Abstract

In a crowded market place, where technology and functionality are not enough to differentiate a product from its competitors, the product's appearance is a major driver of consumer preference. But preferences change over time, and product forms need to reflect this in order to stay relevant. This paper addresses the usage of trends by designers to inform the design and evolution of their products. Published theory regarding trends in product form exists in the fashion and consumer behaviour domains, but not in direct relation to the design of consumer products. This paper is preceded by a synthesis of literature in adjacent fields and compares the literature understanding with real industrial practice. Interviews with 9 professionals in trend research, design consultancy, furniture, fashion and architecture, were undertaken to explore the value and usage of trends across a variety of creative fields. The interview data were used to corroborate and enhance the literature understanding. In addition, the study also provides some emerging comparisons between design disciplines. The product designers interviewed were unlikely to use formal trend research methods: inspiration, tacit knowledge and experience accounts for much of their creative output. However, trend consultancies have developed methods of identifying and using trends to develop products for 5-10 years in the future. The fashion industry also has established ways of to rapidly identify or predict trend information.

Keywords:

Product form; trends; fashion; foresight

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Jul 16th, 12:00 AM

Trends and Design Relating literature to industry practice

In a crowded market place, where technology and functionality are not enough to differentiate a product from its competitors, the product's appearance is a major driver of consumer preference. But preferences change over time, and product forms need to reflect this in order to stay relevant. This paper addresses the usage of trends by designers to inform the design and evolution of their products. Published theory regarding trends in product form exists in the fashion and consumer behaviour domains, but not in direct relation to the design of consumer products. This paper is preceded by a synthesis of literature in adjacent fields and compares the literature understanding with real industrial practice. Interviews with 9 professionals in trend research, design consultancy, furniture, fashion and architecture, were undertaken to explore the value and usage of trends across a variety of creative fields. The interview data were used to corroborate and enhance the literature understanding. In addition, the study also provides some emerging comparisons between design disciplines. The product designers interviewed were unlikely to use formal trend research methods: inspiration, tacit knowledge and experience accounts for much of their creative output. However, trend consultancies have developed methods of identifying and using trends to develop products for 5-10 years in the future. The fashion industry also has established ways of to rapidly identify or predict trend information.

 

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