What will product design look like in 2023?

As part of our series on design in 2023, Son Tran, director at PriestmanGoode, offers his view on what product design might look like in 2023.

Image credit: Aisling McCoy

What do you think product design will look like in 2023?

Rather than predictions about a new aesthetic, what interests us at PriestmanGoode is how design will drive change, leading to improvements in people’s lives and a more optimistic future for the planet. Beyond delivering the physical and tangible, design can lead new conversations and provoke different perspectives to resolve critical challenges.

With wider recognition of the need to reduce waste and preserve resources, design is shifting towards more modular solutions where individual elements can be replaced without the need to re-purchase from scratch. So, rather than defining new products to support a never-ending cycle of consumption, design can focus on solving more complex and meaningful matters whilst engaging people across the process.

We see this in our work for the transport sector, where new products launching in 2023 will likely remain in service beyond the target dates for net zero. Therefore, design has a role to play in educating on the benefits of modularity, longevity and the use of circular materials. Similarly in public transport systems that are adjusting to different patterns of working and commuting, greater engagement with passengers will be essential to meet evolving mobility needs and put under-utilised spaces such as stations and high streets to more imaginative uses.

We also hope that the power of design will finally remove barriers associated with accessibility. Rather than wait for legislation, the ambition and optimism associated with design is the best way to create products that work for all requirements, through this inclusive approach.

Finally, we predict that design for the metaverse will become as important as design for physical interactions. Brands now see exciting possibilities to engage customers beyond the physical in more immersive ways, and in doing so create new experiences. Success will be measured by the ability to convert these experiences into additional value.

What was your favourite product design project of 2022, and why?

Brightline Miami

In our work in product and experience design, we’re always on the look-out for the exemplary and we found it in 2022 when we travelled on the Brightline Florida rail service that connects Miami to West Palm Beach, and eventually to Orlando and Tampa. In this privately funded system, the train sets are designed around the needs of passengers, with the highest levels of comfort. Journeys are fully integrated with first and last mile journeys on scooters and electric vehicles and the branded experience guides passengers at every stage from kerbside to destination. It’s “rail utopia” and we regularly quote it as such!

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