Trends in the design field

Dick van Dijk

At the second Design Research HotPot at Favela Fabric, 18 industrial designers, design researchers, concept developers and other design professionals discussed the trends in their field and what role design research can play in it. From a vast amount of identified trends, five subjects were chosen that all participants felt strongly about, being: ‘the aging society’, ‘working in networks’, ‘transparancy’, ‘privacy’ and ‘reorganize’.

In groups the subjects were further explored: what is this about, on what levels is this relevant (personal, social, professional), what are the optimal conditions and unforeseeable traps, what methods do design researchers have to gain more insight. Of course, three hours is hardly suffiecient to get to the bottom of all of these issues, but we started some interesting discussions that will be prolonged separately.

Especially the organiser of this HotPot edition, Favela Fabric – specialized in social business design, experiences that a lot of their commissioners are reorganizing their activities, in which they play a role in communication and the facilitation of processes. But other participants were also very busy in reinventing themselves or their agency. The case that Favela Fabric selected challenged the HotPot participants to look at organisations that constantly change. Not only because of the worldwide crises, but also due to a growing pressure from competitors. A structural consequence is reorganization, resulting in a stronger internal focus of companies, uncertainty (for employees) and management facing an additional role.

In many of the projects of Waag we see an interesting tension emerging between privacy and transparancy. On the one hand, citizens are demanding more transparancy and openness from both the government and the business world, on the other hand everyone acknowledges the need for a 'right to keep (things) a secret'. We also see that people are willing to give up privacy in exchange for certain services. Think about the excepting of (non-functional) cookies at the moment. The HotPot participants are as design researchers interested in the deeper needs and fears when it comes to making data public and want to help companies to get insight in the issues. Creative thinkers can play a role in making tools and scenarios for a more transparent society, where people can experience a better feeling of being in control.

About the author

  • Dick van Dijk is creative director and head of programme at Waag.