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Futures Forecasting

November 17, 2008

On Thursday, I met with Wei Shun Lee, Head of Interiors at Cox Rayner Architects. Wei has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry and was able to provide critical feedback on my designs along with information on some directional products currently used in architectural applications.

We also discussed architectural trends and futures forecasting for products and finishes relative to the industry and how important it is to be aware of the current market and to really project into the future to stay ahead of the pack. This was such a valuable meeting Wei… Thank you!

This has led me back down a path that I began looking into in 2002 – Trend Forecasting.

There are numerous trend forecasting companies around the globe, which create regular trend reports spanning multiple industries. As a subscriber, you have access to these daily, weekly or monthly reports in publications or online. As a client you can have custom reports and strategies created for your business to help give you/your product(s) a distinctive edge in the marketplace.

The biggest questions raised in this area are: “Where do trends actually start?” “Who creates trends?” “Who are the trendsetters”

Forecasting agencies state their job as combing the globe for news and information on what ‘we’, the ‘general public’ are doing, wearing, listening to, talking about, focusing on and demanding of companies, politicians and our communities. They report back to us with details on what we have been doing, what we are doing now and where we feel we want to head in the future – the direction in which our actions imply we all want to go. Apparently, we are creating the trends every day through our own consumption and rhetoric!

Agreed world over, at the pinnacle is Li Edelkoort – the ‘haute couture/avant garde’ of trend forecasting. She has established a number of arms to her business:

  • Trend Union – creates a range of seasonal trend books for the textile, fashion, interior, retail, design and well-being markets
  • Edelkoort Etc – the personal consulting company of Li Edelkoort
  • Studio Edelkoort – made-to-measure trend forecasting and market analysis
  • Edelkoort Inc – US arm of the business, identifying and analyzing future consumer attitudes, lifestyles and economic trends
  • Edelkoort & Edelkoort – insight on brand identity and positioning through architecture
  • Edelkoort Edtions – publishes the bi-annual trend forecasting publications: Bloom: A horti-cultural view and View on Colour: The colour forecasting book.

Other leading futurists, Martin Raymond and Chris Sanderson from The Future Laboratory, will be presenting seminars in Sydney and Melbourne in February 2009, covering the latest global retail, consumer, design and social trends they see as essential to navigate a highly volatile market and give companies a competitive advantage. The Future Laboratory advises many of the world’s leading brands through qualitative and quantitative insights into future consumers and how to target them. They too offer trend reports and custom forecasting, just as most agencies do.

Some agencies give a general feel for our desires through poetry and snapshots of art and street culture – you need to be able to decode these publications with a certain lateral way of thinking, especially if drawing inspiration from them to develop a product or service. Other publications are more literal and get down to the gritty detail of what colour, fabric and garment shape will be ‘in’ next season.

Here are a few links to agencies that span textiles, fashion and design:

So, where does this leave my project? While I am still working on my designs, I’m taking a closer look at the general direction interior products and architecture are headed, both commercially and residentially. This will only help to inform my work and evolve it as we evolve into our future.

At the very least… it’s just very interesting reading!

On closing, I would like to mention some fabulous artists, designers and entrepreneurs that I have been meeting with on a monthly basis over the past year. The ‘Creative Talents Networking Group’ started in 2007 by eco-fashion designer, Thea Samios to bring together like-minded, creative women in an intimate forum to discuss our projects, ask for advice and provide support. As we all work in isolation, these ‘show and tell’ sessions have been instrumental in keeping our motivation high and keeping us true to our goals and deadlines!

Below is a photo from our Xmas lunch on Sunday. Merry Xmas to you all and really looking forward to meeting up again in January 2009!

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