15 Unique Event Design & Decor Trends for 2021

As we prepare for the New Year’s Eve ball to drop every year, event planners, purchasers, and designers often have a good idea of what the next year will bring, as far as what to think about with decor and design, what trends in marketing may look like and other pieces of advice to mull over and we roll into Q1. As 2021 begins, the biggest trend across all lines must be flexibility in planning. Unfortunately, it’s still tough to tell what post-COVID events are going to look like one day to the next, and being prepared for anything is key. Also, social distancing still remains — however, you can take that health necessity and turn it into an aesthetic trend that works. Read on to learn about 15 unique trends for 2021 that can help your event stand out from the rest, whether it’s in-person, remote, or hybrid.

Mismatched Seating

This is one of those ideas where you can take the necessity of social distancing, slap an eclectic vibe on it, and run with it. Whether you’re at an indoor or outdoor event, remember, furniture doesn’t have to match in the slightest. You can match wicker with lecture, high-top tables with sofas — you can essentially do anything you like to bring it all together for the event. What would be a good suggestion is to try to match some of the mismatches with the decor so it’s not too chaotic. Also, keep in mind, renting event furniture allows you to play around with certain ideas, especially if it’s just for one event.

Outdoor-Only Venue Spaces

This may not be your number-one plan for your event in February, but if you’re teetering on the divide between winter and spring and the temperatures are in the 50s and 60s, you may want to rent space heaters and give it some consideration. This all depends on several factors. First, check the gathering guidelines in your city or state. Being outside may allow you to have more people. Second, stylish outdoor decor and rustic barn chic never really went out of style, so depending on your event, you can use this to your advantage.

Mood and Fairy Lights

It’s difficult to say that bright and bold and subtle and low are both in for 2021, but depending on the event, both can work. Even mood and fairly lighting can bring on a cheery, Christmassy type of feeling and party atmosphere even in the middle of July. So they’re always a consideration and an inexpensive one at that. If your event is a marketing product launch, you may not want mood lighting, but if it’s a cocktail party prelaunch and you want cheerful decor, don’t rule it out. 

Tech as Decor

This is where 2021 goes rogue a little bit and begins to look different from other years. Technology has always been “in,” with VR and other types of new tech gadgets being premiered at events, but you may see new types of technology if you attend in-person events in 2021. Expect virtual reality to still be part of some events, depending on your industry; but also expect to see safe, contactless technology and kiosks that improve and expedite your check-in experience. Instead of checking in with a person, you may have a personal QR code. If marketed correctly, expect these types of kiosks not only to provide safe interaction but also to be part of the aesthetics.

Sustainable Designs

This was an up-and-coming trend before the pandemic and continues to be one. Depending on the type of event, you may see furniture made from bioplastics as well as those made from recycled materials. Often, sustainable design can partner with another occasional trend, industrial and minimalist design, but it doesn’t have to be. You can also partner with companies that are sustainable in nature, like those that rent event furniture or office furniture, which reduces the carbon footprint by recycling.

Floral Focus

This is one trend that never completely falls out of favor. In 2021, instead of looking for muted colors or neutrals, liven everything up with brightly-colored florals and cheerful decor. When it comes to design for 2021, think of it as everything 2020 wasn’t if you’re ever in doubt: cheerful and bright. 

Open-Space Concepts

This is a concept that is trending currently in offices to help promote health and safety, but it’s also a winning concept when it comes to your event space. If you’ve chosen an event space with high ceilings and perhaps exposed pipe, you can opt for industrial styles and eclectic, stylish decor. These types of open spaces offer you the opportunity for natural social distancing, providing you’re following guidelines for occupancy. So make sure to space furniture and seating out and have clear instructions on floors for standing six feet apart.

Statement Pieces

Everything about 2021 is bold, and feel free to add flare from bold statuettes to sophisticated artwork. These are things you can rent as well for your event — keep in mind you can rent more than furniture. Also, remember that larger statues or pieces of artwork can act as natural social barriers if placed appropriately. 

Bright, Bold Decor 

If the flowers and accents are bold, so is the heart of the decor. Trends in cheerful decor have us shaking 2020 off. Opt for bright tablecloths, window sashes, centerpieces, and more, and don’t be afraid to mix and match colors to make the room bright and joyful.

Decorate for the Hybrid Event

One thing we certainly weren’t thinking about in 2020 was how to decorate for a hybrid event, but now it’s something to keep in mind. Remember that hybrid events still require a venue, and choose carefully, making sure that where you’re presenting from can still be seen and seen well to your viewers at home. Just like for in-person events, you want to choose bold pieces so they’re visible, but not too overpowering so that they don’t detract from your presentations. For a virtual-only event, you don’t need to worry about decorations as much, but you may want to take a quick course on how to make great Zoom backgrounds.

Natural Elements

Natural elements were a trend through 2020 (especially as everyone moved outdoors) and they will continue to be through 2021; however, these are also a trend if you bring them indoors as well. You can use topiaries as dividers for your indoor event, or large plants to help divide up the space. You can also add little touches throughout the room in lieu of large floral arrangements by adding topiaries and textures instead of large centerpieces. Move away from artificial plants.

Go Big on Decorations

With a smaller guest list, it’s a good time to go big on decorations, not because you’re trying to show off, but because you’re trying to fill up the room. Smaller attendances (even if they’re mandatory) can just feel awkward, so filling the space can make it seem a little more intimate while keeping your guests socially distanced. Ideas like chandeliers can make the room feel more intimate, but you can also pick room dividers, mirrors, wall art, and more.

Health and Wellness Stations

At this point, everyone’s well aware of health and wellness stations. For everyone’s safety, you should probably have a temperature check upon entry. A more high-tech way to do this is to have contactless scanners. Have many hand sanitizer stations throughout the event — but they don’t have to be generic and boring. Add a touch of florals, or say something about your company, or offer a take-home sanitizer. There are ways to have these stations seem not so regimented.

Lounge Areas

Every event should still have a lounge area, but again, we’re going back to those ideas of comfortable seating but socially distanced and safe seating. Think about lounge chairs that seat one (or two, if a couple comes together), and keep it a relaxing area — just try to make sure it’s not an area that invites too much congregation. You want to keep your guests safe, especially if there is alcohol being served. 

High Top Tables and Tech

Another way to help keep guests safe (and to wow them with your tech-savvy) is to have a touch menu at high-top tables where they can order and pay for drinks without speaking to a bartender. The bartender will bring the drinks, but then that is the only contact. This is how many airports are handling alcohol service and COVID-19, and it satisfies several things. It provides your guests a socially distant seat, provides them with bar access, and hopefully impresses them with how well you’re keeping up with event planning during the pandemic.

No matter what type of event you’re planning, CORT Events can help. Whether you need rental furniture, social distancing dividers, or a personal touch to help realize your vision, our team of professionals can help your event stand out from the rest.