We had a great discussion at the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) for the 20X Event about the future of Industrial Design. One of the discussions was about globalisation; Is the difference in product design languages becoming smaller? Does it change because the internet gives everyone access to the latest designs or are more companies contracting European designers?
In any case, design preferences can be culturally driven and influenced by the products that surround us. An indication on this topic are the student portfolios we receive from all over the world. We observe that the North European, American and Japanese designs tend to look quite similar (geometric, minimalistic, etc.), while the ones from the south of Europe tend to be more baroque and ornamented. Asian student portfolios show a preference for complex futuristic shapes and the ones from India use a lot of colour. It will be interesting to see if these student preferences change as their careers progress.
Another aspect to Globalisation is that the engineering capabilities in counties like China are improving rapidly. We have a long track record of working successfully with them, but as they grow we have to help them to make the right choices. At the same time we see that the added value of European designers is shifting towards cultural knowledge and insights. What are the trends? How will products be used? Which combination of features, functions and use cases will make the difference?
We are lucky that Amsterdam is internationally oriented and that our studio represents multiple nationalities. We also travel to North America and Asia twice a year, visiting important fairs like CES, MWC, IFA and Salone del Mobile to stay in tune with trends.