The stilbüro bora.herke.palmisano
Under what circumstances and why do trends prevail? And how do they develop in the first place? Who makes them ? And how does a trend translate into a development capable of being exploited commercially? All questions of central importance to future development. Style experts Claudia Herke, Cem Bora and Annetta Palmisano with their style bureau bora.herke.palmisano make it their business to keep their fingers on the pulse of the times and to develop style worlds based on their findings – inter alia for consumer goods fairs such as Christmasworld, Paperworld and Ambiente.
: Please introduce your company briefly and explain to our readers what it is that you do.
bhp: Our task is to investigate and analyse future consumer behaviour and gauge which inspiring designs and brands are the ones currently setting the tone. If the same or similar developments in surfaces, designs or forms are encountered time and again, this testifies to the existence of a trend. We then recommend particular products based on it. For Messe Frankfurt’s consumer goods trade fairs, we develop style worlds illustrating the colours and points of contentual emphasis that exemplify the various trends. The trend shows at the trade fairs afford an overview of new products and style-defining designs within the context of the stated trends. These provide trade visitors with clear guidance. In addition to information about trends, they can find inspiration in them for their own ranges as well as ideas for decorating their product presentations.
: How do you detect trends and what is the task of trend research?
We derive our trend forecasts from the latest developments in fashion, architecture and product design. We research and analyse the relevant content for the individual trade fairs and their various sectors and retailer target groups. This is very important and forms the core of our work on trends: naming visions and drawing attention to inspiring ideas, whilst at the same time remaining very close to the products themselves.
: What role does internationality play ? Have trends become more international ?
Internationality plays a role to the extent that in the Internet age we naturally conduct worldwide research. It is of no initial importance from which countries exemplary designers or projects originate; it is the content and significance of the projects that matter. In many of the designs and products to which we draw attention, however, cultural references and origins do play an important role – especially since the hyper-local is becoming increasingly important in design.
The internationality of the research is best illustrated by the design schools, the projects of which are as diverse and multicultural as the work of the students at attending them worldwide. Whether it’s Eindhoven (NL), New York (USA) or Lausanne (CH) – the works presented at the termly exhibitions are frequently imbued with the cultures of origin and backgrounds of their creators. At the academies, students from China, New York, Japan, Switzerland, Mexico and Germany come together, which gives rise to a highly inspiring symbiosis in which creative ideas, identities and visions mingle and bear fruit.
And at the end of the day, that’s also what an international trade fair is all about: the diversity and vitality of its exchanges.
: Has anything changed in recent years in the fields of trend development and identification? Have they become faster moving or more differentiated? Are there still such things as overarching trends ? What in this context are the roles of social media and influencers?
The variety and the possibilities for getting information are immense. All the greater, then, the need for focus and structure. Amid the boundless and often daunting variety of products on offer, the provision of structured and relevant orientation is enormously helpful for the market – especially for the buyers and industry insiders who flock to our trade fairs – and its value should not be underestimated. Of course, the lockdown and the exceptional circumstances of the last two years have proved challenging, and the methodology of our research necessarily has had to adapt accordingly.
Our first step was to focus on thematic frameworks heavily oriented towards social developments and the handling of the pandemic. How would social anxieties as well as climate and environmental issues find expression in the design of living spaces and in product design? We needed to find answers to these central questions at a time when the most important and influential trade fair venues for the world of design had of necessity to remain closed.
In addition to the campaigns of big-name furniture manufacturers and the industrial and product designs of well-known designers, we looked even more closely at the makers, at young design studios and ateliers as well as at galleries whose exhibition concepts form the interface between art and design. The artists and designers featured there showed an additional and new facet. We looked, too, at design experiments, production techniques, material research and innovative product developments beyond the large furniture and product industry as well, of course, as at start-ups, design schools and academies, which continue to provide exciting and fresh impulses.
Social media also offer another way of perusing the world’s showcases: by following the live streams and hearing the views of the individual bloggers and trade visitors in attendance. Here, of course, a great deal of selectivity is called for in assessing the relevance of the information content.
But regardless of the nature of the research work, we are delighted that at last physical trade fairs are due to be staged again in the autumn. And, of course, we are particularly looking forward to January and February 2022, when we will be able once more to showcase the trends at Messe Frankfurt events. There is no substitute for the positive energy, the encounters and the concentration of tangible information afforded by the experience of attending such events in the flesh. There can be no doubt that this is something that has been sorely missed.
: To what extent can trends be assessed in terms of their commercial viability and how – in view of lengthening lead times in product development – is it possible to incorporated trends into products at all?
To answer this question, we have to take a close look at the function trends have to perform: their role is to inform us of the wider currents in society and their consequences for consumer behaviour.
This is where we find a common thread for the various trade shows. However, the different focal points of each trade show are already evidenced by the composition of their respective colour worlds. We research the relevant content in a very targeted manner and interpret and weight our findings to reflect the different and divergent needs of the individual markets.
The trend statement looks at new movements and presents projects representative of them, along with their makers, as well as reporting on product innovations and new designers. In this way, individual producers can find content they can utilize in their own collections as well as suggestions as to how colours, shapes, surfaces and designs can be used in a coherent way.
: What megatrends are you seeing at the moment?
Whether the megatrend is New Work, Neo-ecology, Individualization or Urbanization, all the trends are characterized by visionary ideas, the discovery of new designers, sustainability, closeness to nature and respect for tradition. In these times, people want to reconnect with continuities – such as the temporary deceleration or the recommitment to the regional and to nature that was already one of our themes last season. What this means is that we will continue to keep an eye on people’s needs and moods and interpret them in a way that is adapted to the various target groups of trade buyers at the Christmasworld, Paperworld, Creativeworld and Ambiente trade fairs.
: The bora.herke.palmisano style agency is active across all sectors. Do the trends prevailing in the various sectors differ at all?
An interior trend developed for an Ambiente can be transferred to a product world based around dining, living and giving and, by extension, gastronomy, the hotel business, tableware, jewellery, wellness etc. The range of products on show at Ambiente is vast, which is precisely why it requires a trend statement of its own that appeals to the widest variety of trade buyers.
Paperworld focuses on paper goods, school supplies, greeting cards – all things related to stationery and, in addition, the huge needs of the office sector, which is currently dealing with the omnipresent subject of remote work. Christmasworld, on the other hand, is much more decorative; there we also cover the diverse market for year-round festivities, whereas Creativeworld in principle reflects a subset of the trends; from this it is not possible to project wider design currents. Where inspiration for the DIY sector is concerned, there it is all about the handmade and handcrafted, and the appeal is to a completely different target group.
The trade fairs offer their respective trade visitors professional expertise and variety, and the trend statements are directed to precisely the same goal. By combining a strong visual language with concrete data, we can speak to producers as well as subsequently to trade visitors, providing them with guidance and valuable information for their product development and purchasing.
: Do you think we will see the same frantic hyping of new products in the future and will there be the same profusion of new products every year? Or will the pandemic and the sustainability debate bring about a change in consumer behaviour?
As has long been the case, what starts off as a trend can often develop over a period of years into something permanent, something that endures. It is precisely these long-term aspects of design that interest us, generally far more than the short-term hyping of novelties, and this was the case, too, even before the pandemic. Especially where these relate to sustainability.
In the early days, the places to look for examples of sustainable products were small design labels and the work of students. Now, we could cite exemplary concepts from major enterprises that provide palpable evidence of the sea change in attitudes that has occurred such as the development of new, sustainable materials from waste in textile production or the movement towards circular production methods and take-back programs.
The vision of design produced without waste will remain aspirational. And the quest will continue to raise awareness among shoppers of the need to buy not only less but better. New importance no doubt will be attached too to all things local. Such, at least, are our hopes. And it’s our conviction that – despite all that is bad – positive change is still possible.