2015 Industrial Design Trends

Design Trends 2014Feel free to download an 11×17″ version of our trend board: Design Trends 2015 11x17_

As 2014 has come to a close, the industrial design team has taken some time to think about what will shape 2015.  We’ve put together a guide with four movements we think will play an increasing role in the designed world we’re surrounded by.  The four we’ve picked are: Algorthmic, Material Mashup, Unplugged, and Soft Modernism.  Movements like these don’t materialize out of nowhere, they’re responses to environmental, technological, and cultural shifts.

ALGORITHMIC // Design thinking has made the connection with serious data processing and translation capability.  Designers have long since been inspired by the complex patterns of nature, but rarely have had the ability to draft and build those types of structures.  Now that CAD can assist with the heavy lifting of the design planning & built output, it’s more feasible to explore that territory.  Tools like MIT’s Processing, an open source code built for the electronic arts, has created a new class of designer-programmer hybrids that are pushing the role of algorithms in art and design.  Currently biomimicry has a strong influence on this trend, but expect more abstraction as things mature.

MATERIAL MASHUP // Maybe you saw the new $400 Air Jordan Shine from Nike?  It’s a great example of Material Mashup- taking familiar archetype (a skateboard, a laptop, high-top sneakers) and rendering it in new and often exotic materials.  By infusing elements of high fashion (like a Bottega Veneta-esqe leather weave), it’s more at home in the board room rather than the court.

This theme plays on contrasts: classic & modern,  hi-brow & low-brow, rough-hewn & polished, etc.  Designers have taken a page from the DJ, blending old beats and hooks into new songs.  The result is something that feels familiar, but has a new energy and identity attached to it.

UNPLUGGED //  While the tech movement is going strong, we all have moments of fatigue in our constantly connected lives.  Unplugged cuts that cord and is a throwback to the nostalgic objects and experiences of the past.  In some ways you could see this as a CMF trend, but it’s deeper than that.  Yes, the material set is focuses on a pre-plastics menu of glass, ceramic, textiles, wood, and metal.  But the core of this trend is taking the time to reconnect with the everyday rituals that existed before the computer age.  This trend has roots in the craft objects of the past- see the Sarpaneva cast iron pot as a prime example.

SOFT MODERNISM // Rationalism and primitives are alive and well in design, but products are starting to take the edge off and provide affordances aimed at improving comfort or achieving a functional goal.  The unibody aluminum MacBook Pro was released in 2008, and the iPhone4 in 2010- two hallmarks that had a strong influence in the ID world, pushing things towards a machined aesthetic.  Soft Modernism carefully adds curve to humanize the object without descending into the arbitrary.

It’s not the first time this trend has surfaced.  After the Germans began to popularize rational, grid-based design that thinking migrated South.  Italian companies like Brionvega and Olivetti (spurred by the talents of Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso) also adopted the grid, but added curves inspired by human anatomy and the space race.

We look forward to another year of creating compelling products and experiences.

Happy 2015 to you and yours!