Monday Musing / Trendspotting

The Train Spotter…

Ok. So how did I come to be here; now; doing… this?

Trend Forecasting. On an internship. In Amsterdam. At my age – this in reference to the internship bit (aren’t interns school-leavers?), not the Amsterdam bit – Amsterdam suits me just fine and I, suit it. It seems to embrace creativity, co-working/producing, highbrow thinking, open-mindedness,  the ‘weird’ (after all I like to believe that teleportation* will be possible… one day… when we have the technology… and no, I’m not a Trekkie)!

“Trend what?”

“Trend Watching. Spotting.”

Train spotting?”

“No Mamma (I refer to my mother in Greek as that is what she is… and selectively hard of hearing!). T.R.E.N.D. Trendspotting… watching for emerging trends, insights and innovations”. (Btw, the word ‘trend’ is not a term exclusively associated with the fashion industry. As Martin Raymond writes in ‘The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook’, “Nor is it a term that simply refers to processes which affect physical or aesthetic changes in our culture. A trend can be emotional, intellectual and even spiritual. At its most basic, a trend can be defined as the direction in which something (anything) tends to move and which has a consequential impact on culture, society or business sector through which it moves.”

Back to the parental concern. “But why? You’re a designer with years of experience, working with some big clients, you’ve won awards. You’re very good as a designer. I remember when you were a little girl, always full of imagination. Worked hard to get your design degree. Then harder again to set up and run your creative businesses. Always creating, always curious. Always wanting to try different paths, new ways. And not so as to be different but to see how far you could take something, never choosing the easy way with anything. Always one foot outside your comfort zone.”

“Exactly. I know Mamma, really. That is why this feels right. Natural progression – creativity, trends, intuition, analysis, communicating, world view. And more. Lots to learn. Can’t wait!!!”

That’s why. Partly.

Then there was that time in 2009; I went to a talk as part of a series programmed and hosted by the fantastic guys of the Cardiff Design Festival. Zuzanna Skalska from VanBerlo in Amsterdam was the speaker on behalf of Dutch Design Week, giving a snapshot into the life and times of a Trendwatcher. What she had to say blew me away. And it all made total sense. One of the bits I found especially fascinating was the bit about how every condition – social, economical, political, the time, the place – were absolutely critical to a trend emerging and either surviving and maybe going as far as becoming a trend virus or meme (derived from the Greek word ‘mimema’, to ‘mime’ or ‘mimic’; and the French word for ‘same’ – also a vital component in the make-up of a meme) or, crashing and burning out of sight forever.

Now that’s what I call exhilarating, a thrill, something to wrap my mind around and get the creative juices flowing.

And so, for now, that’s how.

* This is in reference to a (sober) discussion I had late one night in a bar, in the Alps, with this guy that I had not long met and with whom there was an instant connection. Becoming suddenly aware of this, I of course had to pretend all was cool and that I was ‘worldly’ (really, I’m not!) and so brought up my theory of teleportation as a ‘distraction’ (I know…don’t even go there!). He didn’t think teleportation possible, in fact, he said he knew it wasn’t possible. He is a tech guy, smart, a deep thinker so I suppose he should know, but I think I amused him a little.  But anyway, as it goes, I do believe teleportation WILL be possible… things never happen from ‘knowing what is’; they happen from ‘dreaming what could be’… and that’s that!


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