What’s the Future of Design?

Future of Design
By David Rosen, President, O’More College of Design

The future is here, but we may not notice it. New technologies or trends are invisible unless we are interested. The moment of discovery or recognition may come years after the first elements are all around us.

Why? We develop long-term strategies and tactics from the evidence we receive, and once those strategies and tactics are in place, we stop looking. Even when we do look, we screen out anything we think is irrelevant. And then our world changes.

With that in mind and wanting to help build the future before we are surprised by it, O’More College of Design began a discussion about where the world was trending and how that would impact design. For this conversation we gathered some of the best graphic design professionals in Nashville and mixed them with some professionals in adjacent fields, like architecture. We will add some national minds to the mix as we progress.

We have only met once but some of the trends were interesting.

In the past: designers designed things.
Now: we design experiences and things are part of that.

In the past: designers designed for the producers of the product.
Now: we design for the users of the product.

In the past: designers might have been concerned about appearance.
Now: we are concerned about the core idea or strategy that appearance manifests.

In the past: designers designed for broader markets.
Now: designers design for markets that are more complex and segmented and so design has to be narrow or find strategies to have a wide appeal.

In the past: we thought about the individual as a part of a group of individuals.
Now: we see that everybody, like every body, is different.

In the past: our community stopped close to home.
Now: the world is large, diverse, and complex. It includes global friends that we are happy to have discovered and global neighbors we are nervous to see in our neighborhood.

In the past: our culture was more aural and verbal.
Now: our culture is more visual and nonverbal, and we have become insightful readers of visual messages.

In the past: the designer was THE expert.
Now: everyone is a designer because the tools of design are available to all and lots of people, trained and untrained, participate.

In the past: design was slow, both in process and iteration.
Today: design is as fast as fast foods.

In the past: design was connected with materiality and the materials were often cheap and ephemeral.
Now: design is heavily virtual. When design is material, it has to be of greater quality.

Now: in a virtual world, experience has become important, as has making, craft, and artisanal processes and products.

Now: people pursue new social technologies that connect them more intimately—moving from phone to email to text to Snapchat to produce stronger intimacy in a virtual form.

Now: process is winning over product—the process endures and is improved as the product is discarded in each iteration. The product is the real ephemera. The process is the constant.

If you could pick the future of design from some of these trends that were discussed, what would that look like?

As a designer noted correctly—before you can see order you need to create disorder. As the opening says, what we are looking for is here already, but if we don’t disrupt our current selection of what to see, we won’t find it. There will be more chaos before we get to clarity. But I think we can already begin to find that the new is emerging from these trends.

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