How are Trends determined – Part 2

Trends are determined from a collection of a lot of data, from images, news media, exhibitions, from budgets, economics, public awareness, environmental issues, from social media, from TV, from………….. the list is extensive.

A person (or a group of people) is/are then expected to go through all that data and try to find patterns occurring, to see where the flow is coming from and then might be going.

Then the patterns are sent to Trend Forecasters.

Trend Forecasting

So, Trend Forecasting is taking the work done by the analyst (often this can be the same person) and predicting which direction the pattern is heading, or the options of direction.

In marketing and product design and sales, this is easier as a graph (or a series of them) can be used to plot these figures and see the trends.

However, in Design, this is harder and take intuition, in most cases, a natural skill or talent, only so much can be taught. 

Lidewij Edelkoort of Trends United, refers to trend forecasting “to be like archaeology, but moving forward into the future.”

Lidewij Edelkoort 2015

A forecaster must have a good knowledge of the history of trends, 10, 20, 40, or 100 years ago, (or somewhere in between or even further back) as a current trend tends to have its roots from the past.  So, a forecaster needs to project trends from the past into the future based on trends and patterns from somewhere in the past.  A forecaster needs to anticipate future developments based on information collected, needs to use, a different point of view from social concept, media, and to be adventurous in decision making.  They must be leaders.


Types of Trends.

Humans like categorising their world.  This is also the case for the design world and trends.

Trends are often referred to as FADS.  Fads are short term trends with a restricted accepting audience.

Neon printed baggies                Sponge painted walls     Images from

I don’t even recall anyone wearing these pants trend except in the movies!

CLASSIC trends tend to be those that last long term.  These trends tend to have deep core attributes, nothing too extreme.  These have a wide visibility and over time has multiple ownership.


                                                            Image from

Visualisation of trends.

As mentioned trend forecasting relies in knowing about past trends.  Therefore, it can be assumed that as a pattern is starting to occur, then it’s movement can be traced somewhere from the past, in full or in essence.  When looking into the past, there are three distinct patterns that emerge:

1.    Curves in trends is a pattern that follows a constant timeline, while the consumer needs may change at varying rates, showing a curvature in a specific trend.  This is generally a smooth transition for example from mid-century modern, modern, minimalist, through to contemporary.


Modern Interior 1918 – 1950  from Architectural Digest


Country interior design  1920-1970’s  from House Beautiful

 mid century modern

Mid-century Modern  1930-1965  Image from Elle Décor


Minimalist Interior  1960-early 1970’s  Image from Lollagram.

 contemporary 1980 

Contemporary Interior 1980+  Image from Elle Decor

2.    A Pendulum pattern, as it describes, is a pattern which swings in and out, such as pastels, jewel colours, monochromatics, or between curves, straight lines and neither. 


Furs come back from time to time  Image from National Geographic


3.    Cycles are design trends that re-occur time and time again, or trend elements that re-occur.  These are called long term waves.  Traditional and country trends are examples of cycles, having strong roots in their design elements.      

        1950 SciFi interpretation  From ABC      1959  By Jac. de Nijs / Anefo       2017  Image from Favim

 Relationship between fashion and interior design

There is a strong relationship between fashion and interior design trends.  In the 18th Century the fabrics from couture where the same as decorative fabrics

                    1720                                                    1765                   images from MetMuseum

Memories of Sound of Music

 sound of music

Image from Fibre Athletics

It has also been seen in the 1960-70’s, the Retro period, where dress fabric patterns and colours where the same as furnishing fabrics and wall decor.

 retro fashion & design

Blending in with your environment!  Source


Both fashion and interior designs rely on the same design principles of shape, space and form, as well as pattern and repetition.  Expressing these principles and elements are a reflection on individual expression, uniqueness and creativity.  These are art forms that are accessible by the masses.

Newell Turner believes “if you care about the way you look, you’re going to care about the way you live”, that personal fashion and home fashion go hand in hand.


Who does the trend forecasting?

There are many forecasting agencies.  Some of the better known ones that influence Interior Design are:

The Pantone Colour Institute – this has become recognised as the leading authority in colour.  They have globalised colour by setting up a colour language, so everyone works on the same page.

 pantone page

Dulux provides trends in colour for the building design sector, publishing an independent report.




Scarlet Opus – is a UK based agency focusing on Interior Design, providing manufactures, retailers, designers, home builders architects and the media with forecasts.  They forecast two years ahead of real time, providing information about colour, pattern materials etc.  Their forecasting can extend to editing current product ranges.

 scarley opus page

Edelkoort is a Dutch based company running under the name of Trend Union.  Trend Union has base offices in Paris, New York and Tokyo.  They now publish under the name of Trend Tablet, providing design and lifestyle analysis.  

 lidelwij page

 Trend Reports

Trend reports are sent out each year makes the ‘job’ of keeping up with trends easier.  In the digital age, forecasting has become more reliable due to the availability, accessibility and diversity of the information needed to forecast trends.  Following these reports has helped a business grow in strength, as they are more readily available.

However, the accessibility to these reports has led to a mixed interpretation of the aspects of the reports.

Trend Tablet is a free website by Lidewij Edelkoort that reports trends and how forecasting works.  A useful resource in following and understanding trends.

Trend Tablet

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