10 trends to watch in 2022: Novel travel experiences, comfy dressing and plant-based food

The Straits Times spotlights the top lifestyle, entertainment and dining trends to look out for - from homely, high-tech office spaces to novel travel experiences and plant-based food options.

1. Staying home to work

Work from home is no longer the default, but offices are unlikely to fill up even when pandemic restrictions are fully lifted, experts say.

More employers are accepting that their staff still want the option of working remotely rather than going into the office every day.

Hybrid work is the future even for front-line roles and jobs in manufacturing, which usually require work to be done on-site, according to the recent ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey conducted by workforce solutions company ManpowerGroup.


2. Homely, high-tech, flexible office spaces

When employees return to the workplace after being ensconced in cosy home offices for almost two years, the old tatty, standard-issue office layouts will not be a welcome sight.

Companies that have redesigned their workplaces to pivot to employee experience (EX) will be in a better position to help staff alleviate post-pandemic work stress and increase employee engagement, say designers and consultants.

According to Mr Arsh Chaudhry, chief executive of Singapore-based interior design firm Space Matrix, EX is all about designing for human health and well-being. Although not a new concept, it has gained prominence since the Covid-19 pandemic hit.


3. Dressing up in comfort chic

Say goodbye to loungewear and hello to Business Comfort.

After a year of living in sweats and stylish pyjamas, shoppers are getting tired of the frumpiness and ready to break out their fancier apparel once more.

Despite temporary setbacks in the easing of restrictions due to the spread of the Omicron variant, market insights from the past year show that consumers are hungry to dress up.


4. New experiences and no-regrets travel

The globetrotter's desire to seek new experiences in 2022 is stoked by two glum years of staying home.

Dining in the world's first undersea restaurant in the Maldives, skydiving in Melbourne or night trekking on volcanic Mount Merapi in Indonesia - such "sensation seeking" is a supertrend powered by people beginning to explore the world again.

The novel experiences they sign up for can be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica or a bite-size event like learning to cook authentic Sri Lankan fish curry.


5. Slow pacers and slowmads are better versions of travellers

Meet the Slow Pacers - pandemic travellers who are ardent about wellness and safety. Their close cousins would be Slowmads - a new wave of digital nomads who stay put in one destination to work and play.

Slow travel has been idealised for years, but the lingering global pandemic is enhancing its appeal while engendering new variants of slow and careful wanderers.

Global trend forecaster WGSN identified the Slow Pacer, along with other new pandemic-forged personas like the Mindful Explorer, in its Understanding The New Traveller report last September.


6. Big and small screen highlights

The list ought to be longer than this.

In the coming months, Oscar contenders - the dramas Nightmare Alley, Licorice Pizza and Parallel Mothers - will open in cinemas. Also opening in cinemas are sequels to action blockbusters, including Jurassic World: Dominion, Thor: Love And Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

On Netflix, there will be the miniseries Inventing Anna, telling the true story of Anna Delvey, the woman who tricked the New York elite into believing that she was one of them.


7. More live gigs lined up

Good news for music fans - more live concerts beckon in 2022.

While it might not be realistic to expect the large-scale music festivals that have resumed in the United States and Europe, there is still reason to cheer.

Live Nation Singapore plans to stage a concert by Taiwanese pop rockers Mayday at the National Stadium in December. The concert, originally scheduled to take place in August 2020, was postponed thrice.


8. Greater inclusivity at the Esplanade

A spanking new 600-seat flexible theatre, a refreshed waterfront with six new kiosks and a more consciously inclusive approach to programming.

These are just some of the things Singaporeans can look forward to at Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay this year as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

When the Singtel Waterfront Theatre opens in October, the arts centre's birthday month, it will be "a partial realisation of a promise to Singapore artists", as chief executive Yvonne Tham notes.


9. Plant-based options grow

Walk into Tim Ho Wan, the dim sum chain, and you can order steamed Teochew dumplings filled with Impossible Pork.

At Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt, diners can order a Beyond burger with dairy-free cheese for lunch.

For Chinese New Year, Tien Court, a Chinese restaurant at Copthorne King's Hotel in Havelock Road, is offering Stir-fried Spicy Rice Vermicelli With Plant-based Minced Chicken, Stir-fried Plant-based Chicken Patty With Assorted Mushroom, and Thai-style Plant-based Minced Chicken With Basil Salad, made with Harvest Gourmet, an alt-meat from Nestle.


10. Farming in Singapore flourishes

The sight of bare supermarket shelves, as Singaporeans scrambled to load up on supplies before the circuit breaker in 2020, would have sent chills down many spines.

Although the mad buying was a temporary phenomenon, because supermarkets shelves were restocked swiftly, those few days of panic hoarding highlighted just how vulnerable Singapore can be.

Logistical problems or sabre rattling by food suppliers overseas can hold up the supply of food to a country which imports pretty much everything.


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