Design Trends and our 2021 Look Book

March 2, 2021

2021 Trends

Knowing that if we even mention the word ‘COVID’ you’ll probably keel over and curl into the foetal position... it has to be said that the Pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. And it has played an enormous part in the design trends we’re seeing right now. Fashion has been the mirror of the society it dresses and decorates since forever.

 Melanie Ewing, our favourite design diva who runs Chapters Interiors, Zoomed with us to unpack some of what’s in store for South Africa this year based on international and local trends. Tune in here: ( ). Then top up your cuppa or pour yourself a little something something (make ours a prosecco, please), and take a read through our 2021 Look Book, which puts Melanie’s predictions together with our products. We’ve got some cracking ideas on how to bring the great 2021 looks to life with our on-trend, luxury style.


The Pantone Colour/s of the Year. This year sees not one, but two colours: grey and yellow. Interestingly enough, this is only the second time in Pantone history that two colours have headlined, and the first time that grey has made the cut. Grey is the dependable and trustworthy friend we can lean in to. And yellow is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is hope. We are seeing bursts of various yellows in soft furnishings, fabric, paint shades. May we gently nudge you away from making any large investment in the Pantone yellow... it is a passing phase, to be celebrated in inexpensive ways, with small touches. Think scatter cushions, throws and towels.

With any luck, grey is already in your colour palette, so snaps to you! Wait, what? It’s not? Meet our latest eco-chic screed-look tiles designed to elevate your minimalist mood. The Avenue range is made right here in the R of SA using sustainable tech to create the thinnest, strongest, greenest tiles. You can uView them right here:

Avenue Range

If screed isn’t a need for you, perhaps our muscular, grey, stone-look tiles will tempt you? Klif, for example. Atlas Concorde’s mighty slabs that pay homage to Italy’s uniquely varianced mountain stone:

Stone and screed remain forever on-trend, so either way, you are investing in a timelessly trendy look.

The Growing of Grey. Speaking of grey, can we have a minute’s silence in appreciation of its many shades? It’s the neutral that does so much and continues to make itself relevant to every colour palette. This year, you’re going to see a greener grey emerging: a refreshing shade, that plays so well with white, beige and blue décor.

COVID Colours. Because we’ve spent so much time at home, our passion for nature has really surfaced in a big way and reignited our love of richer tones for warmth. Deep jewel colours like citrons, emeralds, rubies are always in and out of the world trend books, but this year they have an earthier touch: saffron, magenta, aubergine and plum. Ocean tones are also big: welcoming greens, aquas, azures, the deep blues and celadons. And our personal favourite, teal, is taking top billing. Take a look at our darling little Micro Mosaic Enviro Glass sheets in teal:

The Rise of The Bidet. Oh, remember the beginning of COVID? When all we worried about was filling our trolleys with toilet rolls? LOL. Well, as it turns out, hygiene and sanitation became a bigger story than toilet paper... and worldwide, Bidet manufacturers noted a massive surge in enquiries. As it happens, toilet paper is not as green as we all thought. It means the endless chopping down of trees.  Bidets use very little water, thanks to cutting edge 21st century tech. So, in fact, they have become a sustainable and extremely hygienic option. 

Italtile offers bidets for every pocket and preference. There’s extra-ordinary AI bathroom tech with the Laufen Navia (a futuristic combo toilet-bidet, just perfect for your little holiday home on Mars!). Then, staying with Laufen’s Swiss perfection and hygiene, check out their mid-range Pro White Wall Hung Bidet... or the budget-friendly Thai-designed Cotto Tetragon Wall Hung Bidet. All featured here:

The Healthier Home. Washing hands, sanitising, keeping germs at bay, these have all become table stakes in the fight against contagion. Now that we’re shopping online and getting courier deliveries, there is an increased concern for the hygiene chain when many hands have touched a delivery. Parcels are being left outside the door. But this means a rise in theft. Architects are being asked to design anti-viral delivery areas where parcels can be dropped into a locked area with a built-in recycling unit. That’s smart thinking! 

Remember, porcelain tiles are so much easier to keep clean and disinfected than carpeting, and have become the surface of choice in the fight against home contagion. 

Smart new no-touch solutions are foot operated and electronic taps, particularly in commercial environments. Read more here about our Idral water wellness solutions: 

Bringing the Outdoors Indoors. Nature remains an abiding trend, but it revved up in 2020 and has become one of the most powerful themes in 2021. Last year’s hard lockdown gave the natural trend headwind as we longed for outdoors, greenery and nature. This year, the human-nature connection is stronger than ever. Think vertical gardens, indoor ponds, pot plants. Nature motifs, outsize botanical wallpaper. Leafy fabrics. Natural and organic materials. Jute, linen, cashmere, cotton. All designed to keep us in touch with the world beyond the suburbs. Oh, and wood, wood, wood, wood in all its wonderfulness. 

Take a walk into our incredible woods. (Spoiler alert. It’s quite a long walk, so let’s just mention some highlights.) The epic-sized, honeyed tones of Barkwood Natural Matt Glazed Porcelain Tiles. The recycled, reclaimed, pre-loved look of ColourArt Bone Matt Glazed Porcelain Tiles. The exotic wood and marble fusions of Intarsi. The budget-friendly options of Moda Vinile. The wood look will NEVER go out of fashion. NEVER. EVER. Not on our watch! And our enormous portfolio of ‘timber’ is testament to our deep and abiding respect for this most magical and transformational of all décor elements.

Moda 1

Footnote: Light wood looks with a raw unfinished, untreated look - for floors, walls, ceilings - are huge this year. Rock that unfinished, ashy Nordic timber vibe with Maryland Gris Matt Glazed Porcelain Tiles.

Sustainable Design. You hear this phrase a lot, along with ‘green’, and ‘eco-chic’. No longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have in 2021. We should all be asking the hard questions. Where does this product come from? And where will it go to? Second life, long life. Recyclable life. The sustainable journey needs to be more than a lick of greenwash. Demand for better business journeys needs to drive supply. Read about our ongoing LiveGreen story and how it interweaves with the toward-zero carbon journeys of our partners – local EcoTec pioneers Ceramic Industries, the class-leading sustainable manufacturing processes of Sant’Agostino, Atlas Concorde and Cotto. Footnote here: New bioplastics materials, reused materials and low impact for the environment will continue to be growing design trends. 

Deeper Blue. Pantone’s 2020 Dependable Anti Anxiety Blue kept us centred, but blue has gone deeper and darker into a naval tone and we couldn’t be happier. It’s elegant and it’s velvety and it will sing deliciously on your kitchen cabinetry or upholstery. Add mellow marbles, touches of gilded edges or brass, and you’re straight fire.

The Statement Piece. It’s going to be huge. Something incredible to design your room around. It can be as monumental as a piece of sculpture. As zen as an indoor pond. Or as small as our moody, minimalist, ebony-hearted Matt Black Program 1 Taps.

The Hybrid Home. Even when we reach immunity level in this Pandemic version of Jumanji, our homes will never be the same again. They have become multi-generational, multi-activity areas. And we believe that’s what homes should be: living, working, playing, eating, praying, growing spaces for the tribe. And in those omni-functional homes of ours, we are looking to find individual spaces. The dining room has become an office. The spare room has become a craft room. The patio is the gym. The kitchen is a classroom. The garden is for meditation. Our great South African open plan living is fast becoming broken plan, screened off or divvied up into spaces with their own special functions. Self-isolation and privacy is on the rise. The Cloffice – a closet-turned-work desk – has become a thing. We’re also seeing the rise of tiny home offices in the garden... some of which are trendy, minimalist container conversions. 

De-centralising. Now that we’ve all proved we can work without going to work, there is an uptick in semigration to coastal and rural towns for the perfect WFH space. As long as there’s good WiFi, or a fully loaded MiFi router, you’re good to go, whether you’re in Napier, Knysna, Plett or Paternoster. 

Bye Bye. We’re happy to see the back of the pristine, goody-goody, all-white interior (now softening into layered white and natural tones with pops of pattern), the grey kitchen (now turning into the navy kitchen), mid-century modern furniture (that funky ‘Mad Men’ look that took way too much effort to curate and master), and good riddance to matching furniture sets.

Footnote: While flat white is on its way out, we don’t recommend you turf your sparkling white tile dreams. Not at all. Create a dramatic backdrop with our Polar White Gloss White Bodied Ceramic Tile - 300 x 600 - then break it up with pattern from our vast and always-on-trend Patchwork Collection. Go classic with Black and White Patchwork. Add intricately patterned wood and marble intrigue with Intarsi. Or what about the joy and delight of our little Mosaic miracles?


Tile Trends. We have noted the rise in appreciation of the matt tile: more modern than that 90’s gloss, with its crisp lines. Neutral, light tiles are a big thing. Wood continues to rock its own category in all its wonder-filled ways. Geometrics of all shapes and descriptions are massive. Hexagon mosaic tiles are really rising to the occasion! 

Take a look at our nifty Milan or Ashwood Hexagonal Inkjet Enviro-Glass Mosaics. Diamonds do it, too, in the shape of our Cullinan Teal Matt Enviro-Glass Mosaics. Textured, painted - what we call ‘curated’ - finishes are going to be big.

Check out Sole Mix Luc - our take on hand-painted, patterned majolica-style tiles - designed to satisfy your Mediterranean travel urges until we can fly again! Talking of texture, the terrazzo look is still very in. One of our favourite trends, it has been picked up lovingly by the design fraternity and played with, across fabrics, accessories, artwork, you name it. NewDeco is Ceramica Sant’Agostino’s modern interpretation of this ancient Venetian technique: breathtaking, with its dazzling ‘fire’ of flecks and fragments, representing granite and marble chips trapped in cement. 


XXL Marbles are back in again (but did they ever really leave?) and they’re more monumental and softer-hued than ever. Our imported Angelo Straturio is an elegantly ‘veined’ glazed porcelain 800 x 1600 tile, while Roman Silver - also imported, also 600 x 1600 - offers a more varianced, silvery, almost travertine-style finish.

Footnote: Our trend hunters predict a 3m x 3m marble slab in the not too distant future. Gasp.

Subways Are Staying and Slaying. Every time we research trends, we hear that Subways are on their way out. But we take a look around us, locally and internationally, and see that Subways are NEVER on their way out. And in 2021, they’re as popular as ever; as Melanie Ewing says, “the Subway is the eternal child of tiles”. What is changing, though, is how we use them. We’re seeing pizazzed up Subways. Different shapes (longer or miniature), different funky colours and surface types (cementitious, or marble), and more imaginative ways of laying them... with herringbone patterns, brick format, verticals, you name it.

Find Your Fab. Our much awaited annual promo is in full swing, with up to 40% off our signature luxe style. Now’s the time to claim the local and international luxury pieces you’ve been eyeing – tiles, mosaics, taps, sanware and more – bring the world’s trends home, and live beautifully. Shop the promo here:


Flex Appeal. The awesome thing about trends is they are open to interpretation: rock them your way. Mix and match them, select a tone of a trending colour that appeals to you. We can’t wait for you to visit your nearest showroom - or hop online - and chat to us about how the 2021 trends and our deluxe products can work together to enhance your unique style. 

All our consultants are interior design certified (thanks to Melanie Ewing’s Chapters Academy). So bring us your questions. Bring us your design headaches. Bring us your mood boards and décor dreams for your 2021 reno. Let’s get you marching confidently towards total mastery of 2021’s top trends.