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Our spaces are rapidly changing, and no one knows this better than Franklin Azzi, Maison & Objet’s 2020 Designer of the Year for its September edition. During a Zoom press conference, the French architect discussed his upcoming exhibition for the fall fair, which will focus on the evolution of office environments, and revealed what he thinks homes will look like post-COVID-19. His prediction? Less will be more.

“Everybody is talking about how technology will play a more prominent role in our spaces. That’s true, but 20 years from now I’d like to live somewhere that’s a little bit more minimalistic,” he shares. The designer, who is revered for his work in sustainability and large-scale refurbishments, expects fewer decorations and more white. “I don’t want it to be cold, like something out of a science-fiction movie, but it might not be so heavy [either],” he adds. In an ideal world, his house of the future has these three features: 

Hyper-Local Materials

Sourcing construction parts and labor nearby and repurposing what’s already on-site is one way we can all crack down on pollution, says Azzi. But working with what you’ve got doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on your vision. For instance, Amsterdam-based architect Chris Collaris once reincorporated a decaying home’s old wood roof into the new (colorful!) kitchen cabinet design. 

Natural Light Galore 

“Light is the main material for living,” says Azzi, so bring on the glass. When designing her home office/studio, Sarah Sherman Samuel installed 12-foot direct-glaze windows flush with the base of her desk. Now as she works, she can admire the tree groves. 

Aromatic Woods

Being surrounded by pleasant smells would make self-isolation a tad more enjoyable were we ever to go into another lockdown again, notes Azzi. First-growth redwood, a now-obsolete building material, has a rich aroma if you’re ever so lucky to come across a historic home that has it. Likewise, deodar cedar has a heady, woodsy scent, according to Luke Bartels, who used it for the doors and window frames in his San Francisco home to create a nostalgic feeling. A breath of fresh air is especially necessary when you’re stuck inside.

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