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SXSW future trends report: the end of seasons and smartphones

It’s now springtime (yes really). The SS18 campaign images have started to litter our feeds with vintage florals, raw fabrics and fields of wheat. Meanwhile the “Beast from the East” reared its icy head and turned the UK into Narnia, forcing us all back into clothes more suited to the slopes.
 
At SXSW, WGSN predicted the end of seasons. Driven by our frequency to travel, rather than the weather, brands need to forget SS/AW and design items that will adapt to changing environments. Alexander Wang was the latest in a long line of designers to abandon the traditional seasonal fashion calendar. “This new cadence will allow us to speak to our global customer in different conversations that are not limited to just fashion week twice a year,” said Wang. Let’s face it, Gucci’s latest accessory, your own severed head as a clutch bag, is a winner in all seasons.
 
The perpetual race to fashion week has filtered down to the high street, driving a desire for fast fashion and fuelling an industry that consumes a quarter of the world’s annual carbon. We know ethical alternatives are out there, but where? New players to the market such as Done Good are helping shoppers to find sustainable substitutes online, and there are some pretty awesome brands growing in this space. Don’t worry, couture is not going away – the opposite in fact, it plays into the same artisan trend for products made by real people, choosing craftsmanship over mass-production, all-natural over genetically-modified.
 
“We live a designed life, the quality of our life is the quality of the design,” said Bruce Mau acclaimed designer and conceptual philosopher. He was at SXSW to share how great design not only beautifies the world, but improves the way we live. It’s his belief the 20th century won’t be remembered for technical innovation or conflict, but as the year that all of life, including the natural world, was seen as a practical objective, a design problem. And it’s true, everything is designed, even conservation. Once the brief changes from “all mankind” to “all life” we know we’re heading in the right direction.
 
Where do the machines fit into this? If we’re designing for the future, man won’t be coming alone. We’re already attached to our phone, watch, ear buds and fitness tracker. In The World Unplugged Project, investigators at the University of Maryland reported that one in three people admitted they’d rather give up sex than their smartphones. Yet the Future Today Institute’s Tech Trends Report, which launched at SXSW, declared the beginning of the end of the smartphone. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean we’ll be having more sex. Instead our eyes will be diverted from the screen as we chat to our digital assistants using conversational interfaces.
 
Who knew our voices were so unique? A voiceprint can determine what room you’re in, how many people you are with and what material the walls are made from. It can also divulge an individual’s health, age and mental health. But what is the responsibility that comes with having all this information? Facebook, for example, created a compassion team where professional first responders work alongside AI on wellness checks. They’ve even reported to have prevented suicides. Mental illness is a growing issue often compounded by social media. If we are designing for people with mental illness, we are designing for the mental wellness of everybody.
 
Our unique identity is not just found in our voice, it’s in our face too. Deep perceptual face mapping can help machines identify individual characteristics under the skin. In China it’s already possible to pay for food simply by smiling at a machine. Talking and smiling are both part of a trend to be much more present in the real-world. A trend that supports augmented reality’s slow and steady growth and will see it creeping up on the much talked about virtual reality, as we seek to combine our digital and physical worlds.
 
What is the future of a designed life? Taking everything I learnt at SXSW I want to share two scenarios. We’ll start with the worst.
 
Catastrophically, we don’t understand how decisions are being made. AI takes over our workforce and we don’t have a back-up. We don’t plan. There’s overpopulation. The wealthy get better treatment and there’s no privacy for the poor. Oh and the nanobots inside us get to decide who lives and who dies.
 
Optimistically, all companies are working together, we’re all wearing wearables and looking into each other’s eyes. It’s the end of social isolation. There’s total transparency in all actions, people understand how decisions are made and trust is restored. We’re living longer, there are no hospital waiting rooms and doctors and robots work together to monitor our health.
 
Creative people, we have the opportunity to make the future “all life” centric. Now is the chance to make the future we want to live in by taking action on the trends in the present.

Kara Melchers is Creativebrief’s Bite editor.

Smorgasbord-wihayo-soju-dylan-griffith-alcohol-packaging-graphic-design-itsnicethat-illustration-for-brand-film-list Work / Opinion Looking east: how Smörgåsbord designed a soju brand to work in Europe and Asia alike

Earlier this month, Coca-Cola announced it would produce its first ever alcoholic drink, an alco-pop to be launched solely in Japan. The idea is to tap into the lucrative market for chu-hi, canned fizzy drinks given a kick with a local spirit called shochu. The world’s largest soft drinks company making its move into this sector is significant, and symbolic of many other western brands trying their luck in the Asian alcohol world where huge brands such as Asahi, Kirin and Suntory already have a presence. But how do you design the branding and packaging for a product aimed at a firmly established market on the other side of the world, as well as back home? Here to enlighten us is Dylan Griffith, co-founder of Cardiff and Amsterdam-based design studio Smörgåsbord, which recently collaborated on the creation of the first European-made soju, Wihayo.

Pregnant_in_the_creative_industry_opinion_international_womens_day_itsnicethat2 Work / International Women's Day What I learned, and worried about, as a pregnant woman in the creative industry

I was never the type of woman to daydream about pushing around a pram. I guess I assumed I would one day, but that vision was in the back of my mind, far overshadowed by ambitions for my career. Since I graduated nearly ten years ago, my priority had been work – I was lucky to have very supportive parents and friends who believed, probably more than me sometimes, that I could be successful. I feel good about where I am now, as news editor at It’s Nice That. I had to fight some pretty awful bosses along the way, one who described me as having “sharp elbows” (if I were a guy that would translate as “ambitious” but that’s a whole other subject); another with an approach to gender equality like that of Sterling Cooper. But it made me tough and I gained respect. Until I got to my late 20s and the comments started coming. Subtle, seemingly harmless jokey comments from family, friends and colleagues that most women around 30 in long-term relationships would recognise. It’s baby time. If you don’t have your usual G&T at the pub, eyes flicker with gleeful suspicion. People outrightly ask you if you want to have kids, like it’s not a hugely personal and weighted life decision that will change everything.

List Features / International Women's Day “We need everyone to wake up.” Google’s Tea Uglow on intersectionality in the creative industries

Tea Uglow is the creative director at Google’s Creative Lab in Sydney. She works with both cultural and creative organisations across the globe exploring the space between technology and the arts and what can happen when they intersect. Her impressive output spans everything from responsive and reactive reading interfaces to immersive, 360-degree performances. She is also a transgender woman. To celebrate International Women’s Day, It’s Nice That got in touch with Tea to find out her opinions on representation and intersectionality within the creative industries.

She_says_list_img Media Partnership / Design Indaba Why Design Thinking is bullshit

For the fifth consecutive year, It’s Nice That has media partnered with Design Indaba. We will be delivering news, interviews and insight live and direct from each day of the three-day conference in Cape Town. The event will be live broadcast via simulcast to a number of South African cities allowing each presentation to resonate around the country.

Alicemann-drummies-photography-itsnicethat-1list Work / Photography Alice Mann's celebratory and empowering photographs of young majorettes

Many photographers turn their lenses on unconventional subjects, but few do so with the celebratory approach of the London-based South African artist Alice Mann. Alice has accumulated an impressive portfolio over the years; her last project documented the London and Paris-based Congolese members of La Sape subculture who use fashion as a means of empowerment. For her latest project, Drummies, Alice chronicles a group of young drum majorettes as they compete across South Africa. “I have been focusing on subcultures that positively affirm collective or individual identity. I try to present viewers with empowering images that are reflective of the way people see themselves and that highlight my subjects’ dignity and confidence,” Alice tells It’s Nice That.

Richard-dowker-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography “I like to work on projects that have an aspect of reality”: Richard Dowker's pink-toned photography

“I am drawn to the regular or unconventional, don’t get me wrong beautiful people are beautiful, but life isn’t always beautiful,” says London-based photographer Richard Dowker. Originally from a village in Cumbria, Richard moved to London at the age of 19 to study photography at Middlesex University. Here, he learned the fundamentals of portraiture, developing a social documentary style which he now channels into his career as a portrait and fashion photographer.

Clementgicquel-finderskeepersleaders-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-7list Work / Graphic Design Clément Gicquel's visual interpretation of the Space Race and the scramble for resources

French graphic designer Clément Gicquel defied odds when he decided to pursue a creative career. Clément grew up in a small town in Brittany where art and culture weren’t exactly top of the social agenda. “To be honest, I don’t have any idea as to what directed me down a creative path during my years growing up,” the French designer tells It’s Nice That. Having graduated from ECAL only last June 2017, Clément has already freelance art directed at top studios such as Jonathan Hares and Ill-studio. This, in turn, has led the young creative to accumulate an impressive portfolio across diverse a range of disciplines from music to architecture to sportswear.

List01-list-img-template-margins-2-up Work / Publication Magazine Us of America captures the truth behind the 'land of the free'

“Us of America strives to present an America that is beautiful and dynamic, but also complicated and messy,” says co-founder Nicole Nodland of the magazine which features work by top photographers like Magnum’s Bruce Gilden, Alec Soth, Larry Fink and Charles Traub. “America is supposed to be the ‘Land of the Free’; a country where everyone has an opportunity to achieve their dreams. However, as pretty much everyone knows, the idea of ‘freedom and opportunity for all’ is unfortunately not the reality.”

Dolly_faibyshev-sumo-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Photographer Dolly Faibyshev takes us into the ring with sumo wrestling champions

Uninspired photographically by her daily surroundings, New York-based photographer Dolly Faibyshev recently found a new muse in the form of sumo wrestlers. Upon hearing about an upcoming sumo event in her home city, “I saw it as an opportunity to experience something distinctly foreign to me because I’d never photographed something like this before,” Dolly tells It’s Nice That.

Johannawalderdorff-illustration-itsnicethat-12list Work / Illustration Johanna Walderdorff is back with more absurd illustrations

The last time we spoke to Johanna Walderdorff she had just moved to Leipzig to concentrate on her large-scale fantastical creations. Since then, the German illustrator has been working nonstop. “I got commissioned for the first time shortly after the last article and I haven’t stopped working since. Last year I found a lovely studio in Kreuzberg, Berlin that makes working long nights an absolute joy. I’m very happy that my illustrations appeal to so many different clients and that they can be used to illustrate a wide range of topics; from a comic about Puccini‘s La Boheme for the Bavarian State Opera in collaboration with Bureau Borsche to monthly posters for underground club Institut fuer Zukunft otherwise known as Leipzig’s Berghain,” Johanna tells It’s Nice That. Her striking creations may be versatile, yet Johanna remains faithful to her aesthetic. Each drawing is populated by some sort of absurd scenario, from surreal dismembered body parts snorting coke and drinking champagne to a horse-man hybrid.

Bafic-daydream-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Bafic's surreal new music video considers the realm of dreams

We’ve been tracing the trail of London-based filmmaker and artist Bafic for quite some time. He’s been making short films since 2009, and among his more recent work you’ll spot a music video for Neneh Cherry Spit Three Times, as well as one for her daughter Mabel’s My Boy My Town, among commercial work for the likes of NikeLab and TfL, Lily Allen and ASOS.

Luke-powell-jody-hudson-powell-bookshelf-itsnicethat-list-alt Regulars / Bookshelf Pentagram's Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell's Bookshelf from their teenage years

In October 2015, brothers Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell became the twentieth and twenty-first partners of design studio, Pentagram. Three years later, they continue to work with an ever-impressive list of clients from the British Fashion Council to London’s Garden Museum. Prior to joining Pentagram, the pair operated under Hudson-Powell: a practice which merged their interests in graphic design and technology resulting in a varied output across print and digital platforms.

Dbb1b800-3fa9-4429-8772-7ffdccfb6406_rw_1200list Work / Digital Artist Reija Meriläinen turns reality TV into a creepy video game

Playing Reija Meriläinen’s eerie computer game Survivor feels something like being in a bad dream. Starting off in a claustrophobic, fleshy cave, where an over-enthusiastic voiceover explains the rules, there’s a sense of foreboding that you can’t quite put your finger on. It doesn’t help that the sound design is a mix between Twin Peaks-y lullaby and animalistic foley work. The doors seem to growl open rather than creek.

Giovanni-corabi-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography The succinct, calm and intimate portraiture of London-based photographer Giovanni Corabi

“I don’t believe that your personal and your commercial work should be two completely different things,” states London-based photographer Giovanni Corabi. Originally from Italy, this belief is evident throughout Giovanni’s portfolio: a quick flick through will leave you at a loss for where one type of project ends and the other begins, the two seamlessly flowing and informing each other.

Design-museum-hope-to-nope-exhibition_illustration-jon-berkeley_cover-design-graeme-james_the-economist-cover-debasing-american-politics_itsnicethat Media Partnership / Graphic Design Hope to Nope: exploring the "pivotal" past decade of graphic design and politics

Contrary to its distinctly present-day focus, the Design Museum’s latest exhibition, Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18, started off as a historical retrospective. Curator Margaret Cubbage and designer of the show, GraphicDesign&’s Lucienne Roberts, discussed beginning in the 50s and 60s, but then Brexit happened. Then Trump. And what was immediately evident was the seismic creative response to global crises. “We suddenly felt there was an urgency to respond to this,” Margaret tells It’s Nice That. “How pivotal graphic design had become to political movements, and how diverse and rich and democratic it was.”

Yutakasatoh-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-2list Work / Graphic Design Yutaka Satoh's designs blur the boundaries between text and visuals

Yutaka Satoh’s posters are the perfect crossover between art and design. With their satisfying colour palettes and considered arrangements of unusual shapes, Yutaka’s creations could just as easily hang on the walls of a gallery as they could advertise upcoming events. The Tokyo-based artist commonly produces posters for exhibitions, concerts and shows alongside his long list of accomplished personal projects. Yet his distinct aesthetics never falter whether he is designing a commissioned piece of work or a stand-alone project; a testament to Yutaka’s loyalty to his craft.

Djsxlhgxoaa7n-d_list Work / Illustration Hiller Goodspeed’s oddball illustrations give us the fuzzies

Without ornamentation to distract or a flashy colour palette to hide behind, it’s hard to make a simple drawing really, really good. But it’s something Vancouver-based illustrator Hiller Goodspeed has totally nailed. His odd, humorous pencil drawings are filled with characters that make us chuckle. Whether hiding in their “safety tube” or celebrating being second place, it’s hard not to be endeared by these funny little fellows.

Press-and-fold-publication-itsnicethat-list-alt Work / Publication Deconstructed Air Max '95s and white t-shirts: Press & Fold launches its first issue

Like many, Hanka van der Voet spent her teenage years hoarding issues of magazines such as The Face, Dutch and i-D, using this material to inspire her own zines. “It seems a bit unavoidable that I was going to set up my own fashion magazine someday,” the Amsterdam-based creative tells It’s Nice That. Currently the head of MA Fashion Strategy at ArtEZ University programme, Hanka recently launched her “inevitable” fashion magazine, alongside graphic designer Beau Bertens.

Karltoomey-digital-itsnicethat-1listlist Work / Digital Designer Karl Toomey's new website reveals his secret dark side

Designer Karl Toomey’s AI assistant Alice may be the worst PA in history. Karl’s latest artwork is his new website, which follows Alice’s stream of consciousness through a robotic voiceover and a string of subtitles on a yellow backdrop. Within the first two minutes of meeting her, she not only discloses Karl’s – no doubt – illegal plans to help facilitate burglary but also his violent tendencies that have been made possible by goose fat and pliers in the past.

Aureliapeter-zett-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Aurelia Peter's considered design approach leads her through uncharted territory

No matter the content of a project graphic designer Aurelia Peter is working on, she starts the process by asking questions. “Which message should be conveyed?” she says, or “What kind of association should be triggered in the viewer?” To answer these creative queries Aurelia begins with a manual approach, sketches which enable “new design approaches” and explain a lot about her approach to typography.

Asusual.111_list Work / Photography Brooke DiDonato’s surreal portraits leave the viewer to fill in the gaps

If you’ve never had the desire to disappear into the background then you’re either a very confident person or a verbally continent one. But for those of us wallflowers with our feet permanently in our mouths, photographer Brooke DiDonato’s As Usual series will have a particular resonance. Mixing the everyday with a touch of the fantastical, Brooke’s photographs capture surreal moments when people are obscured, subsumed or lost in the environments around them. “There is an aspect of performance to this type of photography I really enjoy,” Brooke tells It’s Nice That. “I’m not creating these backdrops; I’m simply using them as a stage.”

Work-vanlist Work / Illustration Illustrator Anna Roberts on the process behind her hyperreal artworks

“I like to focus on the quiet things that I feel deserve attention,” says illustrator Anna Roberts about her hyperreal artworks. From a bag of juicy oranges so real you can almost hear the plastic rustle to light shining through a glass of water with perfect precision, her artworks are so true to life that it’s only after considerable attention that you work out Anna’s quiet moments aren’t in fact photographs.

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