A Trendy Design Post: Trend Design


Crystal ball gazing. (Google images 2018)

You may think that Trend Design is all about gazing into a crystal ball, or putting on floaty Kaftans whilst using mythical mend bending meditation tactics to realise trends of the future. However, Trend Design is much more than just the black art of marketing, it can offer the next trending colour or the ‘New Black…’ but it can also use data to make social comments. Trend design does entail a working input by social scientists and although it connects with commercialism e.g. keeping businesses ahead of the trend and competition, it can also offer more holistic lens on society, politics and ethics today.

Trend Design companies, act as trend radars for their clients. They scope, review and analyse future trends, sometimes offering trends for 5 – 10 years in advance. World Global Style Network (WGSN) assert that they “…obsessively decode the future to provide the authoritative view on tomorrow” (WGSN 2017).  Whilst a UK based company ‘Trend Bible’ state they look more locally examining “The way householders behave, respond to change, live and relax at home is always our start-point for creating trends that feel ‘real’.

They go on to state:

“ How we use technology, eat, engage, store, rest, bathe and find our own space in the home are key factors to creating commercially viable trend directions”. (Trend Bible 2018)

The following will offer a brief glimpse into some of the selected future trends (2019-2020) which have been scoped by some of the top Trend Designers in the market today.

Whether you are conscious of it or not you’re buying habits and behaviours are, in some way, influenced by fashion and trend. Behind the trend are Trend Designers who are busy mapping future trends and buying habits across the globe. As consumers we are influenced by culture, societal changes, technology changes, politics, seasonal aesthetics, social media, media communications, the arts… the list is endless. As such we hold particular resonances with particular aesthetics, social conscience, political stance, as we work our way through life.

Social paradigm shifts

Often Trend Designers begin with developing a narrative, extending a story which sets the background followed by observations gained from qualitative and quantitative data. The story could be about a social shift, a political event or a global economic climate change which could all impact consumers buying habits, or predicting ‘the what, where, and why’ of what trend comes next.

Whilst it may be entertaining viewing the latest Christmas craze 2018 (its unicorns and rainbows BTW), or looking to the catwalks to find out this seasons colours, as has previously been noted, Trend Designers often have more to offer than this. One of the 2018-2020 trends follows a ‘less is more’ approach initially shown as a furnishing and decorating trend. But it also connects to the debate about plastics, examining how consumers can be steered away from man-made materials towards recycled or slow design products. This trend also holds economical aspects, reflecting on the global economic states in the last few years. The ‘less is more’ concept entitled ‘Less but Better’ by Smart Shape (2018), explores how consumers can engage with a trend in a more ethical manner.

The trend of living with less, is widely accepted as a step towards working with the environment rather than against it. Consumers presented with oceans poisoned and choked by plastic debris, are now evaluating their consumer footprint in all areas of their lives. The second aspect of the Less but Better trend according to Smart Shape is frugal spending, as debts in the UK alone rise consumers are reacting by shopping well, for less money and reverting to more homespun approach. Smart Shape state “78% of millennials and 59% of baby boomers would prefer to spend money on experiences over stuff… “

They go on to say,

“… and when purchasing products, are favoring the purchase of a few higher quality items — ethical, sustainable, long-lasting and environmentally-friendly —over the accumulation of more low-quality and disposable items”. (Smart Shape 2018).

The internet and social media plays a part in this trend, as consumers are using the worldwide web to research the products or source of their products in greater detail and then feeding back to other consumers about their buying experience or the quality of their products. The 1950’s brand loyalty standards are now (2018) not upheld, Facebook report that only 37% of their users are ‘brand loyal’ which means that users are less predictable in their spending and buying has become more integral to ethics and impact from the global community. (Smart Shape 2018).

Trend outcomes:

Companies are looking to broaden their offering to include more user-led design development and reacting to the user-led concerns more readily. Companies are also tagging their brands with ethical or sourcing detail, clearly and cleanly adding ethical and environmental links.  Suppliers are looking at nostalgic, retro and renewing the old to bring down costs. They are reflecting on how to offer a saleable product for less to the end user, whilst still offering products with more consumer insight.

Service design has also reacted to the social trend for the ‘Less but Better’ or ways to reward users that will make a difference to their overall spending. All of this without forgetting due to the ‘celeb culture’ consumers wish to gain a sense of luxury and quality for less e.g. Airbnb, Rent the Runway, and Wework, all companies which sell up the consumers lifestyle for less. Through resources such as Thredup, and companies who offer consumers the chance to try-before-you-buy on luxury products. Users can now buy and sell and try products in news ways for less output. Added to this consumers are also able to connect with homespun maker trends, recycling or reusing products in new ways or adding value through crafting and embellishing products and then selling the products on e.g. Etsy, ebay.


Calming and Hygge

In recent years consumers have reacted to the modern day hectic lifestyle by turning back to the security of family, physical comfort, holistic experiences, and taking time out. Consumers are becoming more introspective, communicating their feelings and emotions transparently to others. They are embracing more lifestyle changes, exercise, meditation, and all things quiet and calm.

Hygge – a Danish term, taken to mean relishing time in comfort, time taken with family, enjoying food, generally being cosy, has been adopted by many people to enhance their feelings of well-being and returning to basic pleasures. Consumers of Hygge type products turn to cosy blankets, candle light and enjoying time spent with others ‘off grid’ e.g. playing board games, reading books, or cooking.

The implications of the Calming and Hygge trends are that consumers are realising commercialism and the hectic deadline driven society, can only offer so much to their lives. Some are reflecting on the quality of their lives and responding to this in more visible and impactful ways. Less attention is paid to the short term attention grabbing aspects of products and more attention to how the product can work in to their lives as a whole.

Trend Outcomes

Suppliers, designers and retailers are thinking about more than just the product and considering the types of emotions and reactions the product or service can give to the end user. End users are offered more choice but feel less pressure to enrich their lives with ‘stuff’, as they are returning to homespun, homemade products which they have fashioned or had made to their own specifications.

Closing thoughts

It appears that Trend Designers can offer more than just a fashion change or this year’s in-vogue ‘must-have’ item. Quite in contrast to this, Trend Designers can offer serious content e.g. user-led stories, consumer behaviours, and social commentary. This content can then be communicated back to society in order for consumers to learn and develop their understanding of their world either in a micro or macro existence. However, we as societal members or communities must keep a level perspective on the cycle of impact and a sense of realism to how the trend feeds are interpreted and think about who is telling the ‘story’ and what the story can offer to the individual or to a larger community.

In summary, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with buying into a craze or commercialised product, but I hope that the next time you hear or see ‘the next BIG LIFE-CHANGING trend’ which claims to give you the ultimate answer to elixir of life, or to change all aspects of your life for the better, consider the life cycle of the trend and think about the impact of the factors behind the trend, before you ‘buy-in’ to it.








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