Design must acknowledge consumers’ real needs

I was very interested to read your Trends prediction a key part of future business? piece (News, DW 16 October) as I have been running LifeModes, a future-focused insight programme for Pearlfisher for the past four years. But I’d just like to take issue with several aspects of the article.

We all know that the game of futurology can be enormous fun – getting excited about all the things we might do one day with the scientific advances on the horizon. But we need only look at 20-year-old sci-fi to realise how ridiculous visions of the future can look in retrospect – where was miniaturisation in the 1970s?

The other thing I take umbrage with is the notion that because something is technically possible, consumers will actually want it. Need I draw your attention to the fact that when billions were being heaped into Wap and 3G, a quiet consumer-led revolution was taking place in the form of the mobile phone text message?

And that really does bring me back to my main point. ‘Prediction’ is the way forward for the industry. Design is, undoubtedly, an intrinsically future-focused medium, but please, let us not forget who we are actually designing for. This is about consumers, not peer adulation. ‘Tomorrow’ is not a different place, just the same set of human truths dressed in the veneer of future desirability.

The answer for any design consultancy interested in the future is to focus on people, consumers, call them what you will, to base your ideas on real needs and never look beyond the next five years.

Mark Rodgers

LifeModes director


London W11

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