Predicting Products: Using futurology in design
Whilst it is somewhat unusual for agencies to specialise in both branding and product design, we firmly believe by integrating these disciplines, we achieve the best results for our clients. Branding and web design ensure all ‘touch points’ are consistent and impactful. Directing a photoshoot whilst designing the product’s packaging means we influence how it’s perceived before it leaves the box. And combining product design with our ‘psychic skills’ ensures the products we create are bang on trend… Okay, so that last service is a little exaggerated. We are many things, but psychic isn’t one of them! Having said that, as the market gathers pace and becomes even harder to enter, designers no longer have to just identify gaps in the market; they have to predict them years in advance.
If we had a crystal ball that could predict consumer demands, we wouldn’t still be working as designers. Instead, what we do is more akin to ‘futurology’; we look at what’s possible, probable and preferable, as well as the occasional wild card to generate inspiration. Take the mobile phone for example. Less than a decade ago, you’d have expected a phone to have high quality sound, a good reception and maybe a long battery life. Now our phones are our cameras, music and organisers, our social media accounts, our Internet, maps, weathermen and watches – oh, and occasionally, we get a phone call on them too!
Innovation doesn’t have to be some technologically advanced device. In fact, as awareness of damage done to the planet increases, we predict the future will be green - very green. But how do you get people to support this vision and recycle when they haven’t seen it for themselves? The work we’ve been doing with Green Warehouse is just one way. This is a company committed to minimising the impact of its activities on the environment and encouraging its customers and suppliers to do the same. We’ve developed a number of products for this forward thinking company, amongst which is the original, highly successful 70 ltr U-bin made completely from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic - an unprecedented environmental credential! The shaped and coloured inserts ensure that only the correct waste can be inserted, whilst the sloping lid prevents items being left on top. With joining clips to create ‘multiple bin stations’, recycling becomes the easiest option. We believe the future of design is about minimising damage to the planet – in the meantime the award-winning bin ensures everyone does their bit.
As designers, our job is to create elegant solutions to problems. As ‘futurologists’, our job is to identify those problems with our clients and to capitalise on the business opportunities these bring. A few years ago we wouldn’t look twice at plastic disposal and today we can’t pick up a straw without thinking about sea turtles. Now we’re designing for when the gravity of our environmental footprint hits home. It’s hard to say what products will exist in a few years– perhaps edible food wrappers or plastics that can swim from marine life – but in the meantime we continue to work on products of the future, whether that be for tomorrow or the next year.