Category Archives: why

We Can and We Should

We’ve been talking about holograms for years here at Continuous Designs. Hatsune Miko‘s American debut in Los Angeles in 2011 was big news!

For the first time in a long tome, no one at CD went to Coachella. We didn’t get to see 2Pac live in 2012.

There are mixed reactions here, just like the rest of the world. Some of us are creeped out. Some are excited about the futuristic aspect of it. And, some, well I, think both are equally good reactions.

The general response has been similar to Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner ten years after his death.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  But, if it’s manipulated for aggressively commercial use, it backfires.  We love seeing Natalie Cole in a duet with her father, Nat King Cole.  We love seeing Steve McQueen behind the wheel of a Mustang.  It feels right.  It feels good.

Tupac on stage at Coachella is commercial.  Freddie Mecury performing with Queen in 2012 is still commercial, but a little more sentimental.

Brands need to be selective in their use of this new technology.  Think it through.  A hologram boarding agent in Hall 40 at the Orly Airport in Paris, France is a great example of applying the technology well.  Even using holograms in-store to demonstrate functionality in sporting equipment could be received well by most consumers.

We expect to see much more of this in the near future from the estates of the late greats.  And, although we try to stay neutral here at CD, we sincerely hope not to see the Beatles or Grateful Dead reunion tour.

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Where have we been???

We’ve been BUSY!

The best advice I ever received on blogging was that if it’s not the primary source of revenue, do not put it first.

We love sharing what we see, and our perspective on the trends but business comes first…the 2012 trend book will soon be available.

Wish I had more time to give details but here’s a  hint :: it would have been totally cool to launch the book during the total solar eclipse on July 11th!  Alas…

In the meantime, remember ::

–pic taken in downtown LA

But, Do You Like-Like Me?

Last week, the new LIKE button was announced at the Facebook Developers Conference (F8). Today you can like your friends, your friends photos, etc. Soon, facebook users will be able to like anything on the web. That includes shopping sites, articles, blogs…well anything!

Most are saying that this will “bring the consumer to the center of the web” and marketing depts will finally have to listen to the people!

Well, the web has never really been the democratic utopia some imagined. And, marketing depts exist to listen to and manipulate consumers towards a particular brand or item.

Why should companies care about the new like button? Image is everything. For now, we’re still in the trend cycle we describe as of I.D. (individual delineation). Everyone wants to be the apart of the right tribe, and in with the right crowd as a form of individuality–in a conformist kind of way.

Being able to easily see what others are in to is the fastest and easiest way to join the gang.

The pressure brands will be under to become or remain the most popular. But, that doesn’t translate to being the best. Brands and designers that stay focused on their own message and don’t react to the peer pressure of being liked will be in a stronger position as we move into the new cycle.

The trend is just beginning to move away from consumerism, forced immediately by the sharp economic downturn. But, as DIY evolves into true craftsmanship, as GREEN evolves into true sustainability, people will look for the best, not just the most popular.

EXTREMIS thinking :: innovate or die

Way back in 2009, Community was the trend. Everyone talked about it. Community covered everything from sustainability to social networking; both global and local. We looked clearly at one another and the effect & affect we have on each other.

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Extremis, a self described togetherness-company, based in Belgium is the best example we’ve seen of that trend. Every product, every space is designed to bring people together. We couldn’t confirm if they designed the lounge at PV in Paris, but if not, they were a great influence. We especially love PicNik. The piece comes in all colours, and unique variations. It can stand alone very well but works even better when two come together. Just like people.

Dirk Wynants, the company’s founder and big boss, will reveal the ping pong networking table at Design at Work next month. It’s a variation of the popular DoNuts piece. As a Californian, being in Belgium in December doesn’t warm my heart (or any other body part) but this show is worth the cold. It’s on our short list of shows to see for 2010.

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Because “networking is serious fun”, the tables will be available for the attendees to use for meet and greets.

Blasian invasion

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We talked about the true BRIC effect on the world in the Fall 2010 trend book. For Fall 2011, we focused more on the specific relationship between Asia and Africa.

My first glimpse into this was in Seoul several years ago. I wanted to buy a ticket to Phuket for a long weekend away from the office. I went to the ticket agency, took a number and sat and waited, and waited. Two very tall, very striking African men in traditional West African clothing walked in. They caught everyone’s attention. When the older man talked to the travel agent in fluent Korean, they got my attention.

The two continents have had a long history of which many in the US and Europe are ignorant.  During the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BCE to 256 BCE), many Africans settled in China.

Today, many talk about the Chinese invasion of Africa in both positive and negative economic and ecological terms. We looked at the personal side. Racial identity, like sexual identity, cannot be easily defined but still remains a necessary marker for communities.

In the US, we’re familiar with so-called war babies. Children born in Korea in the 50’s, in Vietnam and Laos in the 60’s and 70’s whose mothers are Asian and fathers are American, some are African-American.

Today, male Chinese workers in African countries take on wives and have children. Soon after a birth, the father is often sent back to China and the mother and child are left alone and often ostracized by the local community.

But isn’t this a “post-racial” world? Didn’t we all see Romeo Must Die?  Tiger Woods?  Kimora Lee Simmons!

LouJingSadly no. Lou Jing, a typical Shanghainese girl who happens to have a Nigerian father, is another current example of an old prejudice.   Her appearance on a reality tv show has prompted some surprisingly hate filled feedback from the audience to both her and her mother.  Although, the mother did reportedly have an extramarital affair that lead to Lou Jing’s birth, the reactions saying Lou is not a real Chinese seem inappropriate and inaccurate.

So, what’s the upside?  Will we add even more hyphens to fully describe ourselves?  Probably…in the short term.  But there are generations of people around the world who are becoming more vocal about not being forced into outdated categories.

How does this effect design? The Apparel Industry, especially in the US and Europe, doesn’t understand global diversity in body types.  Just shrinking patterns doesn’t work for the Asian market.  Just adding a little in the seat doesn’t work for African markets.  In Marketing, people are most often targeted through stereotype focused ads and products or obviously inserted as little more than a token.

Companies looking for longevity and relevancy in future markets need to re-look at the message they’re sending to consumers through product and advertising.  Things may no longer follow the Western European model set in the past.

I’m a BOY!

boys1900A few months ago, I met one of the cutest and most energetic kid-about 3 or 4, hanging out with Dad at the garage.  Very fashionable-dark jeans, baggy shirt with some wild graphics and cool sneaks.  Natural curiosity and generosity.  I learned some cool rubber band tricks that day! Expressive red lips and wild curly hair falling in front of big bright eyes.

I turned to one of guys behind the counter and said, “She’s really cool.”  I was quickly corrected.  “I’m a BOY!”  I had to scan for those clues of gender identity.  The jeans were generic.  So was the t-shirt.  The shoes had pink trim and, well, those CURLS!  I  could only respond with “Sorry.  You’re a really cool boy!”  Then, I was taught another rubber band trick.

We’ve been looking at androgyny in teens and young adults for a little while but toddlers? Yes, and even infants.  Today’s parents don’t limit their choices to pink for girls and blue for boys.  We’ve seen aqua and yellow used as neutrals in the past.  Interestingly, pink for boys and blue for girls was the convention until the mid-20th century.  Pink was seen as a pale version of the fiery, masculine red-think Mars-God of War!  Light blue was considered a dainty, delicate, weak colour and associated with girls.

Everything changes and everything’s the same.  Androgyny is back with all those other trends from the 80’s but redefined for the times.  Today, we’re looking more at gender roles and self-identification through androgyny.  The 80’s focused more on sexual identity and expressions of power.  Then, it was about absorbing the traits and characteristics of the opposite gender.  Today, it’s about shedding the limitations of gender identity and stereotypes.

It’s not just about putting women in power suits or men in skirts-although we’re currently seeing both.  Dazed&Confused Japan recently featured a gender bending photoshoot that was more of an homage to the 80’s than what’s going on today.  It goes deeper and will very likely leave a lasting effect that will change the paradigm.

putryizzah-photobucketYounger kids always look to older kids for cues to what cool is.  Teens in the Emo and Steampunk Scenes have taught their little brothers and sisters that boys can cry and girls can be heros, while listening to the Smiths.  Parents follow their lead and worry a little less when their little girls like trucks or boys want their rooms painted lavender.

Designers can no longer make assumptions around colour preferences or styling.  A new design movement, based purely on aesthetics without gender stereotyping, would be greatly appreciated and wildly popular with younger generations and even some of us who are a little older.  The new androgyny isn’t about denying the physical differences in gender or blending them.  There is still a pride or even joy in being a girl or boy.  But the choices in style and look and expression go beyond the old traditions.