Design industry predictions for 2014 – part one

In the first part of our series of design industry predictions for 2014, leading industry figures tell us what they think will happen in branding, graphics and illustration, interactive, product and financial performance.


Simon Manchipp

Visually: The March of Mobile: brand designers will increasingly need the magnifying glasses out to create crafted and elegant solutions for smaller screens. Just as album covers shrunk from 12” vinyl to 12mm boxes on iTunes the visual platform for a brand is the new shrinky-dink. Strategically: Demand for significant programmes of change that lift an organisation, product or service to a new business level, rather than simply lift the face. The logo designer will continue to find the phone ringing less and less. Socially: The rise of mass customer-powered customisation — Twitter, Facebook, Weibo are not fads… they shape the way brands operate and will build from asking what people think, to using personal public data to give people what they love. Politically: The great power-cut. After an attack on banks the energy companies are next on the list. Expect gas, electricity and water brands to get a kicking and respond with a raft of softly-softly brand activity. Digital: Everything as a service. Forget ownership. Access is what we’ll see more of. Music was just the first to switch. Summary: We used to be reverential when it came to brands. We are now referential. Trust is eroded, we seek peer reviews, on and offline, before we commit to anything from banking to bags, bread to bass, bowling to bling. The brand ideas we produce tomorrow that can inhabit those conversations, will fuel business success.’

Simon Manchipp, executive creative director, SomeOne

Graphics and illustration

Tom Robinson

‘We’ve seen a growing demand for traditional hand-crafted illustration techniques, including watercolour, ink and pen, which we expect to see continue in 2014. Colour palettes are becoming simplified, with fewer, bolder tones applied. Strong typographic headlines, especially 3D rendered, are also becoming dominant in all types of media, from magazine covers to large outdoor media.’

Tom Robinson, co-founder, Handsome Frank


Andy Budd

‘Flat design emerged as a big trend for 2013 and there’s no sign of it abating. One of the drawbacks of flat design is the removal of common cues or “affordances” that imply interaction. Combine this with the lack of real estate on most smartphone displays—which necessitates a lot of hidden functionality—and you’re left with users frantically jabbing or swiping the screen in the hope that something reacts. To get around these issues, animation is going to play an increasing role in the interaction designer’s toolkit. Animation can achieve this by showing users where hidden information lives, what elements on a screen can be interacted with, and what actions are permissible next. However we’re talking very subtle and purposeful animations, rather than the excesses of the Flash community. Facebook helped legitimise this trend by famously building the Facebook Home prototype in Quartz Composer. So I expect to see a lot of interaction designers exploring traditional and not-so-traditional animation tools in 2014. I know we have been, to very positive effect.’

Andy Budd, founding partner and chief executive, Clearleft


Rowan Williams

‘2014 will see the real upsurge and implementation of the cloud and the “air” product. The accelerating layout of infrastructure and uptake of ultra-high speed networks will inevitably open exciting opportunities for an enhanced “always-on” society and see the realisation of revolutionary interconnectivity. Devices will be increasingly reliant on the cloud’s power (remote processing, storage etc.) and the role of the coder in product design will be ever more important. They are the future engineers. You’d currently associate 4G and the cloud with your mobile devices. But just imagine how your day could be enhanced by everyday products being able to talk to each other wherever you are and whenever you want. This was concept, now it is really a reality. In 2014, the Cloud really could make a storm.’

Rowan Williams, designer, SeymourPowell

Financial Performance

Esther Carder

‘2014 is likely to be another tough year for design. A recent survey that we published, The Financial Performance of Marketing Services Companies, highlights a reduced fee-income per head. It also shows that a greater proportion of fee income is being spent on staff costs. This, combined with the usual post-recession pressure on salaries, could see staff costs rise even further. On top of this, consultancies are having to deal with the demands of the ever-changing digital landscape. As we know, the individuals with expertise in these areas come at a price; they are often freelance, which means they cost even more. This will only exacerbate the problem. Consultancies have spent the last few years trimming non-staff costs as much as they can, so I doubt there is much room to make further savings to compensate. In light of this, directors will need to make sure they find the best way to pass on any increased staff costs to clients.’

Esther Carder, partner, Kingston Smith W1

You can read the second part of our 2014 design predictions series, covering retail and customer experience, interiors, exhibition and packaging design here.

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