FORECASTING, as a profession – interview with Lidewij EDELKOORT

Bucharest Mazars Forum 2019 is an exclusive event dedicated to C-level executives of major Romanian and multinational companies, academic and financial specialists, foreign investors, influencers and media. This year’s agenda developed a new concept: archaic versus uber-techy. While the first issue could become anytime avant-garde as the old renews itself, the other issue touches and substantiates those who already are engaged in artificial intelligence.

On the 4th of September 2019 Mazars Forum in Bucharest offered the possibility to follow memorable interventions of special people. Lidewij EDELKOORT – the worldwide known trend forecaster, socio-cultural observer, educator and curator conference – had the kindness to respond in exclusivity for igloo.ro. The well known trend forecaster explains the subtleties of the profession in a pertinent interview that we entitled „FORECASTING, as a profession”.

Lidewij Edelkoort - photo by Thirza Schaap on location at Singita Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Lidewij Edelkoort – photo by Thirza Schaap on location at Singita Private Game Reserve, South Africa

igloo: What does it mean to be a trend forecaster?

L.E.: Forecasting is a profession that uses a combination of intuition and reason. One needs to be fearless in trusting one’s intuition, before decrypting the social and cultural shifts around us. One reflects heavily upon why change is happening. So it’s important to embrace social studies, anthropology and history while simultaneously applying these lessons to imagination. Only then are these tendencies translated for the design and lifestyle industries, as well as a guide for banks, institutions, governments and more.

igloo: The process of concept creation for food retailers, department stores, restaurants, hotels, entertainment, fashion, accessories, lifestyle and cosmetics companies implies dense variety and foreseeing qualities. How you can best explain to customers your understanding of the world?

L.E.: I have a very holistic approach to studying trends, so each of these sectors are connected. In fact, for lifestyle forecasting one first defines shifts and consumer archetypes, before focusing more on the application for a specific industry. I have an insatiable curiosity and through my travels, I am constantly looking for subtle changes in the way people think and feel so that it can inform the themes of my forecasting tools, keynotes and other work.

igloo: You established almost a decade ago the School of Form, a design school in Poznan, Poland. How has the curricula improved or changed in accelerated changing nowadays. What would be different if you would establish this school today August 2019?

L.E.: The curriculum at the School of Form has improved from the input of faculty and students alike, and moves with the times just like any curriculum should. However the core idea that seeing the humanities at the center of design – from social studies to color theory, anthropology, history and philosophy – is still the backbone of the school’s strength. In the mean time, a school of architecture has been set up using the same general philosophy. The school is also looking to position itself more in Warsaw which will give it an even more international outlook.

igloo: When and how you decided to publish the General Trend Book (that is issued twice a year in a limited edition)?

L.E.: Through my consulting company Trend Union, since 1986 I have published seasonal forecasts twice a year for a variety of industries form fashion and textiles to architecture, well-being, beauty and interiors. The General Trend Book is the main forecast since it looks at changing mentalities and socio-cultural evolution before relating that to consumption and creativity at large. Over the years, the themes in this forecast have included the idea of enjoying a small holiday in everyday life (2002), sustainability and how to consume better (2003) and the emancipation of all aspects of society (2017). More recently, I have been predicting how colors shifts such as the revival of brown and the symbolism of green will reflect the bigger picture.

igloo: What are your near future expectations for trend tablet?

L.E.: Trend Tablet has had a continuous impact on our creative conversation around the world, reaching tens of thousands of designers, freelancers and others. We are currently rethinking how to make the website more personal and give more importance to writing as well as adding podcasts to our company’s outreach. So stay tuned!

igloo: Archaeology of the Future is more than a retrospective exhibition. Can we map the future?

L.E.: Absolutely, and sometimes it’s necessary to look at the past in order to reinvent the future. That’s what Archaeology of the Future was all about. Like an archaeologist, forecasting also looks at fragments of information that once combined, can illustrate a picture of how we live; the only difference being that forecasting is about the times to come! In recent years, archaeology itself has become a major inspiration for many designers and thinkers, rediscovering our roots while defining a more organic approach to lifestyle.

igloo: Why do people need to acknowledge trends and receive future forecasts? Does this enhance or diminishes the unexpected beauty of tomorrow?

L.E.: Trends are part of the zeitgeist and are pre-existing phenomena. This means that no one can invent a trend, but merely try to decrypt it and study it and predict its longevity. Acknowledging them is an important way to understand what is happening is society and culture as well as consumption – to connect the dots and see where we are going. For designers and companies that are creating products and services two or more years ahead, it will always remain important to understand how we are evolving in order to plan creatively and strategically. Beauty is not diminished by this since the trends have a mind all of their own! Beauty and aesthetics evolve without worrying about whether or not they are commercially viable. Beauty develops in the hearts and imaginations of creative people, as well as in nature, culture and life itself. It can never be diminished by people, even when times look tough.

igloo: Are you confident in architecture’s future? Explain why.

L.E.: As soon as we stop building air conditioned glass façades, I will sleep better at night! However, great plans are underway to imagine entirely green cities, such as the urban jungles being designed by Winy Maas at MVRDV; he’s an architectural forecaster of sorts and envisions cities that can be self-sufficient. In addition, I personally believe that cities will not keep on growing at the same pace as they do today, and that many younger generations will eventually move out to the countryside. Therefore, it is contemporary rural architecture that will become the major focus.

This masterfully introduces high expectations for igloo 192 issue with RURAL as dossier theme – so keep an eye in the bookshelf on media for igloo #192.

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