Trend Forecasting

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Moodboard at Foster+Partners: an inspirational panel to envision the projects’ guidelines, and anticipate new solutions for the future. A Good Design Manager should be keen to visualize and understand the short, medium and long term impact of the new and emerging changes.

Trend forecasters are lifestyle investigators who work on detecting today’s social psychology, culture, aesthetic and consumer attitudes and establish connections between these factors from the present to the future. Particular techniques and processes are required in order to predict a so-called trend, and intuition is a crucial factor. Whereas a new product, a new concept, a new work of art of today may represent the direction in which something tends to move, trend is the process that physically and intellectually drive this change through emotions. Trend forecasters have been defined as heterophilous persons, open-minded and curious, keen to discover what is innovative and how will the future look like.

Interestingly, in physics the distinction made between past, present and future is nothing more than an illusion. In the sixth lesson of his book, Carlo Rovelli states that in physics there is nothing that corresponds to the notion of ‘now’ and what we call ‘present’ is purely subjective. It is a brain-teaser! But in fashion as well as in design and architecture future is a reality. The method that scientists use to solve this and many other philosophical issues is to work though predictions based on probability, and similarly does a trend forecaster.

As anticipated, intuition is a pivotal aspect of the job of a trend forecaster. Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman studied the mode of operation of brain and realized that it is divided into two systems of thinking: the rational, and the automatic, which deals with intuition and unveils how powerful it is. A perfect example of someone who applied her intuition for building a brilliant career in this field is Li Edelkoort, who defined the discipline as ‘archaeology of the future’. Li has been recognizing patterns on daily basis and sifting through fragments, with the outputs of her findings presented around the world for more than thirty years.

Probably one the most inspiring and influential trend forecaster, Li stated in a recent interview: ‘Things cannot just be objectified, they need to be placed in context. Like trends, objects we see are part of a bigger sentence’. Exploring situations, opening the eyes to the vast array of cultures around and making connections is what trend forecasting is all about.

References:

Kaheneman, D.(2011) Thinking fast and slow. New York: Farrar.

Raymond, M(2010) The trend forecaster’s handbook. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Rovelli, C.(2014) Seven brief lessons on physics. Italia: Adelphi Edizioni.

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