Trends, predictions, observations.

The thread with the youngster wanting to get into design, and totaly stoked about shoe design caused me to ponder some things. I did a attemt at shoe design, but as most of us know there are just some things you just dont get a feel for, and for me its shoes. I was around when NIKE first came out, saw them from time to time and thought “oh kinda of like high perfomance tires for people” and promply forgot about it. I would never had predicted the move into the more general market. It happend right in front of my eyes, yet I didnt see it. The mobile phone was easier, back in 92 I was paid to write a white paper on what G-3 phones would be in the near future, totaly missed texing but got porn/images/web/gambling right. Phones were going to get smaller and smaller untill people said “I sneezed where did my phone go” and the trend would stablise, that was a easy one.

Ok so whats the purpose of this ramble? In part to remind myself to be more open to seeing trends, just because I am not into it (sports, running, shoes, fashion) dont mean that zillions are not. The other thing is fellow zippies is to remind YOU the younglings of the same, that new markets and trends are happening right in front of your eyes and if your open about it you might be able to jump in and establish a beach head on some new turf.

So boys and girls, what trends do you think are happening in front of our eyes, and in general the “big” ones are not the ones you think, the “big” ones sort of sneek up on you over a bit of time.

Not so much sneaking as in your face but not being looked at - sustainability. Obviously there is going to be a lot more of it, but I believe (or hope) that it’s going to morph into less of a product pitch and instead be a ubiquitous part of product development and consumer wants/needs.

Sustainablity has allways been part of design, engingeering and production the older term was “frugal”. Frugal means of couse that you use as little materials and energy to achive a goal. That goal will shift however, a old stone arch bridge is very wastefull in the terms of man power to build it, however is very frugal when looked at its life span. In transportation some methods are very frugal, others because of market demands are much less so (2 seat mini car vrs hummer2) so if the consumer accepts this old/new idea as a core concept then you might be right…and its back to the past again (1920’s/30’s) for many markets. In that time frugal was praticed by most people, you fixed/repaired rather than bought new, you bought quality rather than trendy.

i don’t think we’ll ever get back to the bought/repaired state as you mentioned. but something similar - because of the scarcity of materials, the consumer’s need for new products and the supply/demand food chain, i believe (this has been posited by many before me) that products will become services. will will lease our TV, etc. and combining design of product that disassemble fully, we will create a closed cycle business environment with materials that are reused completely.

[cradle to cradle]

i think customizability is going to be really huge in every market.
those little cell phone snap ons that go for 20 bucks, the ability to order motorcycles and have the dims tweaked for your order while still using an assembly line proccess…
theres lots of primative examples but this is one thing that i think will get big… just one kids observations

Exactly what I was thinking as well. I have had it in my head that mass customization is the future. Nike’s been doing it for a while. Other companies are coming online. I even heard on the radio yesterday that Madonna (the singer) has a website where you can customize Madonna t-shirts. Pay a touch more, but get exactly what you want. Once the economies of scale are overcome the price will come down and mass-customization will be the norm.

yeah… cheaper RP will make it possible in 3d too

yup i agree, back to the future again. A local snow board mfg tried it and it failed but that was due to capitial not concept. I told him the market is like tatoo’s where you have the idea, staf artist cleans it up or presents it and then makes it happen…huuuuuuum anybody want to joint venture?

do you think the individualism (in this country especially) will hit a peak as a trend and reverse? more of a cultural question i know… but it makes me wonder.

social consumerism is waay up. (product) + Red, Tom’s footwear, + loads of others from organic food to locally produced X.

for sure we’ll see in the near future and present lots more emphasis placed in branding stores on the backend of design, sourcing and supply than currently. i can imagine product labels in the not-so-distant future showing full disclosure of LCA, not only a “made in X” label.

on the customization front, i see the potential for convergence in full feature and form factors. i actually had this concept 6 years ago or so and was going to explore it as my final grad project, but went a different direction…

imagine common technology and components get to the point of reduced cost and increased supply (check the price of flash memory lately vs. 2 years ago?), where products can be manufactured with pretty much all the hardware needed to do just about anything. basically you could purchase a “black box” (not really black, or a box) and define the function, interface, etc. yourself. touchscreen and soft gui systems like the iphone already point this direction where only a firmware flash or hack can enable new functionality.

given that there would be a multitude of forms enabled to potentially do a multitude of features, i’d imagine you could get parallel user groups and social groups around commonalities. ie. X form users (independent of functionality) could share something. Y functionality user groups (independent of form) could share something. puts the traditional fanboy-device centric mentality on its head while still encouraging differentiation and social groupings that would not exist in a pure user generated design space (where everyone has a “unique” design and function).

just some thoughts from waaay back. sure more will come to me as i let this topic stew. good post.


Kuchinsky touched something that I believe will be a big trend in 5-10 years. That’s locally produced products, foods etc, and an all around appreciation for the local areas we inhabit. Part of this will be because air travel will be hit worst with rising fuel prices.

Part of it is because it’s the reverse of the current trend, which is globalization. As people search for … whatever it is … around the world, they will return home and realize what they missed all along. People will rediscover local food, traditions, music, festivals and products.

Another part of localism is the increased awareness of human impact on the environment. Local products and experiences=smaller environmental impact than flying to Bangkok.

Lots of air travel options besides the turbo jet burning jp4. Niven in this tales of Louis Wu postulated that becuase of interconnection via the web that every place becomes like every other place, a gloabal times square if you will.

Bio Fuels or hydrogen will make prices drop in a near future.

I love this phrase, it is somehow related to what you say:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot

I think that local energy production (wind, solar, biodiesel) and climate change will also have a strong impact in society. Mobile technologies will bloom in this context. A lot of innovation will come from the bottom of the pyramid.

I predict a backlash against government backed eco-awareness. Its all a big CON

Green issues are a big propaganda spin for governments and the general public will start to see that soon.

When I stick my glassware in the provided green box for collection, I wonder how much extra money this is costing(me) to recycle…its interesting how supermarkets have managed to pass the cost of packaging refuse(most of which cannot be recycled) on to the customer, by way of tax.

Its time to put pressure on supermarkets to provide green packaging; I’m not sure of the figures, but most household waste is food packaging

I think the way we buy things has been greatly altered by things like ebay and amazon (duh) as well as trusted editors will gain success selling things outside of their core expertise (ie Starbucks selling music).

I think we will see both of these things change the landscape of our lives, from being able to shop for health insurance online with credites from you employer, selecting a doctor through peer to peer ratings ( kind of is getting there) to building a house like buying a car online… I think we are still a ways away from the iHouse though…

Modular and MFG homes have been around for a long time, quality is high but so is stigma. I wonder sometimes about peoples logic circuts.

I think it comes down to that trusted editor part. Ikea just inked a deal with Skanska to make Ikea catalog homes within the next 5 years. We’ll see if the public trusts them enough to make this great idea a success.

We bought a home from Arbor about 4 years ago who is a huge (HUGE) builder out here in the NW. It was a lot like buying a car, with huge options lists, paint packages, upgrades, option packs, and then I worked with them to go off spec on a lot of trims and details. It was easy, and 6 months later it was done. They took care of it from the first meeting to financing. The whole experience felt designed.

I know what you mean and they make a great product. I am a bit of a history buff get ticlked by “back to the future” on so many things. I am sure your aware that for years you could buy a house from the sears and robuck catalog, shiped to you on site then assembled, not modular but a kit all included right down to the nails. I hope Ikea gets it to work, its in my opinion one of the best ways to get a home, the best way is to design and build it yourself a option only a few of us have the ablity/desire to do these days.

The Sears homes were successful for some time, and are sought after today. I think they lost the public trust, eventually they lost it almost entirely. The world moved and they stayed the same.

It’s like they say, everything comes back around, but it does come back in a way that is relevant for that particular time. Building a “designed” house was never an option for the masses. It has always been too expensive. Dwell has been pushing mass produced, designed housing for years, but the cost has never really come down.

I think Ikea might be able to make it happen… if they convince people that the roof and boiler will last longer than the melamine coffee table :wink:

But I think a lot of other goods and services will be shifting this way as well. For instance we have been looking for a landscape architect/designer to help us design our yard. I’m surprised how many don’t have websites… those ones are off the list. Its more efficient to compare portfolios online, side by side, to make a short list of 3-4 to meet with.

I agree and even that meeting could/should be done via web cam. There are lots of oppertuintes, the bitch is picking one that you not only have a passion for but it near enought term to make a buck.