“The only constant is change, but change has never happened this fast before, and will never happen this slow again,” said Antonia Ward in her opening remarks at the first Decoded Future summit in New York organized by Stylus. None of us are safe from change and during this day of learning, networking, and inspiration, we were invited to keep an open mind while we futuregaze. Here are the 8 areas in which innovation will affect major change in 2019:
We are living in an age when 75 percent of children believe Alexa always tells the truth, according to data provided by MIT, but humans, not about to be outsmarted, are taking back control. While artificial intelligence will integrate itself further into our lives, the human approach will win out. In May, London’s Barbican gallery will stage a major exhibit displaying cutting-edge research projects and immersive installations from around the world entitled “AI: More Than Human”, exploring the evolution of the relationship between AI and man, provoking and influencing the global conversation.
Next year, brands will embrace therapeutic colors within services, spaces and products. Flynn Talbot’s rainbow installation designed to communicate feelings of love and tolerance in anyone who touches it; Co-nekt’s Color Energy Hub designed to offer the ultimate in relaxation; and color-led multilayered experiences such as Nimesha Ranasinghe’s bluetooth-enabled cocktail glass which stimulates the taste buds, mimicking sweet and savory flavors are indicators of how brands will adopt a sensory sales approach across the board.
People are increasingly chasing multisensory experiences that enhance their wellbeing, increase their sense of belonging, and offer an exhilarating escape from digital overload. Brands are beginning to recapture weakened consumer connections through multisensory stimuli that ground consumers in brand moments
Sustainability goes mainstream
With worst-case scenario now inevitable, a succession of recent rulings has set the tone for retail trends: California becoming first state to be free of plastic straws; last week’s E.U. announcement on the ban of single use plastic; polystyrene being banned in New York. The launch of Pluumo, a sustainable thermal packaging using surplus feathers by start-up Aeropowder, and furniture swap model of 57st design which allows you to exchange big home purchases when your lifestyle changes emphasizes a circular approach to consumerism as 2019 will see us unlock the value of the pre-owned and lived-in product. Jessica Alba’s Honest Co. just received $200 million investment from private equity firm, L Catterton, solidifying the brand’s status in the beauty and personal care arena. The onus for responsible consumption will fall less on the consumer and more on brands to consider how they can enable their customers to shift their behavior.
2019 is about the elimination of the feelings of isolation brought on by our increased digital use and will be the year for reconnection. Collaborations will blossom between likeminded creatives working in traditional, nearly extinct crafts such as the positive-impact luxury vision of the Maiyet Collective, or Elvis & Kresse’s rug-making using reclaimed materials.
Brands finally wake up to the fact that everyone is unique. Influencers such as Aaron Philip will be prominent, and brands like IKEA are already leading the way for its reframing of disability as expertise––their thinking that no one could be more expert on ergonomics that someone who spends all day in a wheelchair will have far-reaching effects. Hearing aids become fashionable, acquiring the aesthetics of fine earrings. The Fenty effect which transformed the beauty industry leading to unprecedented color options for the face, will evolve for 2019 and will go beyond the face, to the inside. Boots recent faceless ad campaign emphasized how products should make us feel. Frustrated African American MIT graduate, Joy Buolamwini, formed the Algorithmic Justice League to tackle biased artificial intelligence after facial recognition programs failed to detect her, unless she put on a white mask.
Next year will be about redefining male strength and identity as the whole idea of manhood is being dismantled. Bonobos’s Evolve the Definition campaign lays the groundwork, and the short film “A Man Like You” from shaving brand, Harry’s.
Storytelling to story living
2019 will connect the virtual and the physical for more powerful personal engagement. The LiveCGX Catwalk combined human models with CGI extras and Amazon Sumerian allows virtual reality to be available for all via an app. Hyperrealities will forge thrilling new allegiances between formerly disconnected industries bringing cutting edge cinematic experiences into the brand domain.
New space-age thinking
Radical resource-friendly design will be at the forefront of innovation as Gen X and Gen Alpha will view space travel as quite commonplace. The Space Nation app allows you to travel into the cosmos, while the potential of the Boeing Hypersonic will connect the world like never before, and the “Mars” Exhibition which will open in October at London’s Design Museum explores the challenges of journeying to the Red Planet. The forward thinking excitement of the jet age will be manifested in garments for harsh weather conditions using super materials such as Vollebak’s Graphene jacket, or “Bioweave” by London-based designer, Jen Keane, whose microbial weaving grows surfaces tougher than Kevlar, or the innovations of Alice Potts whose “Perspire” project engineers material from converting human sweat.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.