From the experts: A Reflection on Design in 2021

DESIGN STORIES   | December 17, 2021



Americans have been investing in their homes at a record pace. Spending more time at home has led to a desire for bigger and bolder home theater experiences.

And with that spending comes an increase in attention to detail. In other words, a more invested consumer means a more educated one.

When it comes to creating innovative, custom theater designs, Cinematech’s Director of Theater Design Stacey Chu & Senior Theater Designer Ashley Gathright agree that a more in-tune consumer had a hugely positive impact on the trends for 2021.

“People have a whole new appreciation about enjoying and appreciating their space,” Gathright says. “We’re seeing everything in a new light and, as a result, there’s so much great creativity.”

The duo reflected on some of the top design trends of 2021, all of which they see continuing in 2022 to some degree.

Backlit columns

A constant in 2021, according to Chu is backlit columns replacing sconces, fitting with a global trend of modern and contemporary styles in place of traditional ones.

Lighting, particularly indirect lighting and better incorporation of LED options, Gathright adds, has become a priority. But, the duo agrees, it’s driven by the desire for a clean & simple look.

Darker color schemes/tones

The renewed focus on light sources is coupled with a movement to darker color schemes and tones, which has always preferred for a proper theater setting.

“Prior years saw more gray tones, but now we’re more vibrant and less neutral colors come to the front – like blacks, browns and even some darker blues,” says Gathright.

Fiber-optic ceilings

Ceiling treatments are not new, but the impact they have on both lighting and acoustics have made them more of a must-have item in the past year.

“They obviously enhance the look, but they’re functional, too,” Chu says of fiber-optic ceilings. “It’s always made the space more immersive and unique, I think the additional popularity now is the ability to also incorporate better acoustics.”

More seating arrangements

One constant from year’s past that continues: Clients want seating that is both beautiful and functional, and motorized seating options (adjustable positions, headrests, etc.) have answered that call.

The pair is also quick to point out that clients are seeking a variety of seating, which makes the theater space more versatile. This includes, for example, a combination of dedicated sofa seating up front with a bar and bar stools in the back.

Bigger rooms

As the viewing experience has improved, so has the desire to use the space, so naturally, Gathright says, clients have devoted more square footage to their theater projects.

“Out is the man’s room, and in it’s place is something that everyone in the house can utilize,” she says.

“Definitely the theater is now becoming more a center of the house, an attraction,” addss Chu. “Rooms are being enjoyed and experienced by the whole family.”

Learn more about the Cinematech Design team and see what trends are on the horizon for 2022 at

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