May 17, 2022
Designers have to keep up – trends, tools and programmes constantly change, and they do so quickly.
While there are gimmicks that provide no added value, some trends are here to stay and certainly need to be integrated into designers’ repertoires to keep products relevant for the market.
This also applies to product design, where technological advances in particular have quite an influence on production methods and design choices.
We have compiled brief insights into the most important product design trends that make all the difference in our current design processes.
Some of these we will come back to in greater depth in future blog posts.
Artificial intelligence (AI) » is no longer a distant dream or something that secret tech corporations use for self-learning robots that take over the world.
More realistically, AI in product design brings more functionality to products and increases their quality.
In terms of production, AI is a game changer in the product design and development process »: It helps engineers incorporate a multitude of requirements regarding the design, manufacturing, operation and more whilst also meeting strict regulations.
A helpful aspect of AI for production is machine learning, which is the process of automatic learning from examples and experiences so that a system can improve itself over time. This aids the advancement of production methods.
But what difference does AI make in the actual design of a product? AI as the base of generative design » in the area of product design and engineering means that smart algorithms can produce thousands of design options in a very short amount of time and select the best one for the specified parameters and requirements. This opens up completely new design possibilities and can, for example, help rebuild and optimise internal support structures of a product.
Generative design works incredibly well with additive manufacturing: AI-designed products can be produced and tested quickly with rapid prototyping.
Prototypes can be produced in very short amounts of time and even serial production benefits from the technology: Instead of months, it now takes only weeks or even days to print a complete pilot series.
Another advantage of 3D printing is that a range of materials including polymers, metals and graphene can be used for the process. This makes the fast production of a variety of products possible.
The concern for the environment also extends to additive manufacturing: High quality printing materials with fewer chemicals and simpler ingredients are favoured by consumers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) » is everywhere and it is going to stay.While there is no exact data, somewhere around 30 billion devices are already connected to the internet – a number that is predicted to increase to 50 billion by 2030 ».
Devices that are connected to the internet can be found in your home, in schools, hospitals, production environments and really anywhere there are humans. IoT devices include smartwatches, security cameras, smart boilers, kitchen appliances and a plethora of other items that you can communicate with through apps.
Next to making your life easier, e.g. by facilitating household chores, maintenance jobs or reaching personal fitness goals, collecting data directly through a product brings valuable insights on how consumers are using it. As designers, it is our job to translate these insights into new product developments.
Our brains are not wired to memorise events with high accuracy. Instead, we remember the emotional peak of our experience, be it negative or positive. This also means that events that evoke a strong emotional response are more likely to be remembered.
The same applies to product design: Emotions strongly affect customer experience and consumer choices ». Products that make you feel something will stay on your mind longer, increasing the likelihood of you purchasing it. Emotional responses also matter because consumers relate the emotions evoked by a design to the choices they make and what it says about them – for example in terms of status or ethical stance.
If customers are unhappy with a product and you have not made sure to create positive emotions around your product and brand, brand loyalty will not be strong either. This means customers are more likely to complain, which can be damaging for a brand’s reputation – especially when complaints are voiced publicly, such as on social media platforms.
Human-centred emotional design », on the other hand, creates a more ‘human’ user experience, triggers positive emotional reactions such as delight or surprise, increases the likelihood of a product being purchased and recommended to others, and it has the potential to improve our everyday life.
Effective, emotional storytelling is therefore essential for memorable, marketable and likeable products and benefits both the consumer and the producer. This might sound like a marketing trick, but it truly affects product design: Putting customers at the centre of product development is becoming more and more important, meaning that marketing and product design need to be strong partners.
Sustainability is not just a buzzword. In fact, it is now more relevant than ever: Consumers no longer exclusively compare prices and buy what’s cheapest. They research products and care about efficiency and the environment. Companies that fail to produce sustainably or do not prioritise resource-saving production lose customers and revenue.
A design strategy that strongly supports sustainability is circular design ». It sits at the centre of a circular economy which aims to prevent waste by repurposing materials rather than using non-renewable resources.
Circular design has three principles:
The goal of stopping further resource depletion is aided by the use of materials that are not only reusable, but also durable, repairable and upcyclable.
Clean, crisp, easier to use – minimalism and simplicity are ongoing trends for a reason. They symbolise modernity and bring peace and calm to our otherwise cluttered lives.
Applying principles of Zen to design » is something our technologically advanced society particularly loves. In addition to simplicity, minimalist Zen design benefits from concepts such as stillness, subtlety and naturalness, which help balance the design.
Here is an example of our minimalist product design for the CLIC salt shaker » :
Packaging informs consumers of what they can expect from a product and, when in-store shopping, it is usually the first visual and emotional interaction consumers will have with your product. This means it is essential to get the packaging right.
Packaging trends are currently all about sustainability, focusing on resource-efficient, recyclable and biodegradable materials. The often deliberately unpolished look of sustainable packaging adds to its charm and makes it clear at first sight that recycled materials were used.
Next to sustainable production, personal taste and preferences also flow into product design and packaging trends to cater to today’s consumers’ needs for personalisation, customisation and individual expression.
And there we have it, our selection of top product design trends! Which trends do you like the most or wished you saw more of in your day-to-day life? How might they benefit you? Let us know your thoughts on the topic, we’d love to hear any insights!
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