The Future of Design was the subject of our most recent New York City salon. Our distinguished speakers included Josh Rubin (CoolHunting), Jean Lin (Otto.com), LinYee Yuan (Core77), and Dave Pinter (PSFK). In addition to asking what the speakers were looking forward to seeing at the recent International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the conversation spiraled into a larger discussions about design trends. This included topics like crowdfunding, open-sourcing, and sustainable design.
Below are just some of the ideas brought up by the panel and audience.
What Makes Good Design?
The best of contemporary design tends to combine pragmatism and beauty. Function and aesthetics are core drivers of current design. A more recent driver is the exploration of new systems of thinking. This includes rethinking how the material is made and used, or transforming things structurally.
Sustainable Is More Than Green
Sustainability encompasses much more than ecological concerns that deal with energy and minimizing spend. It includes factors such as construction methods and material creation. A company like Material ConneXion is a great example of how by creating a Materials Library, they foster new relationships between materials and designers, while also bolstering clients’ literacy and awareness of new materials.
Another noteworthy company is QuaDror, which provides a versatile structural support system that boasts an ageless principle of design: simplicity. This NYC-based company leverages a unique geometric trick that opens up their innovation to a variety of architectural and material applications.
The Changing Face of Ownership
Ownership use to be pretty basic: a design was either owned by the designer or a manufacturer. Crowd-funding and open-sourcing are breaking down the traditional definition of ownership by involving external influence on a traditionally internal process. This is made possible because people are showing expressed interest in how things are made.
The Increasing Importance of Transparency
There is a lively reaction to mass production. Josh Rubin confirmed that people feel a connection with process. Inquiry about the design, the process, and site of creation have become second nature to a growing portion of the population. These individuals are seeking an emotional connection with their purchase and that this knowledge facilitates a way for us to connect with others. This can be traced back to the rise of unique collaborations (limited edition footwear, for example) because this personalized, bitesize luxuries give us a story to tell and make the purchase special to us.
Some consumers don’t want to buy scalable design; they want something unique, rare, and limited. A traditional ‘trends perspective’ can easily polarize these two trends, but cultural insight shows that there is plenty of grey areas. For example, digital prototyping and traditional craftsmanship can be viewed to be opposing trends, when in fact, you can digitally craft something. While digital tools lower costs & enable designs to scale, the larger process of the designer can be more elaborate and tedious.