Next Defining Style

With Core77 being the big Industrial Design site on the web I know that it attracts designers from the all over.

One thing I have wanted to know is what is next on the design stage. Like fashion week there are the design weeks and awards that highlight novel new concepts as well as things that are really out there. These are then filtered into things everyday people buy. I’m curious what design will be like for the normal Joe.

I saw an article that steampunk is the next big things Is Steampunk Next Big Fashion Trend? Victorian Sci-Fi Look Gains Fame Online | But I’m hesitant to believe it.

I’m curious to hear everyone’s opinions on where product design will go in the next five or so years? Steampunk? Dan Simon Plastic and Lights? Colors and Printed patterns? Wood panels? Hard or soft shapes?

As an enthusiast I’d love to hear what is next!

This article is now almost a year old and we haven’t seen much evidence that the “trend” is building. And like everything else, by the time a “new” trend becomes mainstream it’s dead, or dying; witness “shabby-chic”.

“Real” Steampunk is a one off, additive craft that requires search for unique materials. Mass production is impossible; viewed individually an article might appear unique, but as soon as two of them appear in the same room.

That said, “they” will make millions of dollars on it.

You shouldn’t be concerned with what’s coming “next.” You need to find what’s coming up after what’s coming “next.”

Graduating exhibitions might be a good place to look (Little design trend)

We are in a period of transition from Neo Minimalismo (Starting with the 2nd gen iMac) that slightly transitioned to Minimalist Glam (Beats headphones, Jambox, W hotel interiors, Virgin airlines interiors, gold iPhone) and is now moving to the Massification of Hipsterism (Steampunk inspired, overuse of the words genuine and authentic, “hand crafted”, cafe racers, Urban Outfitters, New Starbucks roll outs, Leica cameras…)… I think it will take a few product cycles to run through that, call it 2 years before it starts to transition to the next thing.

Part of the post-modern, post-internet reality is that there are no longer unified trends on nearly a scale as there once was.

Yo is right in calling out trends in consumer products but that’s really but a sliver of greater cultural and industrial output.

Subtle unibody Macbooks have very little in common aesthetically with Dyson vacuums and yet they influence the design world during roughly the same time period, both in hard goods, both at premium price points. Most lower-end consumer products are still swooshy white plastic thingies, seemingly stuck in the 90s.

You could say the “faceted” look is super-hot for the past few years, yet for every proposed building in that style, there’s a swishy Zaha Hadid clone. Then add generative, pattern-clad architecture on top of that.

Music is so scattered and diverse now, you could hear a completely different “sound” a hundred times a day.

It genuinely didn’t used to be like this. Output was slower and steadier. Possibilities were more limited, so people operated within constraints of that era’s styles and technologies. A trend emerged slowly, people caught on slowly, and then rode it out for a while. The scale is just so different lately that there’s no point in predicting what’s coming; either hitch onto a bit of everything and see where it takes you, or grind out the same thing forever and ride that sweet, sweet train of consistency.

I believe that (American) trends have a lot to do with new generations aging and becoming empowered to re-visit the trends of their youth with modern interpretations. As a recent example you can look to a resurgence of 80’s fashion, pop, video game culture translated as ironic by hipsters, but largely as an appreciation of aging Gen Xer’s. I interpret the irony as nobody in the 80’s would be caught dead actually trying to look like an 80’s geek/nerd/slob, but now it’s become cool (not really). I think that is also what influences the glam minimalism. In the 90’s that ironic style/design was drawn from the 70’s. In the 80’s there was a heavy 50’s pop culture influence from the Baby Boomer generation. Regardless I don’t think that it is solely about style, but also music, film, politics and TV that influences trends in design.

I think you can predict certain trends if you look at it this way. Steampunk is a sort of counter-culture of uniqueness and I don’t think that it will become mainstream, but certainly an influence. Based on my theory I believe the next generational influence will be drawn from the mid-90’s to early 2000’s, a mishmash of pre/post 911 culture with a heavier dose of irony than the 80’s hipster whatever you want to call it, but I predict the fashion will be more formal and “neat”. I recently read an article about George W. and his artwork becoming ironically hip…so there’s that indicator I suppose.

I think it depends on the industry too. I’ve been heavy into lighting, heating, plumbing (albeit largely for the Canadian market) for 10 years. The mainstream is essentially buying the same stuff. Very geometrically simple, not quite modernist. The finishes have moved. 15 years ago was silver paint, the last 5-8 years has been heavy in brushed metal finish and now chrome is coming back. Because of the standardization of these products, the form factor can’t evolve like in electronics.

However, there are great little attempts that seem to get some traction on the edges of these industries (see Core blog for examples). However, none of these have really gained mainstream traction.

It does seem like this is a global industrial design problem though. It feels like risky design just never trickles down the way it used to.

Admitedly though, maybe this is just my biased view of things being greener on the other side of the fence.

For me both of those aesthetic styles appeal to that “minimalist glam” thing, just different manifestations of the same cultural concept as everyone has a different idea.

As the trends come more rapidly (due to what is called a more "global culture, but really means a more connected industrial culture) the overlap is more extended, so there is less of a defined hard break. Geography becomes less relevant and it is more about social station (taste makers, early adopters, fast followers, everyone else).

One thing that is interesting to me is that there seems to be a slight collapse even of that concept. Every week there seems to be some new hipster styled shop in my area with hand made thick leather good and the like, yet simultaneously the big boxes and national/global retailers are riffing off of this wave with their own mass produced version of the trend. In the past there would be a 1-2 year lag on that type of thing.

No mention of IKEA, Samsung or Ford?..hmmmm? Are these brands dying in north america?

This discussion seems to be rooted in North American speculation on the recycling of nostalgia (i.e Greenman). When I left for Asia years ago, the steampunk and cafe racer trends were being birthed. Then the financial crisis hit and boom, over night everyone in the creative field was unemployed or in transition. In steps DIY, hackathons and the maker movement to fill the void (i.e. the crossover era and merging of design and IT).

This discussion seems to be focused on the next 25-35 year old demographic in North America and what they will want with their disposable income (i.e fashion, food and entertainment - i.e. hipster, Spotify and swooshy white plastic things et al). The speed part resonates with me. The rate at which tends can be conceived, designed and deployed has approached light speed (i.e pop up stores).

I’ve just returned from Hong Kong back to Seoul and have had confirmed for me that the explosion of micro brands and small entrepreneurial business models seems to be a likely suitor to the 3D printing trend coming out of the west. Yes the big box phenomena exists in Asia as well, but because of the high population numbers and densities, the big box is dwarfed by all of the small business activity of those trying to make a living. Samsung is now busy in their studios, trying very hard to be a “trend setter” rather than their less illustrious label of “fast follower”.

Do you guys see any design trend influence at all coming from Asia, over there? I’ve been away from north america too long now to read the tea leaves on the ground level. The internet is great, but represents a 5th dimension that does not reflect where the actual investment in new trends are readily identifyable on the ground.

Seasons Greetings…

Interesting thoughts. Ikea, Samsung and Ford are flourishing in NA. I think they aren’t seen as trend setters though (except for Ford maybe…?)

The hipster trends seem to only really be in soft goods and fashion at this point. H&M only sells hipster clothes and is maybe the biggest clothing chain now. It doesn’t seem to translate to ID though. After all, hipsters use iPhones just like the rest of us. In fact, maybe the iOS7 killed off whatever hipster-ism was creeping into ID.

I’ve believed that micro-brands and micro-trends would dominate in the future for the last 10 years. So far, I’ve been completely wrong. In fact, after visiting China and Europe over the last 3 years, I feel like maybe the Losangelization of the world is unstoppable.

form follows function is an often sensible coined phrase in our industry, this has become the incumbent responsibility of the industrial designer, but in the future i see a lot more focus on form follows feeling. look at what is happening with the development of the robot generation and artificial intelligence - people, especially individuals, are looking for more meaningful emotional and sensual connections in their product interactions. this is already happening in ux design to some extent, but for more classical industrial design, i think we can exert this influence by exploring and developing a lot more textures and physical phenomena in our products, even varying material temperatures, magnetisms and in particlar smells (invokes some of the strongest emotions like memories). as a major fan of bio-mimicry and bio-mechanics (my current minor in mechanical engineering), i see natural textures and physical effects being developed into products a lot more, especially with 3d printers which are great at printing intricate patterns that traditional manufacturing can’t do because of undercut constraints and so on, another future style…

That is mass deployment. Once something hits that level, it is over.

Steampunk is an old niche trend that definitely started with Asian fascination with Western nostalgia (just look at anomie movies from 10+ years ago (Howl’s Moving Castle as an example). But it still hasn’t hit mass in the West. Also, the DIY hackathons are still Steampunk.

“Form Follows Emotion”
Hartmut Esslinger, founder of frog design said that back in the 70’s

…pretty sure he meant Frog Design. There might be some frog in the Ford Airstream concept though. :smiley:

A couple of continuing movements that might influence trends or looks are the dispersal of CAD to even more industries, increased power of CAD to established design industries, and a resurgence of expressiveness in design buoyed by Western enthusiasm and growing confidence.

For an interesting take on the trend process read Pattern Recognition from William Gibson.

The only way to define a “next” trend is something that is different than the current. Pick anything, make up a catchy name for it, and you’re done. X is always the new Y.

Artifact Craft gives way to Maximal Modernism
Geometric Constructivism shifts to Personal Blobification
Crowdification of Status transforms into Transparent Commodification
Pre-Digital Consumerism becomes Social Authenti-plicity

…I can keep going all day….


IBM has rolled out their (5) predictions for next year…

Digital security
Personal learning - YouTube
Future cities - YouTube
Cancer treatment - YouTube
local retailing - YouTube

Do any of you guys track the Doomsday Prepper movement in the US? A few retailers in the western states have now brought this trend to the mainstream.

On the US suburban male highschooler scene…I see them getting more and more evolved with technology and eying the monitization of all their time online. ( i.e startup formation, video game tutorials, amature film making etc.).

Here in Korea, there are signs of “mobile fatigue” as many are tired of having their face glued to their smart phones 24/7 (i.e Kakao-Talk is now losing money). Of course the solution to such a malady is yet another device that controls your smart phone (smart rings, bangles, watches etc.) And Samsung thinks it can create any trend it wants by corralling and using celebrities to endorse their products in the media (per rkuchinsky…I would coin that trend…"app"hluenza gives way to device garaging and the rediscovery of the physical world thru Beyonce’s new album…

Not to interrupt this funny thread, but towards the question where
the “Steam Punk” mega-treand is heading:

From Pagani to Benz in ca. 5 years.

When will it be killed by an Impala?


Yes frog, whoops!

Reading William Gibson is great. Just finished his one of his latest books (Zero History) that was a fictional book on high stakes marketing and trend spotting.

“Steampunk” could come about if the mass-customization trend takes off. That visual style relies on individualism - mass manufacturing is anathema to the entire concept.

What I see as the future is complex forms that take inspiration from cellular structures and what we now know as scifi. I think people have gotten used to forms that are difficult to manufacture or design by hand, so I think more complex forms that are difficult to create even in the digital space will become more prevalent, as we push the current toolsets harder and harder.

I wouldn’t be surprised to also see some iterative design creation - you know where they have a computer run through an algorithm to determine the most efficient design? I expect to see computers take over some parts of the design process as well.