Design in 2018 – what will product design look like?

As part of our series on the future of design in 2018, Kingfisher design director Theo Williams looks at what will happen in product design over the next 12 months.

What do you think 2018 will hold for product design?

As in 2017, technology will continue to drive innovation, with the launch of more smart materials and connected devices. 3D printing will also become more integrated within the domestic market, but technology and material innovations will depict the form, use and function of products. I think the most impactful change in 2018 will come from rethinking the relationship between objects and users. Product designers, manufacturers, brands and retailers will influence the market by listening very closely and directly to users, researching personal or tailored devices, and using this insight to create even better products. Many new technologies have been used to create products trying to solve a problem that does not exist in the first place. They have been designed simply because new technology exists, rather than being rooted in a specific consumer need.

What was your favourite product design project in 2017?

In terms of branded furniture and homeware launches, 2017 was a quiet year. For example, the installations at the furniture fair at Milan Design Week were far more impressive than some of the products. My favourite products are always those that are hidden away and you use unconsciously; design that is beautifully engineered rather than purely aesthetic. If I had to pick one design I liked it would be the Muji Hut, a simple cabin that suits a wide variety of locations and is somewhere between a permanent residence and a holiday home.

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