What'll be the next "big thing" for design?

Hi there, I just have a quick question that may get several different answers, and that’s what I hope to get from the people here at Core77.

I’ve been thinking about moving forward and learning something new, and perhaps get a bit ‘ahead’. So I would like to know what you guys think will be the next big thing for design, where the new opportunities will be in order to have greater chances to start a career with not to much competition :wink:

There has been experience design, interaction design, service design, and a lots about eco-design, so what’s next? What should a designer wanting to get onto something new be studying, learning and focusing on?

I’m in Sydney by the way.


German D Salamanca

I’m not sure what the next “big” thing is, those things you mentioned are still very much part of the today’s design culture and sought after. I think employers want to find someone who has a wider range of versatility in the design field. So you can be a specialist in say eco materials but you should still make sure you’re well rounded otherwise you will put yourself in corner. Also, if you go after something with little competition, you’re also going after something without much opportunity which basically makes it just as hard or harder. But if you find the next big thing, let us know :slight_smile:.

Just a “quick” question?

Hmm, I’ll answer that with another question. What is better, specializing in the next big thing which will be the next old thing in 5 years, or focusing on a set timeless skills, knowledge sets, and experiences to apply creativity to everyday things no matter what buzz words happen to be in vogue? I have my answer :wink:

I’m with Yo here (if I get you right). I personally think design is getting divided into ever smaller disciplines which are just causing confusion. To me design (and design education) should focus on what some (I do at least :wink: ) call integrated product design, or just plain industrial design. Master a well balanced set of skills combined with knowledge about the design process (the process in general, not focused just on service/UX/eco/the next BIG thing) and you will do well.

Just my thought.

Service Design. Just my two cents.

Get your basic design skills down. You can apply those toward any industry.

Your getting me right!

Design education is getting more and more fractured while ignoring that industry is getting more integrated. Our people don’t need to be industrial designers, or graphic designers, they need to be designers. They need to understand hardware blueprints as well as they can understand software wireframes, business models, societal macro trends, and retail planograms… the solution? Be awesome.

Yes, I totally agree with Yo and all of you guys! didn’t know this question will take me back to the basics, sometimes you just lose sight of what’s really important…
back to work now, I will keep reading your replies when I get back home. Thank you all.

Cardboard furniture design.

But seriously, being in Australia, I think you will just need to make sure you have a great portfolio which shows your creative side as well as your problem solving abilities.

A lot of my job is making other “designers” work manufacturable. Adding draft to moulded parts, machining allowance, wall thicknesses etc etc.

Maybe I have split off from traditional Industrial Design as I am designing parts and then designing and modelling the tooling to make the parts.

The convergence of these things combined with augmented reality, OLED technology, social media, virtual property, and massive multi-user worlds.


And also cheap 3d printing

Change is accelerating. I am astonished by how much has changed since getting my degree 15 years ago.

Here’s what I’m seeing:

Design will continue to be demystified, democratized, crowd-sourced, open-sourced, globalized and empowered by new tools.

The Western designers that have dominated the world scene since the Industrial Revolution will be in decline against a virtual onslaught of skilled Asian talent and the inevitable rise of BRIC brands. As a result, design will increasingly be about methodologies that allow them to stay relevant to context. Location will have less to do with design except when it comes to designing for locals. But at the same time, the concept of localization will diminish as the world is increasingly in-step with global trends.

In corporate settings, the days of the ‘designer behind the curtain’ are over. Designers will have to learn to not only share their “design thinking” methods, but share their role with multi-disciplinary teams. Instead of doing the work, they will increasingly invent and enable the work done by others.

Agile software methodology will continue to rise, and it will inevitably impact other design disciplines.

Design workflow will be impacted by software tools that are increasingly integrated and collaborative.

We will see the global freelance design community grow as designers are enabled to form productive, ad-hoc and global virtual teams. Corporate and consulting groups will shrink as they shift focus to project management and quality control.

Global brands will continue to grow, and it’s possible that we will actually have fewer product choices than we’ve had in the past (look at the auto industry recently.)

Social Design?

sharp post, as always CG…

some other growing trends that could affect designers:

explosion of elderly populations and design for their needs
continued rise of individuality (a paradox because uniqueness usually needs to be confirmed by peers)
an opposite trend, peoples desires to be connected and part of communities (facebook, forums, etc…)
responding to behaviors caused by the recession (people spending less, looking for more meaning in purchases, DIY)
one of those meanings is “trust”… could be a case for stronger brand development in products
another, though beat to death, is ‘sustainability’ and ‘green’… maybe more accurately, ‘responsibility’
nationalism vs globalization - the possibility that national identity being diluted

there’s tons more… see if you can find a recent trend report, the’re full of ideas

I’ve been around for a while too (10-ish yr career) and have also seen the acceleration of change. It’s been going on for a while, 50+ years…

Another thing I’ve noticed that almost all the design consultancies are now putting strong emphasis on strategy & brand, possibly because of the globalization/comoditization of design… the thinking behind products is harder to crack than the CAD modeling or hot sketching that can be sourced or creatively directed.

If you are searching for the “next big thing” then look for the moments of conflict or convergence between design disciplines. Revolutions often come from applying knowledge in one area to the problems in another area.


Totally right, and excellent point!

Hehe scary thought but I always believed the next step for a designer is to go into politics and lobby to institute design ‘laws’ to profit from. Everyone else is doing it…?!

There are already plenty of “design laws.” Public safety. Intellectual Property. Standardizations. Investments. Good things in my opinion.

But I do think it’s possible to see the role of “design czar” as governments continue to recognize the power of design in their economy.

more Diamond plate?