The M.I.A. Predictions

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by: C. Sven Johnson

I’m not much for official predictions, so I won’t bother to make any
such announcements here. From my perspective, most people posting
prediction lists haven’t really given those predictions sufficient
thought and are either doing it because everyone else is (which is
somewhat at odds with making worthwhile predictions in the first place,
afaic) and/or because they think it’ll drive traffic to their website
(which again plays to the “color inside the lines” crowd mentality).

What I do find somewhat interesting is that while there appear to be
a significant number of across-the-board predictions for virtual
worlds, I haven’t come across a single industry prediction for Industrial Design.

Sure, there are pseudo design-as-innovation predictions (e.g. Nussbaum’s “Innovation Predictions for 2008″ – Link) and design-related consumer trend predictions (e.g. Trendwatching’s “8 trends to make the most of 2008″ – Link), but where are the practical ID predictions?

Where is the discussion about the future of the profession
– besides the occasional papers being requested for submission, which
will then almost certainly get locked behind a pay-to-read wall (e.g. Inderscience Publishers)?

What I’m talking about is the kind of speculation I made a few years back on the Core77 forum (Link):

Theres an argument for two kinds of IDer: those that
exist in big corp product machines, pumping out cell phone give-aways
to entice people to sign service contracts; and those that address the
more fickle and competitive niche markets too small for the
corporations to care about.

I just don’t see those kinds of conversations or predictions making
the rounds at a time of the year when I should expect a few. I looked,
but I can’t find them. Not on the Core77 “industrial design supersite”
homepage (though they have decent retrospective – Link – I guess looking back is more important than looking forward). Not in any ID forums of which I’m aware. And not on any blogs I’ve surfed.

At most I see an occasional article during the whole year. And those, like the Forbes piece “Ten Industrial Design Trends You Can’t Ignore” (Link)
from last August, includes what seems to me are self-serving
speculation… which is arguably counter-productive. For example, in that
article, Ziba’s Steve McCallion saying he expects an eventual “mass
customization backlash”. Right. That sounds like frogdesign’s Ralston
focusing on selling their “thing” service (reLink) and glossing over the rest. This kind of stuff doesn’t help the profession. If anything, it hurts.

It seems odd to me that a group so much at the mercy of
technological, social and economic change should seem like it’s inside
some kind of oblivious bubble; at least here in the U.S. (the Europeans
certainly seem to be more savvy to the changes).

If the predictions for which I’m searching are out there, it’d be
nice to know about them. Feel free to drop a comment with a link. It’ll
certainly be appreciated. And unexpected.

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