Trend prognoses are more than Instagram mood boards

Interview with futures research agency FranklinTill

At the coming Heimtextil, the new Trend Space will provide an overview of the trends for 2019/2020, presented by London’s Franklin Till futures research agency. In our interview, Caroline Till explains how useable, valid trend prognoses come about and why knowledge of this is so important for the development of future-oriented products.

How do you develop meta trends for future seasons?
As a design forecasting and research agency we are motivated to ask WHY things feel relevant at a particular point in time, WHAT is driving change, and WHO is behind it. The concept of ‘trends’ has got a bad name because there’s such a proliferation of information on the web and in publications these days: people think that anyone can do it. Because of this, the role of the trend forecaster, as an editor and filter of the available information, has become even more important. If new directions in design aesthetics are emerging, we’ll ask why, from where is it coming, and who’s responsible for driving it? Why is it resonating with us now, why is it likely to resonate with the consumer, and what is that saying about our behaviour, attitudes and emerging desires?

On founding https://www.franklintill.com/ we wanted to rethink the traditional and often outdated trend forecasting model. On the one side, you’ve got agencies offering quite dry, inaccessible research and data. On the other side, there’s this idea that trend is about simply pulling together mood boards and colour palettes on Pinterest and Instagram. We want to make research inspiring and accessible. We want to be able to celebrate the forward-thinking work of designers, scientists and innovators, rather than just getting brands to copy them. We want to show that trend forecasting is more than pretty pictures or hard data. If the output is visually inspiring, and the research is valid, then you help brands to design better and in line with their future consumers.

Caroline Till (left) working at the Trend Council of Heimtextil.

Why do we need trends to get inspired?
We hope to inspire and inform, and to help people create long-term ideas in line with future consumer behaviour and design movements. Design trends are obsolete if you’re not looking at the bigger picture and what’s happening outside of your industry. We don’t want to perpetuate brands making just more stuff. Instead, it’s about how we can work with brands to make better stuff that people actually want. It is an approach that’s ultimately better for the planet. It is important that we look at the bigger picture – trends with more longevity – rather than flash-in-the-pan seasonal trends. It helps people make better products: rather than a product that somebody has for a season and is more than happy to dispose of the next, let’s make a product that resonates with your customer and will last a bit longer.

What is different in 2019, where do you see massive changes?
There is a strong and widespread sense that all is far from well in the wider world and a growing feeling that we all need to step up to respond to a variety of issues that are hard to ignore – and translate our concerns into action. The environment is perhaps top of the list, as plastic-choked waters, deforestation, drought, flood and wildlife in crisis become more than just images from far-away places – the effects of climate change and human lack of care are manifesting themselves uncomfortably close to home for people across the planet.

People want their lifestyle choices to actively support the causes they recognise as significant, and to be confident that they are doing all they can to reduce personal and collective guilt around consumption. Design and material innovation thus has a key role to play: consumers are more likely to work towards guilt-free living if they have appealing, affordable, readily available options. This is by no means an impossible dream: we have plenty of alternatives – but we need to activate them. It is a complex topic, there is no magic bullet, but potential of design-led solutions and show how these can support positive progress toward a potential utopia.

How do you think will we live in around 20 years?
Our ways of living do not dramatically shift over the decades- if you look at the living room of the 1950’s for example they still centred around a space for seating and comfort, storage such as shelving for function and display, and textiles such as rugs, curtains and cushions for softness, sound absorption, comfort and self-expression. I think the desire for our homes and places of work to provide escape and comfort, a refuge from complex and busy lifestyles will increase.

What is your personal utopia?
On an emotional and intangible level being surrounded by family and friends, in terms of design and my interior environment a space that feels creative and alive with colour and energy. For me being surrounded by joyful, bright, energetic colour is key for my personal sense of utopia.

Learn more about future trends, colours and textiles at the lectures sessions with Caroline Till at the Trend Space, Halle 3.0.

Photos:
Caroline Till, Anne Marie Commandeur, Titia Dane and Anja Bisgaard Gaede, Photography by Pietro Sutera/Messe Frankfurt
Kate Franklin and Caroline Till from FranklinTill ©FranklinTill, Photography by Kat Green

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