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Brief Published: 28 Mar 2018

It’s an exciting time to be a product designer. Creativity thrives when it’s limited by constraints, and today these seem greater than ever before.

We need design that celebrates purpose and meaning, but most of all, resourcefulness. Now, a new movement of designers and makers is revolutionising manufacturing and production to the benefit of people and planet.

And they’re not alone. Consumers are more savvy and influential than previous generations; they increasingly co-design, share and rate designs online – helping the best ideas to prosper.

Our three influential Design Directions for A/W 19/20 chart these changing consumer behaviours alongside advances in technology and manufacturing. Based on insights from experts across multiple industries, each offers practical visual guidelines for future design.

Dutch Invertuals Mutant Matter
Lithoplast by Shahar Livne
Lithoplast by Shahar Livne

As resources become scarcer, products have to become less wasteful. This has ignited interest in the Anthropocene  – the current period of humans impacting the world’s geology. Now, in search of a new sustainable aesthetic, designers and makers are excavating urban debris and plastics from the Earth’s crust.


One designer who’s caught my eye is Shahar Livne, who foresees virgin plastic becoming a rare resource. She’s created Lithoplast, a pliable material made from discarded plastics, minestone and marble dust. Mining plastics could well become a future mainstream reality, with e-waste and recycled plastics elevated to luxury status.

Our team is really looking forward to seeing the unlikely materials on show at this year’s Milan Design Week, which starts on April 17 (to keep tabs on what we discover, make sure you follow us on Instagram). Already on our watch list are the new materials for a smart city at the Superdesign Show, 3D-printed concrete at Ventura Future, and Dutch group Envisions’ challenge to our perceptions of wood-based materials.

Bureau SLA x Overtreders W, The People’s Pavilion

I’m also excited about exploratory design collective Dutch Invertuals’ Mutant Matter. Inspired by FranklinTill’s new book, Radical Matter, it will explore how organic and man-made materials can mutate for positive environmental impact.

As technology becomes increasingly virtual, invisible and embedded, our physical world has the potential to be more textured, tactile and engaging – leading to a renewed interest in materials. 

Our recent Colour, Material and Finish Industry View reported on repurposed waste as a raw material for self-sufficient architecture. And looking ahead to April, we’ll be exploring exciting new cross-industry approaches to plastic in response to the global impact of plastic pollution – so stay tuned. 

Have a great month,

Tessa Mansfield

Chief Creative Officer