On Thursday, for the second year running, IIDEX/NeoCon Canada presents a conference session with professional trend spotter Jamie Thomas, above. This year, the Stylesight trend director looks ahead to spring/summer 2013 and sees four big-picture trends all basking in the shade of a single epochal umbrella, which Thomas pithily describes as “East is the new West.”
“We’re talking about a worldwide shift away from Europe and America and toward the East,” she says. “This is a long wave trend that will affect fashion, design and interiors for the next 10 to 20 years.”
IIDEX/NeoCon at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre September 22 – 24, is Canada’s biggest design expo and conference catering especially to contract designers and product specialists. Stylesight is a web portal that offers tastes of its research and reporting to the great unwashed but reserves the real meat for subscribers who get forecasts tailored to their specific industrial needs.
And I do mean specific. One of Thomas’s clients specializes in automotive interiors: “They’re interested in prints, patterns, textures, fibers, materials, colours,” says the trend seer. “So it’s definitely important to be aware of what’s happening on the runway and on the street. And also to be aware of macro trends and cultural movements, feelings we’re picking up in the zeitgeist.”
Thomas is often asked whether trend watchers predict or dictate what’s next, “because we say something will happen and then it does.”
I cite Pantone’s “colour of the year” as a great example of the self-fulfilling nature of such prophecies. Magazines and blogs flog each year’s prognostication to the point where consumers jump on board almost in spite of themselves. Pictured above is Stylesight’s Nutopia palette.
In trying to better understand the mechanics of trend forecasting I ask Thomas where Ikat, a huge, recent phenomenon, fits into the style universe. “Ikat is a component of a bigger trend,” she says, “which is about ethnic influences, global chic, a melange of cultures and techno craft. Ikat is a component of a larger trend that is more about a global citizen.”
So what’s ahead then? Thomas and her team are predicting the following:
“This story is all about plastics and transluscence, new matierials. We’re all obsessed with new technologies like the iPad and the iPhone and those things are influencing interiors.”
“A look at the traditions surrounding birth, life and death. Death doesn’t have to be a morbid thing; with re-birth we’re looking at how trends die away and are reborn. There’s a lot of fire in this story, and gray, like the ashes that are left behind. There’s also a bit of a monastic feel.
A more relaxed vibe, this trend is about unplugging from our technology and having a more serene vibe. The colours are very influenced by dessert sunsets, a very refreshing feeling. I love the Nutopia story, it’s liberating and innovative, about being in tune with the universe. The palette is sandy, earthy, bohemian, with pinks, dessert roses, mustard and bright yellows, it’s very pretty.
A look at what’s happening in the urban environment, kind of a twisted nautical palette focused on reds and blues with a pop of pink and yellow.
After a decade in the business, Thomas has been making style predictions long enough to have established a track record of hits and misses. “It’s not about us sitting on top of a mountain and proclaiming that blue is the colour,” she says. “It really is a lot of research, going to the trade shows, hitting the street, looking at vintage, reading the magazines and the blogs and being self-aware. It’s not coming from us, it’s coming from the zeitgeist, the energy of the world is creating the trend and we decipher and explain the trend in a clear way.”
In the end, it’s really all about timing, says Thomas. ” If you come up with an idea but your timing is wrong that doesn’t work either. It’s about deciding the right moment.”