Design in 2019 – what will product design look like?

As part of our series on design in 2019, Sebastian Conran, founder of his self-named studio, looks at what will happen in product design over the next 12 months.

Sebastian Conran, founder, Sebastian Conran Associates. Photo © David Moseley

What do you think 2019 will hold for product design?

Hopefully, 2019 will see an advancement in the sustainability movement happening in design and retail, resulting in a significant change in consumer attitudes and a greater focus on reducing the use of plastic in single-use packaging, especially in foods. Also, hopefully designers will focus on extending the useful lifetime of the products we are designing, so they last as long as possible.

We can start by tackling the culture of disposable consumerism, so we don’t instinctively buy new clothes, furnishings and gadgets primarily because we are concerned with keeping up with fashion, rather than actually needing them.

The fashion, product, manufacturing and building industries are some of the worst polluters, so designers and architects really can change the world for the better, but only if we think and act responsibly — and are given the opportunity.

What was your favourite product design project in 2018 and why?

My favourite “design” of last year was Sir David Attenborough’s outstanding Blue Planet 2, the BBC series that raised significant public awareness of plastic pollution, both domestically and internationally, an influence dubbed the “Blue Planet effect”.

Paradoxically, “new” digital technology has allowed Attenborough and the BBC to collaboratively design, manufacture and internationally distribute a product with huge impact, drawing attention to the negative effects “old technology” and globalisation are having on our planet and the future of mankind.

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