10 Mar 2021

Insights from the Trend Atelier community

Insights from the Trend Atelier community

We the Trend Atelier Community believe future forecasting is a gateway to critical decision making. We need this skill as a global collective more than ever, for the greater good of the planet & the people. As forecasters, brand owners, consultants, educators, designers, artists, writers and researchers, we take seriously our power to shape society and support each other on this journey.

We must redefine the very foundations of design, supply chains and economies, as well as extract the disposability of things and people we have placed at the core of our culture. Focusing on philosophical innovation as a community has meant we are continuously exploring, discussing and studying, in order to transition from an extractive mindset to a culture of care. As hard as it is for us to navigate uncertainty, by opting for a philosophical questioning, we believe we are activating and shaping systemic change.

 

A BRIEF FOR DESIGNERS OF OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURES

By Tina Gorjanc – Speculative Designer – Trend Atelier Community member -  London UK & Portland USA

When plastic was invented, it solved a particular and prominent design problem: providing the world with a material that is easy to produce and manipulate, is affordable to the consumer and lasts a long time. It revolutionised the world and facilitated the progression of innovation, science and technology. This material innovation, in turns, has completely changed our societal values, beliefs and rituals.

But today it is the bane of our existence. Based on this past reference, one might be inclined to think such mistakes will be easily avoidable in the future. Today, we promote the development of biodegradable, renewable resource-based and recycled materials with the good intention of investing in our plant’s future. Innovation incubators and grant-funding accelerators are full of innovative and technologically advanced substitutes and alternatives to the less green, or in some case not green at all, primordial options. And while I want to be excited about the fast-producing rate of those materials and therefore advancement in achieving the perfect fill-ins, a contradictory thought slowly creeps in me: Do we actually need all this stuff?

It turns out we are still tackling the problem with the obsolete and narrow-minded problem-solving approach, where the problem’s environment hinders the implementation of any type of systemic change. 

So with my design researcher hat on, I have come to think that we are actually responding to the wrong design brief and therefore are dooming the proposed solutions ineffective straight from their origin. What if, instead of proposing material-based solutions that have been forcibly translated to fit the new and greener capitalistic-based values, the design focus is shifted towards re-designing our values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour? As I think about this task in its monumental propositions, I quickly become less precious about my design title and am happy to democratise it for the cause. And I have a brief for all of the designers of our collective futures: How can we transition from a Growth First to an Earth First Logic?

References:

 

THE STORY OF STUFF

By Gemma Hardy Designer and Researcher  – Trend Atelier Community member - London UK

Vincent Stanley, Company Philosopher at Patagonia stated at the recent Vogue Business online event “Is positive consumption event possible?”: “We need to change the emotional connection of clothing with the customer to the ownership not the initial consumption; the experiences it has had.” A slower lifestyle accentuated by the global pandemic has changed our perception and value of objects. Helped by new digital platforms the ‘RE-SELL’ market is growing at an unprecedented rate with big names such as Cos, Gucci and Levi’s leading the way. Whilst this is great news for sustainability, it is still in line with the current demand of newness and constant replacement.

There is quieter way to ‘RE-USE’ our clothing – ‘REPAIR’. Patagonia, a prime example whose garments have a lifetime guarantee and offer a free fixing service. Driven by a sustainability agenda, the majority of their customers are outdoor enthusiasts so have an invested interest in protecting the natural environment. In my research I came across an article written by Mila Burcikova about the award-winning short film ‘Desula’ by Andrea Pecora. It offers a very different narrative on repair and longevity; that a highly personal item such as clothing can have an emotional attachment and can acquire value and meaning if repaired and kept, allowing them the time to tell our life stories. The film pays homage to an almost extinct Sardinian dress tradition. When the women in the village of Desulo reached their teenage years, they would make one dress that they would then wear all their life. The dresses of Desulo women were mirrors of their lives. The mundane and the extraordinary, the happy and the sad, and everything in between, all unfolded through repeated cycles of making, tending, repairs, additions, and natural dyeing processes.

This idea is also reflected in the views of Dutch designer Marcel Wanders who exhibited a plastic water bottle that he used for three months at the Plastic Masters exhibition in Milan. Similar to the Desulo tradition, the bottle begins to tell a story, “For three months the bottle was with me everywhere,” Wanders said. He recognises that most things we throw away are just because we are fed up with them.

So maybe it is reversing this psychology of wanting constant ‘stuff’ that marks the real change we need?

References:

 

BEING IN THE POSSIBILITY OF CHANGE

By Rachael Taylor, Fashion Artist and Senior Lecturer in Fashion Design and Communication – Trend Atelier Community member - Brighton UK

The word philosophy originates from the Greek - Philo (love) and Sophia (wisdom), defined as love of wisdom. Asking the bigger existential questions; Why, what is, is? Socrates was a man dedicated to a life of questioning and believed everything was a question. Socratic questioning focuses on discovering answers by asking questions. Lani Watson, Philosopher based at University of Edinburgh, researches the practice of questioning. Her special interest is the way we use questions to learn. She stated, “a question is an act…seeking out information in order to decide how to act.” We are at global cross-roads of questioning together, hearts and minds, at the tipping point of co-creating the future. Dialogue can be seen as a key interactive process here, as it promotes transformation and collaboration, a tool for societal change. Freire’s Theory of Dialogic Action links with the permanent condition of becoming. (1970). When we are continuously in dialogue with others, it is in that process we create and recreate ourselves.

The philosophy of shared conversations, that have no ends or edges but unwind through looped innovations across generations, time, and built collaboratively globally.  Questions and answers overlap, unfold, respond to what is and continue to evolve. This represents the lifecycle of thoughts and how in each moment, begin again, continuing to breathe new life in combined ideas, as ongoing, collaborative translations and transformations.

WE are all innovating, all of the time. Just as a conversation weaves new threads, combined collaborations open up new possibilities and philosophers ponder on questions of what is and what could be. The next big innovation will involve all of us, each starting with a question, as we transition from what was, to a future of what could be. Replacing the I with the WE. … “We have to let go of who we are, to become what we might be.” Lau Tzu

References:

 

EMPATHIC SURVIVAL

By Patrick James Almera – Forecaster, Architect and Interior Designer – Trend Atelier Community member - Manila Philippines

Survival, well-being, and sustainability are independent concepts that create an impact individually. These, however, when merged as part of an idea to further develop metaphysical and theoretical awareness, can create a hybrid concept for greater innovation. This generation is fuelled by desire and inception influenced by physical and mental chaos due to the sudden global fallout of 2020. We are mandated to stay indoors consequently creating no boundaries with work and pleasure. These affect how we live, like balancing our time and daily routines. We are living in hyper-safe environments and sanitized spaces, yet, we neglect the reality that being in a bubble and staying hyper-connected through technology are not enough to provide us with enough “nutrients” to survive. As demonstrated in the latest Marvel series, WandaVision, having extreme control will only make you lose control — what more if we have powerful technology to actually gain control. 

Empathy is deeply rooted in emotions and mentality. We feel less human every day because we lack the authenticity in organic interaction and higher awareness of our kind. Philosophical ideas of empathic survival could be the key to unlocking and creating emotional ties with our physical and metaphysical worlds. Nowadays, many designers have ventured towards virtual design, creating escapist worlds to dream and to feel at peace with ourselves. These designs represent surrealism in the virtual world, but how long will this last? As much as we want to prepare for a future that could promote untouched realities — by creating barriers in the physical world, the next innovation must focus on the philosophical idea of avoiding numbness; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

How do we plan a sustainable future through productive and advanced technology without having to sacrifice the complexity of human needs? How can we promote unfiltered and authentic wellness without the need for social media? At this point, innovation towards creating a hybrid connection between the digital and physical needs to more philosophical than technological, and the implications of empathy & metaphysics are misunderstood.

References:

 

SPECULATIVE FUTURE FOR THE FASHION INDUSTRY: FRAGMENTATION AND REDEFINITION OF INSTITUTIONS

By Koura Rosy Kane – Trend Forecaster, Researcher and Stylist –  Trend Atelier Community member - Dakar Senegal & Paris France

As the fashion industry is evolving alongside  society itself, the changes we are going to notice in social structure will also occur in the fashion system – even though the shifts will come later on. Hence, since our society is evolving into a more fragmented form, the notion of community (or sub-group) is at the centre of this dynamic.

In terms of fashion it implies that we need to think more about niche than mass. The defragmentation of the fashion market is going to increase in the next few years and it goes along with the change of perception when it comes to collective communities. It would not be about having the last ‘it –bag’ anymore but more about having a sense of belonging to a group and expressing it through clothes.

Nowadays, the act of buying is also an act of activism. Therefore, consumption has become a way to express our commitments and values shared between the members of a specific group. The consciousness that comes with the act of buying is shifting the way we see and approach fashion and brands. Today it is more about identity and commitments than following ephemeral trends.

The next big innovation will be the institutionalisation of inclusivity, diversity and sustainability. In the near future, the fashion system will have a proper organisation aimed to regulate the missteps of the actors of this industry. The culture of accountability will be legitimate and become a norm as it will go with the growing desire to build a market in line with different social realities and experiences. This institutionalisation of the core values will lead to new innovative forms and solutions which benefit social justice and sustainability.

References:

 

THE TREND ATELIER COMMUNITY FUTURE FORECASTING WORKSHOP

 

 

Read more from the Trend Atelier Takeover: 


 

Collage by Geraldine Wharry
 

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