Why unpredictability should be a feature of your next project

Recently I’ve been thinking about how so many of our apparent choices in this digital age are predetermined for us – that we are constantly being directed.  Online recommendations steer us away from what is unrelated, unfamiliar and unexpected.  This effectively edits out anything that challenges our pre-existing beliefs and interests.  I’m talking about how when I buy a book on Amazon it then suggests similar books that might interest me; Netflix and YouTube make suggestions of similar things to watch in relation to what I’ve already watched; Instagram and Pinterest suggest who else to follow based on who I already follow.  The algorithms work on the basis of ‘If you liked that, you’ll love this’.

But all of these suggested shortcuts cut out the likeliness of chance discoveries and surprises … the joy of the unexpected and the delight of serendipity.  It encourages sameness.  And that can’t be good, if for no other reason than it can narrow our views and concentrate our prejudices rather than broaden our knowledge and deepen our empathy.  If the news feeds we read take us in ever decreasing circles it can skew our view of the world, and it’s something people have been mentioning to me with concern in lots of personal and professional conversations recently.

Part of our job as trend forecasters is to consider how these concerns might manifest themselves in terms of changing attitudes, how people will want to live and the products and services they will want to interact with.

So how do we beat the algorithms?

How can we avoid being herded and controlled?

How can we invite ‘chance’ back into our lives?

How do we maintain a sense of wonder?

Can it start with products and services that enliven our senses, creating daily moments of delight or have unpredictable outcomes purposely designed in?

Consumers are yearning to discover the unexpected in the mundane, the everyday and seemingly familiar.

1. Street Chandelier urban intervention by Werner Reiterer 2. Crystal Series by molistudio 3. Glass sculpture by Roni Horn

♦ Seek out alternatives to what is expected & accepted in your industry ♦ Look beyond the ‘tried & tested’ ♦ Embrace a design and problem solving approach that is knowingly off kilter and welcomes randomness ♦ Question convention ♦ Disrespect the rules ♦ Connect with experts who are totally unconnected to your area of expertise ♦ Read articles by writers whose views you oppose ♦ Watch a TED Talk by someone with an opposing view on a subject to yours ♦ Be willing to change your mind ♦ Be experimental and spontaneous ♦ Invite incongruous objects into spaces as catalysts for contemplation and new modes of thinking ♦

ABOVE: The extraordinary work of Anny Wang

This week think about:

How you can integrate unexpected elements and delightful surprises into your business offer and interactions with your customers?

How you can reward your customer’s curiosity?

How you can satisfy their yearning for adventure and create a sense of discovery?

We’ll be exploring these issues and showcasing products that link with the ‘Out Of The Ordinary’ trend on our trend hub spaces at exhibitions this year, starting with the London Stationery Show this month.

Join us on the Stationery Trends Hub (on the Gallery level) to discover inspiring information on 4 macro trends for 2018/19, including intriguing material samples, colour palettes and our pick of exhibitor’s products.

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