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Lunch Talk: Decoding a trend.

June 22, 2022

Pauline on how to disassemble a trend to understand the changes of our world better.

In our recent FLUID lunch talk Pauline explored the importance of unraveling the essence of a trend.

„What I love about my work as a designer is the opportunity to shape the future"
, she says. Using design to form the future - she has already dedicated her master's thesis to this topic, which resulted in the Future Thinking Toolkit, a playful and creative toolkit that supports us to design positive futures that can act as visions in organizations. 

Currently, Pauline is continuing her education in this field, exploring the question of “how to integrate trend research and future studies into her daily work as a designer." As a design and innovation agency working with clients on developing future scenarios and driving innovation, we were delighted that Pauline shared with us what she has learned!

Here are some of the key questions revolving around the topic that Pauline set out to answer…

“Trends are the direction along which particular forces move …”

A trend is not an innovation. It is the essence of a shift or idea, what is at the heart of it, and what gives it value, context and legitimacy.

Look for change: sole shifts in the social, technological, ethical, environmental or political landscape that indicate difference and newness. Analyzing the building blocks of a trend helps to fully understand the essence of a shift.

Who started the trend?

“Look for cool people first and cool things later, not the other way around". To spot a trend, it is important to identify the innovators first because "cool things" and what people perceive as "cool things" are constantly changing.

Where did the trend start?

Where innovation builds its first audience can be everywhere - in a bar, boardroom, patents office, crowdfunding sites and many other places. Trends are often born in cities or neighborhoods where large numbers of early adopters gather. 

The best places to find a trend

A good starting point may be to look in and around cities listed in the Creative Cities Index. Also interesting: "Liveable Cities" (various compilations by Monocle Magazine & The Economist), "Innovation Cities" and "Happiness Cities". 

Did you know that currently the Creative Cities Index includes the 2 German cities, Mannheim and Freiburg?

When does a trend start?

When a trend occurs is very much related to the reasons why a trend emerges. As social developments are ongoing, trend researchers ideally need to be present at all times. 

What are the drivers for a trend?

The drivers are the result of an ongoing and sometimes fragmentary debate within the culture about ethical, environmental, financial, social, political or technological issues. These issues can seem marginal at first but over a period of time concern more and more people.

It is natural to follow trends!
Do you know why? Because  evolution, Dawkins believes, has encoded us to mirror or mimic the characteristics of others so that socially, intellectually and culturally we survive easier. We are interconnected social beings, after all.