Design industry predictions for 2013 – part one

In the first part of our series of design industry predictions for 2013, leading industry figures tell us what they think will happen in branding, graphics, interactive, product and financial performance.


Greg Quinton

‘I’m hoping for a reaction to 2012. Lets face it, terrible market conditions and cautious clients led (with a few exceptions) to a year to forget in branding terms. 2013 feels slightly more optimistic. It should be the year when there is a rediscovery for expressing brands… with personality, confidence and even fun? The global brightest spots of Asia and South America should kick-start the UK market into action. It will start with the important (but less controversial) steps of customer experience, engagement and digital projects. The accumulation of which will give confidence to brands to be bolder. It will take a few months, but the right combination of consultancy and client will both take a chance and deliver a big, bold idea to lead the way. On the consultancy side, there will be one last black-and-white identity. Designers might finally realise that the ’80s are so last century and affordable technology (3D printers for instance) will provide inspiration away from the old conventions. All we need to do now is convince some slightly braver clients to come and play.’

Greg Quinton, executive creative director, The Partners


Chris Harrison

‘Unless I’ve missed something, 2013 will require less use of red, white and blue. There’s a Royal baby on the way, so maybe we’ll see more use of baby pink and/or baby blue. China is going to the moon (unmanned) which could prompt a revival of the most excellent, and very underrated, space font Data70. Here’s hoping anyway. I also predict the beginnings of the end for design porn blogs. They’ve reached saturation point and are too easy to dip into for a bit of quick and dirty inspiration. Everyone knows you get inspiration on a bus or in the bath or at an art gallery… and not from a design blog. That’s called copying.’

Chris Harrison, creative director, Harrison and Co


Matt Wade

‘I think we’re going to see a lot of physical computing projects, for two reasons. Firstly, Kickstarter launching in the UK means ideas will rapidly become products. And secondly because advertising and branding agencies are increasingly banging their heads against the internet until an idea falls out that’s different, innovative and “connects” with people. More and more I think they’ll propose vacuously branded “things” to their clients. Lastly, I think there will be a big increase in effects created from real-time computation that are filmed in one take and presented as real. Probably shot on 4K cameras, explicitly moving away from the ubiquity of the Cannon 5D.’

Matt Wade, partner, Kin


Matthew Cockerill

‘How consumers think about and use their products will continue to change in 2013. With the omni-presence of smart phones many products are going to have to be designed from the ground up to work as part of a product + smartphone + app environment. With consumers’ desire to not just be sold a product, but be part of the process, products will have to be increasingly more responsive, configurable, updatable and hackable. 2013 will also see the continued rise of the consumer-creator culture. Many of the tools we professionals use for design and production are now available and accessible to consumers. Rather like the effect the desktop publishing revolution of the ’80s had on graphic design it will be interesting to see how it changes the way we think about product design and the good and the bad that results.

Matthew Cockerill, associate design director, Seymour Powell

Financial performance

Esther Carder

‘2013 is likely to continue to be a tough year for design agencies, particularly with no quadrennial events to boost income. But still, the causalities of the recession remain fairly few in number compared to what they might have been. That has been down to how the management of agencies have dealt with the situation, restructuring their businesses to deal with the pressure on fee income. Surprisingly, however, margins are not much lower than they were pre-recession – the difference is that  designers are having to run an awful lot faster to achieve those margins. Unfortunately this is likely to be the case for a while to come yet!’

Esther Carder, partner, Kingston Smith W1

• You can read the second part of our 2013 predictions series, covering retail, editorial, exhibition, furniture and packaging design, here.

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