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2018 trends that will seem the strangest in 20 years

From expensive construction to virtual assistants

San Francisco Battles New Electric Scooter Rentals Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Will the world one day laugh athleisure trend, when we started wearing workout attire to formal events? Will people double over remembering an age when Michelin-starred restaurants forced us to sit at communal tables? Or will we giggle thinking about an era when we used primitive smartphones instead of subdermal implants that Apple is probably 18 months away from marketing?

What trends and designs that are popular now might seem bizarre 20 years from now in 2038? We asked a group of local experts and local notables to weigh in on what will seem strange in a couple of decades. Here’s what they had to say.


Kim-Mai Cutler (partner, Initialized Capital):

“I think land-use is going to have to wise-up to the realities of climate change, STAT. Does that mean better building codes for fire? Or does that mean places that are definitely off-limits to expansion because of fire risk? I don’t know. Probably a combination of both.”

Allison Arieff (columnist, New York Times):

“I hope it takes less than 20 years for everyone to realize that ‘smart’ homes aren’t smart and that Alexa is neither helpful nor is she your friend.”

Mike Chino (senior editor, Dwell):

“Electric scooters will seem trite when we have real hoverboards.”

Anne Fougeron (architect and founder, Fougeron Architecture):

“Cheaper construction! Impossible to build anything with these crazy prices. And windows that line up.”

Brian Wiedenmeier (executive director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition):

“People driving alone to work.”

Beth Spotswood (digital editor, Alta Magazine; columnist, San Francisco Chronicle):

“Hopefully, in 20 years, spending more than 50 percent of one’s income on housing will seem bizarre.”

Jon de la Cruz (interior architecture and design, DLC-ID):

“USB ports integrated into wall outlets.”

Mike Isaac (technology reporter, New York Times):

“Perhaps someone will look back on the giant Salesforce phallus penetrating the San Francisco skyline as a bad architectural decision—I certainly hope so. The thing is ugly as sin.”

Laura Foote (executive director, YIMBY Action):

“Am I allowed to say Prop. 13?”

Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties):

“Urban farmhouse decor. We do not have many farms inside San Francisco proper that necessitate us needing to store the fall harvest’s bounty. So why did we need all those farmhouse sinks, distressed wood countertops and irregular wall tile again? “

Joe Eskenazi (managing editor and columnist, Mission Local) and Julian Mark (reporter, Mission Local):

“How about YIMBY-backed politicians fighting against taxing wealthy corporations to fund thousands of units of housing. Or YIMBY-backed politicians fighting against doing away with mandatory minimum parking requirements. Or, depending on how things go, YIMBYs.

Or maybe it will be ‘Mission For All,’ a nonprofit group 100-percent funded by Maximus Real Estate, the would-be developers of the so-called Monster in the Mission. Earlier this year, the principal of Mission High School claimed one of their members called him up and impersonated a city Planning Commissioner. That was weird.”

Richie Nakano (restaurant consultant):

“I assume that in 20 years the entire state will be on fire and slipping into the ocean, so I guess id say that strangest trend will be us all throwing our hands up in the air and going ‘but what is to be done about these wildfires!?’ while we ride around in Ubers and Lyfts that commute here from Modesto and Sacramento everyday.”