A common thought is that the word ‘’trend’’ is fashion based. What’s in and what’s out. Yes, fashion is trend based along with so much more. What you eat, how you live, shop and even behave. Some might have the anti attitude on trends, thinking that they won’t allow getting sucked in it. I’m sorry to break it to you - that’s not an option.
Trends are everywhere, moulding the way of living and society as we know it. It’s really important to us as a design agency to be aware and embrace trends with open arms, in order to produce relevant and sustainable products and services.
The question is how to handle trends, with them being a window to the future. What to do with them?
The following reading is inspired by our COO Johanna WS’s presentation called ‘’How to use trends and design to innovate and manage risk’’, which she held on this years Nordic Organic Food Fair at Malmömässan.
Trends don’t just appear. There’s always a story behind each trend you come across. Let’s have a look on how that story can appear, shall we?It all starts with something that’s called a ‘’fad’’. A fad is the seed that can grow bigger and bigger, or a fad can also be just that, a tiny trend with an expiration date. The fads are short and maintained only by collective behavior, culture and generation. A few good examples of fads are Pokemon Go, fashion and diets. The Pokemon Go game were super hot, one certainly can’t argue with that - but it only lasted shortly and was generation based. Fashion trends are also fast, being both born and dead in a jiffy. As surely as one tree does not make a forest - one fad does not move us greatly but many do, In size, after the fad come micro-trends.
A micro-trend compared to a fad, lasts much longer, even up to a few years, and the audience is wider - not only generation based. You can say that the micro-trend is the most active and diverse influential thing in the given sphere, meaning that it sets a strong base to build on. They are also hugely diverse as they actually are the solutions that directly address consumers wishes or issues. Take virtual Reality for an example. VR is now a leading technology in terms of the whole gaming industry, which at this time are a HUGE one. Stay tuned and read more about VR and its ongoing impact on the society in a coming article.
Many micro-trends adding up, leading us the same way, form the next level in the trend hierarchy - macro-trends. As you might have guessed, it is bigger and affects larger aspects than the last level, being pervasive and persistent on a global level. Big data, smart homes, machine learning and AI are examples of macro-trends. These trends have developed into a way of living and is something that won’t get out of fashion as we as people does not want to go back to how it was before. E.g. AI challenges our way of thinking and puts the future in a whole new perspective.
Finally. Mega-trends. As you may catch from the sound of it, it’s the biggest trends existing with an impact on the whole world.Global warming, urbanization, changing demographics and world political (re)order, comes to mind. All these important mega-trends, or truths, began as tiny fads only to grow bigger and bigger until they affected our way of voting in political elections, our environmental stand and even our world overview. As mentioned before - it’s impossible to avoid trends.
Let us take the example of the huge Artisan trend.Up to the year of 2012, so many fads had led up to a handful of micro-trends. Personalization, co-creation and slowness was in. One started to realize that the people who new specific crafts was getting to be fewer and fewer. We started to lack craftsmen! A growing awareness on the lack of resources was another bit to the puzzle and so was the environmental question - now more relevant than ever and it was time to take action. Combining this with events such as the industry dark side and the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Bangladesh the global audience opened their eyes and then; the artisan mega-trend was born.
The artisan trend is all about bringing back crafting and creating things on your own. The result is not handcrafted products in itself, but an inspiration of it. A touch of crafting in terms of visual expression and materials appeared in today’s mass produced products, making the artisan a trend to be reckoned with. Being a macro-trend, the artisan movement found its way into many spheres. Listing a few of them:
You may recognize the term ‘’Hipster’’. Being hipster was a result of the artisan movement, taking a step back both in pace and development, with focus on sustainability, health and environment. When almost a whole generation lives by this code, it’s bound to set things in motion. These faits sets the moral base of millions of people, affecting our way living, thinking and behaving - which makes it a Mega-trend.
When creating a product or service as a design consultant, knowing current trends takes you one step closer to what trends comes next. By knowing the expected trends you are in position of being able to prevent mistakes by taking informed decisions, in terms of the different aspects of all design. This enables an opportunity to catch the future users eye, minimizing the risks of an irrelevant service or product. Surely enough there is some bad trends out there that needs to be acknowledged. That’s one of the challenges to take on as a designer when consulting a client.
This is a good example of trends and design gone wrong:
What better way to tie the knot than giving you a product example of ours? Take a look at The Creative Icon of PFAFF, A.K.A the best in class-Monster. The top modern sewing machine won people’s hearts due to its combination of handcraft and technology. This products enables you taking a picture with your phone or camera, upload the picture and use it right away in your design. The combination of traditional handcrafting and new advanced technology spoke to a wide range of users, resulting in another award winning product of Zenit Design.
This reading has hopefully enlightened you in the importance of trends and how to deal with them in the most productive way. As mentioned earlier, trends are a big aspect in the design process due to its enormous impact on society. Two tricky parts to determine are whether the trend in question are suited for your type of product or how to use it in the best way to ensure a good end product or service. This is where we come in as designers having the position of the fly on the wall - looking outside in - making sure to use trends and design to innovate and manage risk.