News & Views

Event Debrief / Pearlfisher Future

by Contagious Team


Design agency Pearlfisher presents its findings on four cultural shifts

Strategic design agency Pearlfisher presented its latest findings on cultural shifts in society at its Futures event in London. Insight director Sophie Maxwell and senior brand strategist Georgia Levison presented four scenarios based on their research and interviews with experts from fields including fashion photography, nutrition and private members exercise clubs. The team sumarised its findings into four topics:

From dictatorial to free

Most noticeably in the fashion and beauty industry, there appears to have been a shift towards embracing differences in ethnicity, looks and age. Make-up brands like Illamesqua cater for the 'alter ego' rather than trying to make people as polished as possible, resulting in an era that transcends stereotypes and long-held ideas.

From perfect to optimal

This development is based on people trying to optimise products and services to their own, personalised taste. Rather than striving for perfection, this trend is more about becoming the best person possible, with brands starting to step in and make sure they're on hand to help. Nike's sports prosthetics are one example of a company seeking to optimise the life of every athlete.

From depreciating to appreciating

'Don't regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many,' says an anonymous quote. People are starting to embrace age as an advantage, and Pearlfisher are exploring how brands can grow older with their consumers. Looking at IKEA for example, the design team suggested a high-quality, personal brand based on the IKEA premise that provides homes for everyone. In this instance, IKEA would progress towards individual consultations with its clientele to provide products that suit an ageing population. Websites like High 50 cater for increasingly healthy, active age groups that many brands currently fail to address appropriately. 

From detachment to unison

According to the team, there's been a rise in psychological consultations, diagnoses in anxiety disorders and life coaches that are trying to teach us how to lead a better life. But why do we increasingly seem to reflect and voice our deepest thoughts? In an attempt to lead more 'complete' lives, which comes with the stress of having to balance the various aspects of it, according to Pearlfisher. Action for Happiness for example strives to bring together 'like-minded people from all walks of life... to create more happiness in the world.'

Insight director Sophie Maxwell commented on the research: 'By continually speaking to key opinion formers and drawing on our own expertise we develop a view of the world which gives us context and inspiration, defining the big shifts that are happening to build an informed and influential view of the future. This view of change is fundamental to our work because it allows us to look beyond today to see the possibilities so we can design for the future.'