On the cusp

For a brief moment, 2011 is still a blank canvas – but not for long. Design Week asks a range of experts what they think will happen in their sector this year and hears some exciting predictions


Heard about ’friendtelligence’? Know what ’performancing’, ’ethosonomics’ and ’richlessness’ mean? No, me neither. The strange world of brand strategy blogs continues to spew forth new terminology, bolting words together in an attempt to define the new phenomena influencing the future of branding in 2011. But talk to the people on the frontline of creating and maintaining brands and you’ll find them rightly clinging to those time-honoured virtues, the ones we predicted would come to the fore when the banks went belly-up: usefulness, frugality, emotion, openness, and that big one: honesty. In fact, in this blossoming age of information, as Wikileaks serves up daily revelations of conspiracy and a whole generation of UK youth becomes radicalised by their anger at the flimsiness of promises made, would it be pushing the truth to say that ’honesty’ and ’trust’ will become more powerful brand currencies than ever?
Matt Baxter, Creative director, Together


In the spirit of Alan Kay, who said that the best way to predict the future is to invent it, here are my ’predictions’ for 2011. More designers will discover the joys of programming using Swiss-knife tools like Live Code. The public will discover an appetite for interactive publications like Phaidon’s 1000 Design Classics and our DK Eyewitness Travel apps. The Internet and the real world will continue to merge via developments in hardware (such as Near Field Technology) and software (like Tim Berners-Lee’s semantic web). Apple will reveal why the new iTunes logo is actually a cunning move in brand development, not the sad ugly dog it appears to be. Finally, thanks to a revolutionary education campaign, Cogapp has delivered to designers via their Christmas turkeys, all new corporate identities will be handed over to clients fully equipped for life online.
Alex Morrison, Managing director, Cogapp


2011 will be the year a more sensible approach to editorial design than the panicked ’print is dead’ narrative will prevail. Content and its design is more important than ever, and customer publishers will have to be at their best to counter both the big ad agencies and the smaller content agencies such as The Church of London as they move in on their territory. On the newsstand, newspapers will continue to struggle, but the best magazines that have survived the recent cull will bloom, as will a host of breakthrough independents such as Apartamento, Fire & Knives, Anorak and Little White Lies. Watch out for new launches too, including Port, which is taking on the men’s market. iPad magazine apps will continue to fascinate and confuse. I hope publishers and designers alike will see beyond last year’s bells-and-whistles approach and create simpler, but more effective content for the third and fourth waves of apps.
Jeremy Leslie, Creative director, Mag Culture


A blank canvas? The furniture industry is huge, supplying product to many areas of industry and commerce. It’s a global industry, but fused with intense local nuance and complexity, as well as incomprehensible differences between contract and domestic. For the entrepreneur, I see great opportunity to profit from a damaged global market, finding gaps, but the ‘me too’ companies will only be able to compete on price for everdecreasing returns. In some ways, the industry did this to itself by offering too much generic commodity product. However, a more competitive arena will filter the movers and groovers and is good for the consumer. It also means companies have to work harder and be smarter. For a designer this is great as it means more challenging briefs. We will see companies doing what they know, but also risk-takers looking for new territories. Let’s celebrate the latter and hope it happens.
Luke Pearson, Director, Pearson Lloyd


This is a very difficult question to answerin the current climate, as things change every week. Having said that, here are 11 things I’d like to see happen in 2011.
1 More lovely work from new studios.
2 Good designers leaving college and getting decent jobs.
3 Designers enjoying it all more. We do have a lovely job and often we forget to appreciate it (me included).
4 An end to free pitches. They devalue what we do.
5 Clients valuing the work that we all do.
6 Designers valuing good clients (too often overlooked).
7 Fewer mental deadlines and more time to consider projects.
8 Budgets increasing to a more reasonable level.
9 More rosters like the British Heart Foundation and Land Securities ones – collaborative and rewarding for all.
10 More collaborative, cross-agency projects.
11 England winning the Rugby World Cup.
Jim Sutherland, Creative director, Hat-Trick Design


1 Austerity demands authenticity.
2 Provide space for retail escapism.
3 Service, knowledge and passion, counter e-tail with inspiring real-tail.
4 Carefully selected, ethically sourced and creatively presented product.
5 Rediscover an authentic heritage.
6 Deliver appropriate design, using quality materials.
7 Craft x technology = quality and longevity, not throwaway.
8 Sustainable as standard – source, upcycle, recycle.
9 Vintage, kitsch and ornament add emotional attachment.
10 Humour and whimsy lighten the doom and gloom.
11 Discovery rather than hype builds ownership and loyalty.
12 Be resourceful and agile when things get tough.
13 Anarchic creativity generates innovation.
14 Friends, family and home comforts – true values.
15 Inner city neighbourhoods – avoid the shed mentality.
16 Don’t embrace the Memphis retrospective.
Phil Dolman and Lesley Batchelor, Co-founders, Studio DB


This voxpop will sit alongside ones from other talented people – and therein lies the challenge. There’s too many of us in it on this tiny island. The rules of supply and demand dictate that growth will be difficult at both ends of the size spectrum, compounded by a Western downturn, desperate business practices and the demands of important brands. Soon, our industry could start returning to the (hi-tech) cottage from whence it came – or the scrap heap. Unless, we stand up for who we are: great, British designers offering a world-class skill, not a cheap service. Those that build their businesses on great ideas and professionalism will get through tough times. They know that their future can only be a global one, exporting great creativity and valuable IP for brands that don’t see borders as barriers to the best consultancy available worldwide.
Jonathan Ford, Creative partner, Pearlfisher


Don’t be fooled by all the good news
coming from Government. Despite the recent wave of street parties for students and swathes of public-sector workers expecting extended holidays, the international economic recovery is still fragile. Armies of Asian designers with no little talent and names like Apollo, Merlyn and Hilda still improve and original equipment manufacturer products from the East will continue to get better. How, then, can the Western design community continue to bring value to brand-owners and manufacturers? True creativity, new ideas, not derivations, and design as part of a long-term plan are the way forward. For us, product design must continue to develop as a sophisticated business tool, connecting the gap between brand and consumer, fully embedded into a business strategy. And I predict Apple will win a D&AD Award.
Peter Tennent, Director, Factory Design


For us 2011 will be a really exciting year.
As one of the key outtakes from the world retail conference was ’the world is digital until you walk into a store’, 2011 will be the year of integration. All the projects we have been developing for delivery in 2011, working with clients in Asia, Europe and the US, have a digitally integrated strategy. Smartphones and their apps are becoming ubiquitous, and 4G, multi-touch, gesture and the proliferation of fast, cheap, but reliable technology means retail can go digital and social in store. Tying f-commerce, m-commerce and s-commerce into clients’ stores will happen across the globe as more brands start the journey to delivering greater return on investment. Asia is way ahead in the planning of this. This will be the year high street retail hooks up with consumers’ connected lives and changes forever.
David Judge, Co-founder, Judge Gill

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