, and as more people break away from the traditional family structures, how are these changes affecting the way people conduct relationships at home?
IKEA argues that homes need to change in order to suit new requirements that aren’t designed for one type of family dynamic.
For instance, in Shanghai 49% of people who took part in the study said it was more important to have good Wi-Fi than to have social spaces at home, in order to nurture relationships. A clear indication that technology has a major impact on our behaviours, needs and values when it comes to relationships at home.
While 25% of participants said they would choose to spend an hour alone if they had one to spare, as privacy becomes more and more important to a new generation that is constantly sharing.
Ultimately IKEA’s study found that the number of different relationships at home are growing, creating new needs and challenges. But what does this mean for the future and how will the home of the multi-connected resident be designed?
As living gets more crowded, IKEA says that people are turning to other alternatives to fulfil their needs as human beings. But how does that affect people’s view of home as a physical place?
According to the report, 38% of participants said they considered the neighbourhood in which they live to be an extension of their home, while 11% of Millennials felt more at home at work or in school than in their homes.
In response initiatives that try to create more social communities are being introduced in many parts of the world, as the building industry aims to build new solutions to create tighter bonds between residents and their neighbours.
IKEA says that as the notion of home becomes more fluid, the feelings and emotions associated with a home such as safeness, comfort, belonging and familiarity are beginning to be found in multiple places.
Needs, emotions and activities that until now have taken place within the home, are moving outside of it, extending the home in the process.
And as more neighbourhoods and cities offer people new places to kick back, relax and be themselves, manufacturers will need to focus on basic human needs as a way to reinvent what actually makes a home a home.