what do you consider an important new design trend?

I posted this in the General forum too but thought this was better.

O.K. so a question to post out to the great design forum…

If you had to sum up what the new design trends, materials, techniques or resources were in the US…what would you say?

Since we are all taught differently at various schools and live in diferent areas I thought I could ask a collective large group what you think is influencing design the most at the moment? Any area of design will do?

Personally I feel that there is an abundance of clean design that uses bezels. Parting lines that are accentuated and made aware, but the use of bezels is showing up in so many designs from Infinity cars to cell phones to laptops. Maybe it is too broad a statement…tell me what you all think please,


Great topic! Ironic it took so long… Here’s some personal observations:

Knobs appearing on electronic products
Extruded forms (think iPod mini)
The DIY look
The Pimped-out look
Mass-Design (think Target, DWR)
Simplicity and Purity (think Google, Apple…)
“sucked-in” replaces “poofed-out” (think BMW)
Pop-out UI’s (think OSX and Flash)
Subtle 3D replaces superflat graphics
Flatter is better (think Motorola RAZR, flatpanels, PS2)
The BLOG aesthetic (think ID magazine)
Lots of fun with blue LED’s
Less-Big (think Hummer H3, Supersize)

Definitely the pimping trend.

I am a bit concerned with the series of chopper shows on discovery channel. Reason being that the process of making those choppers is nothing but trial and error. They choose a pre-fab frame, put pre-made parts and piece them together. If it looks cool, fine. If it sucks, they will still make it sound cool. This is not the process we call design. There is no design in the sense that all they do is piece some OEM parts together. And all those chrome may be too blinding.

So that’s my take. I hope this doesn’t last long.

I’ve been thinking about this alot lately.

I think a lot of the above trends can be conglomerated into an overriding macro trend: retro. Now before you get all uppidy, just hear me out.

Knobs on products- total throwback to 50’s,60’s
Extrusions- 60’s,70’s
DIY look- late 60’s early 70’s
Blingerific Pimped- late 50’s

All retro if you step back. If you break it down, this happened at the end of the 19th century/ begining of the 20th as well. The industrial revolution decended upon the western world and their was an imediate facination with all things ornate.

My prediction is that this retro glamorous trend will continue until about 2008-2010, while it will continue to evolve during that period into several new manifestations. Take a look at what was ‘hot’ at this years milan furniture show and you will find it fitting into two groups. 1] overly ornate and old fashioned in new materials (resin LouiseXIV chest to die cut plastic organic pendant light and 2] ultra Modern with the capital M, looking like pieces that where unmade from the bauhaus period.

After 2010 I think we will find a return to the furure. Retro will probably catch up with us [we are allready seeing the 80’s in fashion] and we will be able to move on.

Just a theory, any thoughts.

great post, yo. as always.

I thought of 3 others:

eBay is changing the way we view “stuff” in several ways:

  1. The end of Disposability: eBay has become an influencer to buy more durable or long-term products that can be re-marketed. Directly related to this is 2. The end of hording…You don’t need to hold onto things since you know you can always find them again on eBay. and 3. Collecting: It’s a lot easier, and more people are doing it. I think we’ll see more products that are marketed as collectable, or considered part of a “limited” series.

TCO (Total Cost of Ownership): More products are based on license fees or expensive disposables.

Sustainable-Design: Haven’t seen it happen yet…but lots of buzz.

Yo-I agree re; the retro trend, this and “the quest for authenticity” are two macro-trends that affect many others. …Wait, didn’t we talk about this before?

eddie izzard, nice, very nice.

yeah, pretty much everything is in some relation retro. Can you think of anything that is 100% completely original and has no hint of resemblence to something? Probably not. But yeah, obvious retro is becoming more ‘cool’ if you will. I think something interesting that has been going on for a few years in the aesthetics and form department is something I like to call ‘organic geometry.’ It quite fun and interesting to explore the boundary between these two seemingly opposite concepts. The hard with the soft, the jagged with the smooth, the mathematical with the natural, you hopefully get the point. You can find this in most of the ‘designed’ objects that are finding their way into our lives.

Did we??? funny.

Good call aBay extending the product life cycle.

I think if we consider design more closely (or more probably influence those above us to consider it) we have the opportunity to create objects that people will actually WANT to either hang onto or pass on (either for free or for sale), at this point I am beginning to have sellers on eBay that I consider my favorites (I collect vintage eclectic desk fans approx 1920-1970).

As a little tangent to the tangent here, I am shopping for a new car, not immediately , but I kind of have my feelers out to a few dealers. On the list are the Nissan 350z, the Porsche Boxster, the TT Quattro Turbo, and the BMW z4 (all used). I’m thinking of culling it down to the Boxster and TT, after driving them all, they are the only products I could see myself hanging onto as long as they still work, while I could see getting bored of the 350z and the z4. Thinking about the products design longevity is affecting the purchase.

Thanks for all the awesome replies. I definately have missed hearing from designers with different opinions. Keep it coming, I’m loving it!

The ebay thing is great, durable goods with a long life is something we should strive for. Not like cell phones with a 9 month life. And the retro thing. It is kind of neo-retro though. Retro with a new flare to it. I don’t know.

Oh, and when you say knobs, explain an example of where you see them in use. Retro, it is easy to say something is retro, but what does it actually mean? I know what it means but what in the design of the product made it that way to begin with? Is it just the color, form, context? What was the context in which it was originally made? I think we all can copy an existing ideal and say that it is retro. But why was it designed that way in the beginning? I guess we have to get into the mind of the designer of the time and find out the drivers that made him/her create it in the way they did. With out fully understanding the mindset of the original designer are we really creating retro? Or is it just a knock off?

I’m not so sure about the proliferation of knobs. Cell phones have some of the worst controls… one of the reasons I haven’t bought any of the new phones.

Society really has yet to come to grips with it’s control interfaces yet (so to speak). They want good controls in their autos and for their high-end electronics, but are willing to tolerate crappy design (you know who you are!) in their portable gadgets and in low-end electronics. It’s more like economy-class bling.

And even though it might all look retro, it’s really about customization. Problem is that when the consumers are the ones deciding the look, we end up with retro because most people will gravitate towards the familiar, the old. It’s the reason chopper and budget reno are so in… people don’t need a design background to understand it.


NPR had a report today on the new crafts movement, specifically mentioning it’s hip-quotient. This is certainly a part of the DIY trend and also the ANTI-DESIGN trend. People like to buy one-of-a-kind stuff that expresses some element of individuality. They also like the connection in purchasing something from the maker themselves.

Craft,…like hand-blown glass from China? or crafty “looking” things? (i.e. made to look like they are or could possibly be hand made).

Is Wabi-Sabi still a trend?
Material characteristics of wabi-sabi:
suggestion of natural process

I disagree with the eBay points except point 3 - Collecting. You could make some side $$$ working that one on eBay. On “disposability” (and maybe this should be a seperate thread but what the heck), what does everyone think about IKEA products/design? If the message is “good design should be accessible”, could this also backfire into “good design is (can be) disposable?”

I do agree (unfortunately) with the Retro, but in the cut-n-paste sense. Design history repeating itself, but just in new materials and processes.

Good thread!

About the hip crafters. It all kind of became “a new cool thing” about 7…10? years ago here in the USA among young women as a celebration of femininity and as a reaction against feminist movement of 60s…70s
Of course, there’re other causes, but this third generation of feminists with the help of Internet, played an important role in setting the craft trend.

Designboom just recently mentioned jenny hart’s art and her online business - Sublime Stitcher. This is an interesting story, big (relatively) guys stealing embroidery designs from a crafty lady…a story with a happy end, though.

yes CG, we’ve discussed some of this already.

i disagree Retro is “macro trend”. i think its “micro”. and based in psychology of design managers and older consumers wanting return to simple good old days. wouldnt use Retro term for whats happening. to me that implies 50’s+ old stuff like on Yo’s list. i think this is bigger. goes back to before Retro. much more general. can be anything. whatever we want . right now people want safe and reassuring.

thing about industrial revolution is forms didnt change much at first. was “aint broke dont fix” design mentality. why mess w good shapes/solutions. i dont think the fascination with ornate was necessarily new. just not affordable to the masses before. only became available in early 1900’s. not much change to originally crafted shapes since big savings were in big new processes. adding a few small ones wasnt too big a deal. many still had alot of handwork in them. Alot. just less than before. that made a big difference then. the real change was post-WWII…

imo we’re seeing a kind of rewind. we’ve discussed this before in other threads (like Anti-Design). wont repeat here. but most of what is said here matches up. we’ve seen the worst most restrictive days imo. the 50’s til the 80’s will be that era. now we’re swinging back to early industrial revolution (how many know China manufacturing will make nicer parts by using lo-tech simpler tooling and adding more labor… or did just a few years ago; that got us some of the nice products out there). with China labor costing more, a squeeze is coming. echo from before. an aftershock. but wont last. RP technology is getting good. friend just ordered an RP tool from Germany. he’s seen their work and is amazed. top quality molds in days not months. or final parts of any complexity. just like pre-Industrial Revolution. thats macro.

my pick for next macro design trend: Design Chaos

talking eBay, won my first auction yesterday! i agree with all three points. might also read Sterling’s Wired comments - Trackback | WIRED

Anti-Design thread - Anti-Design trends - #10 by ykh

modified my big post. additions in . surprised i’m consistent…


Authentic craft/DIY: People who design their own items, and produce them to sell.

In Chicago, crafters have been putting on their own mini-mall shows here in Chicago: (The The DIY Trunkshow or Renegade Craft Fair) Think booths and booths of self-produced products that ranged from fashion to books to iPod cases to jewelery to silkscreened stuff to stationery to acessories. Not a lot of traditional “products” yet, but they’re soon to proliferate.

Borderline craft/DIY: Readymade Magazine, computer modding, and the like. Lots of magazines and websites that instruct people on how to make their own “DIY” stuff. How DIY is it when you didn’t think of it?

Psuedo craft/DIY: Urban Outfitters, Express, H&M-- you’re seeing lot’s of “handmade-looking” products. Most obvious in clothing, you’ll see “misprinted” t-shirts, faux-handmade scraves, and new clothes that look like resale.

Obviously a DIY movement has and will always exist, but corporate product design should take note as to the fact that people want more of a personal connection to products.

“Ambient Devices,” “Phidgets” and other oddball USB peripherals represent a whole new category of products that I think will become very hot in the coming years.

People are beginning to see that their PC monitor doesn’t need to be the only window to their data.

eBay “expert” on tv this am. how to sell: “make it personal”. whats selling? toys of course. and “lots of 50’s(?) retro lime green kitchen appliances”. (puts it more in the 60’s early 70’s w tail end of Baby Boomers). sounds like some hippy nostalgia going on there.

tangent: got my first eBay win yesterday. $10 vidcard ripped from a corporate workstation (advantage of jobs going overseas i guess). two years old. still fetching $1200 new online. works beautiful. really does put a new spin on product. i’m thinking Renderfarm!

I’m wondering if all this "retro " is more of a reassessment of design in general. Responding more to the technological and material advances that we have made. Also taking into account new knowledge in the ways of ecology and sustainability. So now that people are moving towards more personal products we are better able capitalize/ realize on good ideas from the past using the knowledge we have now. Sort of like an information gathering period before the next big leap forward. This is of course in a general way since the blue sky research of today is what will fuel the production of tomorrow.

hope this made sense…