Surfing For 2021 Trends In Tech, Home, Fashion, And Food

John Maeda
4 min readDec 31, 2020
Hello, world! (2021) John Maeda

It’s never easy to figure out what will happen in a new year, but according to what Google’s incognito mode says to me when I search “trends for 2021,” I need to care about tech trends, home decor trends, fashion trends, and food trends to start.

Since Google seems to know everything, I took that initial prompt to lightly dive into these four areas that are of interest to me. I hope they’re of interest to you, and do keep in mind that I’ve editorialized what I’ve read online — so I may have gotten the trend wrong. So trend-grab wisely :+).


Fast Company gathered expert opinions that cover a broad range that I summarize as follows:

  • Safe convening technologies to regain physical intimacy after the vaccine happens.
  • “3+2” hybrid work week: 3 Work From Work (WFW) days + 2 WFH.
  • Like the disruptive commercial force of the iPhone, C-19’s impact will be lasting.
  • New hardware/software combos that bring unprecedented co-presence experiences.
  • Greater data usage will elevate the importance of data privacy/sharing transparency.
  • January 28 “Data Privacy Day” will have new presence and significance in our lives.
  • New B2B and B2C digital touchpoints have made AI/ML more flush and powerful.
  • Online learning will only get better with the move from textbooks to e-courses.
  • Video care platforms with intelligent orchestration will route patients to the right care.
  • Healthcare providers will use texting to stay in touch with their patients’ health journeys.
  • Contactless payments and QR code behaviors (like in China) will become the norm.
  • Unique, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will ground the digital world’s asset structure.
  • Browsability and discovery experiences will give way to more chat experiences.
  • Climate change’s impact will become more obvious thanks to AI/ML capabilities.
  • With public transportation hit, private transportation tech like scooters/bikes will grow.


Architectural Digest gathered home renovation trends that mate well with the WSJ home decor trends list as my quick summary here:

  • Family room makeovers are out (we’re tired of each other) and recreational rooms are in.
  • WFH “sanctuaries” are all the rage with sound insulation and calming colors.
  • Multigenerational households are growing ADU (Accessory Dwelling Units) popularity.
  • Open-air showers that make the outdoors feel like part of your indoors world.
  • Comfortable fabrics that are exceptionally sensual like velvet, mohair, or bouclé.
  • Modern cabinetry where “how it was made” isn’t obvious (think Japanese carpentry).
  • Farmhouses are out and “dusky rooms” are in that bring darker moodiness.
  • Bathroom oases as places to escape and get alone time and aromatherapy moments.


Who What Wear shares their top trends, and also the staple Harper’s Bazaar, and I summarize that below:

  • Loungewear as an elevated category. What you wear below the Zoom line don’t matter.
  • Sweater vests because they’re comfortable and distinctive when socially distanced.
  • Bold shoulders are coming back into fashion; above the Zoom line is big.
  • Sustainability is trending as a strong narrative to chat about with what you wear.
  • Heritage crochet is bringing a softer materiality in an age when sensuality is tempered.
  • Voluminous wear to make you feel extra big within a Hollywood Squares grid.
  • Statements of embracing nature that make you look like you’ve gone hiking or fishing.
  • Patchwork cable knit cardigans help to make you stand out in a sea of plain color.
  • Slippers all day that are comfortable and distinctive — primarily for you to look at.


Real Simple gives their top foodie trends that I summarize here:

  • Cocktails that are healthy, alcohol-free, and low-calorie to dry oneself out a little
  • Comfort food is in and more important than some rare truffle or the likes.
  • Going waste-free with more seasonality expressed in menus will matter.
  • Immune health and nutrition will come into the foreground as vital.
  • New spices will get introduced because of home pantries that became re-runs.
  • Ghost kitchens, ghost food halls, and touchless service — think OEM of food.
  • Nostalgia “pre-lockdown” environments to remember the way things were.
  • Health and safety as a new “sexy” attribute for a restaurant or dining area.
  • Fair treatment and accountability for staff; equitability in the food industry.
  • Shipping containers to facilitate easy outdoor dining (and storage).
  • Hybrid restaurant models and bar quality “canned cocktails” are coming.

Okay! I hope that gives you a little to get excited about in 2021. It certainly worked for me. — JM

The key image is available on GIPHY if that’s your kind of thing.




John Maeda

John Maeda: Technologist and product experience leader that bridges business, engineering, design via working inclusively. Currently VP Design and A.I. at MSFT.