Design industry predictions for 2015 – part one

In the first part of our series of design industry predictions for 2015, leading industry figures tell us what they think will happen in branding, graphics, interactive and product design, and financial performance.


Marina Willer

“For a while, brands have been opening up and trying to incorporate change. To a point, this has become the norm. People are skeptical of branding because everything seems constructed – even the most flexible, open and participative brands seem to be carefully composed by some specialists in a brand lab, where everything is meticulously calculated based on trends in the digital world. Maybe the way to go is less brand interference. Ultimately, brands need to exert less control – and I don’t just mean that brand labs need to design things that look ‘undesigned’. Brands just need to get out of the way. Luckily design is not just about branding. Maybe, to create things, we need to start with what people truly need and give it form, life and expression.”

Marina Willer, partner, Pentagram Design


Simon Elliott

“On a positive note, I predict an increase in international requests for British design expertise in 2015. Nearly 40 per cent of our business came from outside the UK in 2014, and we’re anticipating further growth in exciting overseas opportunities next year. On a negative note, I also predict we’ll get asked – and will promptly decline – to free pitch for something within weeks of returning in the new year. So please can 2015 be the year that sees requests for (and the mugs who agree to) free pitching, stop. How can anyone take our industry seriously when people give away what most of us are trying to make a living from?”

Simon Elliott, partner, Rose Design


Clair Neal

“I think we’ve been saturated by digitilisation over the past few years and we’re enjoying a bit of a physical renaissance. Over the next 12 months we’ll definitely see more connected objects – not just from 3D designers adding digital features to products, but also digital designers looking for new ways to engage a screen-fatigued audience through tactile interfaces. In February 2014, the late great Berg showcased their connected washing machine prototype Cloudwash. It sparked much debate around the genderisation of household appliances, internet devices and interaction design. I don’t think this was an issue that they were trying to tackle with this project but it would be great to see more contentious white goods in 2015!”

Clair Neal, lead designer, Kin Design


Sebastian Conran
© Richard Seymour

“With a comparatively small product design team of 18 people at Apple, the company makes a huge impact by transforming science and technology into outstanding user experience and consumer culture. This demonstrates the power and potential of excellent early-stage industrial design in combination with world-leading class science and technology. The efficiency of modern communication now enables small teams of UK designers to work effectively with businesses around the world, whether an entrepreneurial start-up or an established brand using more of a Silicon Valley modus operandi. With the fast-growing and ageing population, the focus on smart homes enhancing the experience of later life, and the thoughtful design of robotics and autonomous systems will also be an area of interest. We need to design for our future selves.”

Sebastian Conran, founder, Sebastian Conran Associates

Financial Performance

Esther Carder

“I don’t mean to be doom and gloom, but I am not sure that 2015 will be much easier for design than 2014 was. Continued pressure on staff costs, particularly those with digital expertise, will continue. Design work is often procured on a project-by-project basis, making planning ahead more difficult. Permanent staff are usually complemented by a raft of people engaged on a freelance basis, to manage the peaks and troughs as well as to provide specific skill sets. Freelancers, particularly those with digital expertise, come at a price. Utilising the available resources in the most efficient way is absolutely key to optimising margins.”

Esther Carder, partner, Kingston Smith W1

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