Authenticity to replace bling post-credit crunch
They will eschew bling to dress like Dickensian street children, while visiting luxury stores decorated with muted tones, and buying unique, hand-crafted, ethical design products.
This is a vision of affluent consumers as imagined by The Future Laboratory, which aired its spring trend briefing, Cataclysmic Change, last week at the Faraday Theatre in the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London W1.
‘The world has changed forever,’ proclaims The Future Laboratory co-founder Chris Sanderson. ‘Things will never go back to the way they were before the credit crunch, because the market for bling has cracked, giving rise to a more considered consumer.’
Concentrating primarily on trends among the market-influencing wealthy, The Future Laboratory claims that Marie Antoinette-style behaviour is for the chop, to be replaced by quiet restraint - a result of the ‘psychology of shame’, or guilty consciences.
Those who can still afford luxury will be falling in step with the times, buying into Hermès-style simplicity. Discreet and sombre packaging such as that for champagne brand Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle, by Turkish design studio Autoban, will flourish.
‘Even though luxury brands are quietening down, they are always going to be about excess. This will produce a look involving dull shine, soft metallics, lacquers, grey lighting and simple but striking shapes,’ says Sanderson. ‘It is all about the look of the late afternoon.’
On the mood board for interiors in 2009, until at least 2014, is the work of Ilsa Crawford, the John Rocha store on Dover Street, London W1 and designer Rabih Hage’s Rough Luxe boutique hotel, in London WC1, with its stripped-back aesthetic.
‘You will see a lot of hotels and bars reinventing themselves to bring in the local and the unique,’ says The Future Laboratory co-founder Martin Raymond. ‘Who thinks that the Savoy will have got it right when it reopens? No one.’
The Future Laboratory believes that there will be more opportunities for big-name designers ‘with proven pedigrees’ as consumers call for greater authenticity. ‘Heritage modern brands will feature interiors and furniture by named designers instead of trying to pass off approximations of famous designs as they often do now,’ says Raymond.
‘This is so important, as we are increasingly dealing with a consumer that has a Rolodex of designers in their heads.’
But Raymond also believes that the recession will offer opportunities for new designers. ‘Now is the perfect time for clients to let new blood into the business - bringing someone in with something new to offer, while taking money off the bottom line,’ he says.
Running alongside the new austere aesthetic will be a more playful, science- and technology-driven design trend, according to The Future Laboratory.
‘We live in a time of mash-up’, says director of client projects Tom Saviger. ‘Designers are leading the way, merging ideas from all frontiers to produce feats of the imagination. We need consilient design teams to work with artists and scientists more, developing wild-sky thinking.’
Saviger cites Ideo’s water-purifying bicycle and Lego’s link-up with Digital Blue to produce cameras and MP3 players as instances of design, science and imagination working together.
‘In the 1980s, everything was about the left brain, it was all very rational. In the 1990s it all became about the [creative] right brain. Now it is about the whole brain,’ says Saviger.
Mood board for 2009 and beyond
Furniture - Milk stool by Staffan Holm, and Double Bottle table by Barber Osgerby
Packaging - Net-a-Porter discreet packaging, Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle champagne by Turkish design studio Autoban, and Lego holographic packaging viewable through digital cameras
Interiors - Rough Luxe Hotel in London by Rabih Hage, Landau Restaurant at Langham Hotel in London by David Collins
Products - Hermès cutlery, Lego cameras and MP3 players, Ideo’s water-purifying bicycle