Last month I found myself at a talk by Renee Labbe from Stylesight at Clerkenwell Design Week. She discussed the four trends predicted for 2012 in a talk titled “Consumer Influence and Trends in the Post-Recession era”. I scribbled notes as she showed slide after slide of colours, themes and inspiration covering aspects of design from fashion to architecture. Here is my attempt at summarizing the predictions she presented. I like elements of each of these trends, and it’s interesting to refer to these ideas when looking at current design.
Trend 1: “Analogue”
This is the second evolution of the recession era desire to return to basics, make do and mend, simple and long-lasting ideal. It’s clean, minimal and orderly, bringing to mind Dieter Rams’ 10 design principles (see his 1959 T41 Radio for Braun above). It’s androgenous, with boxy silhouettes, strong lines and stripes and minimal details. Small flaws in a product give it a sense of craftmanship. Also important are transparency, in that the workings or structural forms are exposed, giving a sense of honesty. Comforting forms also fit here, cocoons and graphic felt furniture. Where details are used they are clean, often cuts and perforations, with an emphasis on utility. Analogue in it’s literal meaning can be seen in hand operated products over digital ones, bringing to mind a nostalgia for simpler things. A scholastic trend also fits here in graphical decoration, scribbles and pencil marks.
In terms of colour, grays, colbalt blues, dark oranges, olive greens and soft neutrals represent the trend. “Greige” was a term that came up, meaning undyed or untreated, but in colour terms a mix of grey and beige.
Trend 2: “Soul”
This trend emphasizes craftmanship. A handmade aesthetic, particularly African or Caribbean, and a focus on textiles, influences disciplines from buildings to homeware. Oversized woven “hive” forms, containers and vessels, scarred surfaces and loose braiding. Lines are raw and organic, not perfectly straight, unexpected materials are used for lighting and interiors. Recycled mixed woods and pattern blocked bright colours. The woven hair and natural textures used at the Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Paris Show in April 2011 are a good example of the trend (see above).
Colours for this trend are warm, with lots of soft, rich, earthy browns, bright yellows, tropical blues and acidic greens.
Trend 3: “Manifesto”
This is about nostalgia for the glamour of the 70s and 80s, for Studio 54, when celebrities were mysterious rather than splashed across the media falling out of taxis with no knickers, and opulence to the point of bad taste defined decor. We’re looking back to a pre-facebook time when privacy existed. This trend is a little more refined than the original, about smaller gatherings rather than opulent parties and quiet quality is preferable over showing off. Materials are Crystal, Brass, synthetics, exotic woods, curvaceous marble and a hint of gold. This is about modern decadence, like the interior of a hotel. Also in this trend are neon and night fever, colour-blocking and kaleidoscopic retro prints.
Colours are intense pinks, purples, reds, golds and turquoise, with masculine shapes.
Trend 4: “Rebel”
This plays on the idea that “fringe is the new mass”. Hipsters, Etsy, 14 year old Bloggers and the “long tail” of online shopping represent a shift in influencers. Online shops can stock everything, requiring no real space, and so offer a bigger range of products than ever before. Rapid prototyping, customization and digital printers offer one-off products. Themes include fringe culture, fetish, anarchy, tattoos, disturbia, victoriana, heavy metal, futuristic armour, tooled scrollwork leather and elaborate detail. Fierce forms like spikes, splits, skulls and machine parts meet paisley, denim, and unexpected leather. Pretty much fierce Gaga in a nutshell.
Colours for this trend are dirty metallics, black, greys, faded denim and coffee skin tones teamed with strong reds, pins and blues.
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