Looking to the future of working in design

Since the start of the pandemic, designers across the globe have worked in a very different way. Our design team discussed how they’ve overcome challenges; developing trends they’ve seen in ways of working; and their visions for the future of the design industry after a life-changing year.

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With over 50 years of design experience between them, Renee Hytry-Derrington, Managing Principal of Design at Formica Group North America and Nina Bailey, Design Lead at Formica Group Europe, know the industry inside out.

They would usually spend their time moving from country to country, gathering inspiration by attending and talking at some of the world’s most prestigious design events. 

Instead, says Nina, creative new methods played a key role in keeping up-to-date during the Covid-19 pandemic. She says: “Webinars and podcasts were great tools for inspiration and connecting with the outside world. I used trend forecasts, such as WGSN, to search within specific areas of design. But where I really found value was that our customers seemed to have more time than ever to collaborate.”

While that willingness to work together has been crucial, Renee believes it has prompted a challenging trend in working methods. Renee says: “Being creative is problem solving, and we can see the design community has used this skill to manoeuvre themselves throughout the last year. But being readily available online has developed a ‘meeting culture’ where formal meeting after meeting has become the norm.

“I’ve missed hallway conversations with colleagues and the organic, collaborative working that brings about. While the digital world served us well, it’s time to bring back the physicality of design.”

When it comes to changes to our working lives, both Nina and Renee say the pandemic has shown that travelling will no longer be mandatory. We now live in a world where presentations and meetings can be taken from home without the negative connotation of unprofessionalism.

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The future of design rests on innovation, functionality, aesthetics and the perfect timing coming together all at once, a designer’s ability to create environments and products that are not just aesthetically pleasing but are clean, practical, adaptable and versatile is paramount. “It’ll be interesting to see what design develops ‘at this moment in time’ and how the vast and quick changes we’ve undergone as a global community will define this era.” says Nina.

“The durability, sustainability and longevity of the products we design has become ever more important,” says Renee, honing in on these characteristics I foresee various trends emerging in the new world.

‘Safe Haven’ is a key developing trend, with the effects of the last year stirring up a raft of emotions prompting people to cocoon and take shelter. Unthreatening forms and tonally harmonious colours look set to blend in a mood of elegant escapism.

At the same time, expect to see the emergence of a ‘Fresh Start’ trend, where designs rooted in clinical cleanliness will offer a visual counterbalance to the effects of overconsumption.

Renee says: “As we contract into smaller spaces and tinier bubbles, we’re challenged to create environments that not only feel open, but will welcome visitors to take a deep, confident breath.”

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