Consumer & Design Trend Forecasting for Interiors…..

Mention Trend Forecasting to most people and the majority are unsure what it’s about; and those that have heard of it, well they mostly associate it simply with pattern and colour.

But, to use it so, is to almost completely waste the true value a good consumer & interiors product Trend Forecaster can add to a company’s success. There are very few business tools available that, if used well, are guaranteed to improve business performance, no matter how you measure that. The more broadly the Trend research information is integrated into a company’s activities, the greater the performance improvement will be. A results and performance uplift might be seen in production as design costs reduce, PR success increases as content marketing is improved, product ranges can be smaller and the number of ‘slow-moving lines’ reduced; sales will increase as product & service offers better match the wants, needs & desires of your customers. The story telling and content meets the same degree of success in both B2C and B2B sectors. All of this ultimately leads to better profits.

Yes, our Trend Forecasting for the interiors market will do all of that!

WHY?

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The biggest, most valuable resource that Scarlet Opus Trend forecasting gives to a product development team, manufacturer, retailer, interior designer or marketing strategy is…. ‘TIME’. The pressure on all of the business teams in any company, is significantly reduced because our trend research extends the time in which the total business cycle has, to be completed. No need to ‘spot trends’ at an exhibition(s), hope you’re right & then rush to bring your version of a product/service to market before the trend diminishes; engage with Trend Forecasting which will provide you with the same inspiration 12 – 18 months ahead of that exhibition being visited. You’ll gain more as you’ll also gain trend/consumer back stories to build your content marketing; you’ll get specific material, pattern, texture, shape & colour guidance as well as being able to explain ‘why’ this will all match with future consumer desires.

Trend Forecasting for interiors will give you a detailed view of those consumer desires up to 2 years in advance of the point at which your product should be brought to market. 2 YEARS! As a general view this could be increased to 5 years.

Imagine knowing the detail of what your customers will desire in 2 years’ time and knowing with certainty.

Research shows that company employees work more efficiently when they are relaxed & confident. Designers are more creative, salespeople convert more sales & PR events run more smoothly. If the risk associated with New Product Development or Services development is significantly reduced; your staff can focus on creating the best PR, producing excellent content marketing, targeted marketing support materials and preparing, rehearsing and enacting sales presentations that will demonstrate to buyers how well your company understands what consumers want and will pay to get.

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Dr. Robert Passikoff (Founder of Brand Keys) says of 2014:

Consumers Expect More: Over the past five years, consumer expectations have increased on average by 20%. But brands have kept up only by 5% annually, a big gap between what’s desired and what’s delivered. The ability to accurately measure real, unarticulated expectations will provide significant advantages to brands that can engage and delight.

This describes beautifully, the gap that consumer, business & design Trend Forecasting will fill for any company. Why then aren’t more companies engaging with Trend Forecasting? The answer might lie in these 2 thoughts:

  1. It requires taking, quite a’ leap of faith’ to engage with someone who tells you that they can ‘see your future in detail & with certainty’!
  2. It’s possible that Creatives see Trend Forecasting agencies as an external design source; instead of an external design resource.

Trend analysts, spotters, reporters, colour & trend consultants all play valuable roles; but only a Trend Forecaster can create so much time and:

  • Inspire design teams to create products in materials with textures, patterns & colours that the consumer will want to buy. It’s global social, political, cultural & natural events that influence how humans behave & want to surround themselves with.
  • Inform sales teams how to support product presentations with trend information that will help buyers to choose their products to meet consumer demand.
  • Give Marketing teams an understanding of what caused a trend to emerge & how the consumer will feel as a result. Excellent content marketing will follow and help to leverage consumer marketing by suppliers of complimentary products.
  • Identify which trends specifically suit a company and its product offer/sector; enabling a more focused product offer to be developed. A trend forecaster will identify which trend next year is best suited to ‘Bathroom’, or ‘Dining’?
  • It’s crucial to identify trends for interiors that have longevity giving manufacturing/sourcing teams the opportunity to optimise production planning.
  • Produce inspirational PR events especially for the trade press always hungry for future trend information. ‘Expert’ endorsement is gaining traction with consumers over ‘celebrity’ endorsement.
  • Design exhibition stands reflecting ‘future trend themes’ making them stand out and provide a unique ‘visitor experience’.
  • Design retail showrooms to deliver a shopping experience the consumer wants. Men & Women shop differently.
  • Assist buyers translate Trend research into design briefs for manufacturing partners; or buying guidance for retailers.

There is so much value that Trend Forecasting adds to a company’s activities in all areas that it needn’t actually, even include the obvious product development. A business with a ‘fixed’ product design can still be more successful marketing it’s products within the framework of consumer wants, needs and desires.

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It’s realistic to engage a good Trend Forecaster with the expectation that sales revenues will increase by double digit percentages, with a similar reduction in relative costs.

Contact phil@scarletopus.com Tel +44 1482 870 360 www.scarletopus.com www.twitter.com/scarletopus

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Women Today

SP PRHello again lovely Trends Blog readers! It’s so good to be back!

A few weeks ago, Victoria invited me to guest blog for International Women’s Day. Always one of my favourite postings when I was at Scarlet Opus, I of course readily accepted. We had a bit of a brainstorm and, inspired by women including IBM Chairwoman & CEO, Virginia Romelty, and Yahoo President & CEO, Marissa Mayer, decided the focus would be women at the top of their game in traditionally male dominated industries.

I began with a quick bit of research and was genuinely shocked to discover that even at the top level, in 2012 the 10 highest-paid female CEOs in the US, collectively pulled in nearly $190 million in comparison to a staggering $609 million earned by the 10 highest-paid male CEOs.

Not long after, I joined a conversation on Twitter started by Elaine Cameron, Futurist & Director of Strategic Research at Future Perspective. Elaine had shared a link to the below video, “What the Media Actually Does to Women”, by Jean Kilbourne in which Jean invites us to look at familiar images of women in a new way, moving and empowering us to take action:

220px-JeanKilbournedr jean kilbourne. superstar lecturer

Jean is internationally recognised for her pioneering work on the image of women in advertising, helping to develop and popularise the study of gender representation in advertising. She is the author of the award winning book, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, whilst her award-winning films, Killing Us Softly, and Still Killing Us Softly, have influenced millions of college and high school students across two generations, around the globe.

Follow Jean on Twitter @jeankilbourne

Thinking about Jean’s lecture and this posting led me to wonder at the complexity of the period we’re currently living in where at one end of the spectrum women are literally smashing through the glass ceilings long ago put in place by men, and at the other, some of the world’s most naturally beautiful women (and that’s not to say unintelligent) are still allowing themselves to be objectified to a degree that’s arguably worse than ever, and on top of that, the majority of us (yes probably you too!) are still entranced by these images, striving to be skinnier, more toned, with bigger lips, a smaller nose, and thicker hair… the list goes on.

Jean highlights Kate Winslet’s disparaging response to her heavily photoshopped image, a perfect example of the attitude more women must adopt towards how they are portrayed in the media. Take back the control ladies, in sitting back quietly and accepting it as standard practise I wonder if we ourselves are keeping the door open for the inequalities and outrageous perceptions by our male peers still in play today:

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tracy chou. software engineer. pinterest

Tracy is a rising-star software engineer at Pinterest. Before Pinterest she interned at both Facebook and Google, turning down an offer from Facebook to become the second engineer hired at Quora. She holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford.

I follow Tracy on Twitter and not long ago read one of her tweets referring to an obnoxious comment she’d received at a corporate event:

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Yet again, I was astounded at this attitude at such a level and so when I got in touch with Tracy I asked if this happens frequently: “I haven’t had this happen to me as much recently. I think that’s primarily a function of a couple factors: 1. I don’t go to those sorts of events as much anymore. 2. The events that I do go to, I tend to know more of the people, and they know that I’m an Engineer and that I’m serious about my work.

There’s just still a lot of bias left in the field, unfortunately. The percentage of women in the field is very low. [Latest 2014 figures record only 12% of all software engineers are female.] While it’s hard to tease out which things are correlation or causation, or the directionality of causation, the fact that the percentage is so low definitely doesn’t help people to work past the stereotypes. Many people, male and female, will never get a chance to work with female engineers, so it’s hard to start seeing us as individuals instead of a stereotype.”

SP What made you want to pursue a career in software engineering?

TC It’s a great career path, well compensated, very flexible; the work is intellectually interesting, creative, collaborative, impactful, and relevant to society.

But it was not clear to me that I wanted to be a software engineer until I actually took my first job as one, and even a year into that I was still doubtful of my choice. In college, I chose to not major in computer science because I was intimidated by my (mostly male) classmates and didn’t feel like I belonged. I eventually did a Master’s in CS, pressured by a good friend who knew better than I did what was good for me, but even after that I wasn’t particularly committed to CS/software.

[I eventually did give software engineering an earnest try] but it wasn’t easy, and I did feel lonely and out-of-place for a long time. There were certainly a lot of heart-to-hearts with friends in and out of the industry, and many tears involved. I questioned many times whether I had the mental fortitude to be a female software engineer, and I questioned whether I could encourage younger women to go into the field when I myself could barely keep it together.

It got better when I found one close friend at work, another female software engineer, and I realized I wasn’t alone. Some people reached out to me, and I reached out to some other people, and I found more kindred souls. It helped too that I got a lot more involved with the community, connecting with people on Twitter, meeting people 1:1, volunteering with mentorship programs, generally being present at events and meet-ups.

When I switched jobs, it was a natural reset and I made a conscious effort to invest in my social network outside of work. That was actually entirely sufficient for my mental health and happiness to have friends outside of work, but as the company grew and more people joined I also became good friends with a number of coworkers. If you just imagine that you’ll jive with some percentage of the population that has similar interests and/or is compatible values- and personality-wise with you, and you increase the total number of people that you encounter or interact with, the number of people that you’ll click with also increases.

SP What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your quick rise to success?

TC It’s very flattering that you would characterize me as having had a “quick rise to success” :)

I think the greatest challenge has been self-doubt. Impostor syndrome is well documented as a common affliction for girls and women in the STEM fields [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] – I have never been immune to it. This lack of confidence naturally makes it much more difficult to engage in the sort of self-promotion that is important for manoeuvring professionally; and it also manifests as a greater need for external validation, when not all environments will afford very much of that.

SP Do you ever feel your age or gender stands against you?

TC Yes. Definitely much more so gender than age, because the Valley seems to worship youth and young founders and early success.

As for gender, I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to establish trust with my co-workers now and they know me and my work, but I often feel that I have more to prove and that people still tend to apply a discount on their expectations of my abilities because I am female.

SP What advice would you give to young women today starting out in their career as a software engineer?

TC You’ll find friends, and it won’t be so lonely :) Don’t give up on something that you love and that is a great professional opportunity too.

Follow Tracy on Twitter @triketora

Despite being smart, savvy women, fully aware of the extensive airbrushing applied to the images we see in print, online, and onscreen, fully aware of the opportunities we now have to fulfill our potential as human beings – reminded of the fact by so many wonderful role models – I can’t help but come back to the point that we still strive to look exactly like the airbrushed 15 year old model!

How and why is that?!

I wonder if on the climb up the ladder, as women we fight a myriad internal and external battles, and in the process lose some of our integrity, adopting tougher, male-like qualities in order to succeed. In putting together today’s posting I contacted a number of successful women around the globe in various industries. Of the very few that actually replied and agreed to contribute, I was disappointed that only Tracy and Jean kept to their word (that’s not to say I was disappointed to only be including Tracy and Jean’s contributions of course!).

With this loss of integrity perhaps a steely, unapproachable image is also projected, as women we feel we can no longer relate and so we continue to turn back to the familiar, and what we perceive to be, more “friendly” images of women we have grown to accept in the media…

Last year I read Caitlin Moran’s, How To Be A Woman, and am proud to call myself a feminist; I can’t help but feel the battle is far from won. We must take our lead from women like Kate Winslet – speaking out against the accepted standard, and Tracy – overcoming our self-doubts and fighting to equalise expectations.

I’d like to extend my greatest thanks to Tracy Chou for so openly sharing her experiences and opinions, and to Jean Kilbourne for her fantastic work and contribution to today’s posting.

I know the lovelies at Scarlet Opus are always happy to hear from you, so do share your comments and views on today’s posting, or why not let everyone know what you’re doing in honour of International Women’s Day.

Thank you for having me back as a guest blogger Scarlet Opus… until next time!

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Oscar Film Nomination Inspired Style – Gravity

In anticipation of the 2014 Oscars (to be held on 2nd March) I’ve put together three looks – for the Home, Him and Her inspired by Director Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity – nominated for 9 awards this year including Best Picture.

Gravity is an emotional story of isolation and survival, after Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) find themselves stranded in space after an explosion of debri hit their ship. In terms of special effects, the film is visually stunning – it is incredibly realistic of the atmosphere around the vast solar system.

GRAVITY

Gravity links perfectly with one of our Spring/Summer 2014 trends: Limitless Universe. This trend is inspired by space exploration, scientific and technological innovation, and the collision of the natural and supernatural. A celestial, shimmering, digital aesthetic of light-filled colours is created with a future-modern feel. You can see elements of this in the montages below:

For the Home:

HOME GRAVITY

Above: 1. Light Space by Jade Doel Design 2. Moonlight Wall Sticker by i3Lab on Etsy 3. Astronaut Close-Up Pillow by Geography Handmade on Etsy 4. Crab Nebula Galaxy Pillow by Geography Handmade on Etsy 5 and 6. Beware The Moon Wallpaper at Rockett St George 7. Moon Night Light by Kikkerland on Amazon 8. Moonlight Cushion by Thumbs Up! on Amazon 9. Star-Forming Region Fabric on Spoonflower 10. 64 Moons of Jupiter Shower Curtain at Urban Outfitters 11. Moon Glass by Tale Design 12. NASA Plate by Classic Antique on Etsy 13. Moon Rug by ATYPYK 14. Orbit Light Sculpture by Amy Holloway Design

For Her:

GRAVITY HER

Above: 1. Harper’s Bazaar Russia Editorial 2. Seagull Moon Print Dress by Emma Cook at ASOS 3. Moon Boots at ASOS 4. Mystic Galaxy Dress by Sister Jane at Topshop 5. Galaxy Nails by Chalkboard Nails 6. Purple Galaxy Ring by Juju Treasures 7. Space Jacket by Betabrand 8. Constellation Earrings by Think Geek 9. Rodarte Fall 2014 10. Sagan Galaxy Skirt by Shadow Play NYC 11. Space Dust Nail Polish in Total Eclipse by Rimmel London 12. NASA Tank Tee by Sarmaek on Etsy 13. Full Moon Stud Earrings by Iris Jane on Etsy 14. Galaxy Print Toiletries Bag by My Wife Your Wife on Etsy

For Him:

gravity him

Above: 1. Lunar Hoody by Billionaire Boys Club 2. Luna Skin iPhone Case by Posh Projects 3. Orbit Watch by Ziiiro 4. Space Wallet by Backerton Spectrum on Etsy 5. Sprayground Galaxy Backpack from Topman 6. HYPE X Lusardi London Space Dust Watch from Topman 7. Lady Space T-Shirt by Paul Smith Jeans 8. iPad Case by Cafe Press 9. Earth Cufflinks by Juju Treasures 10. LunarTerra Arktos Boots by Nike 11. Cargo Trousers by Ralph Lauren 12. Planets Print T-Shirt by Paul Smith Jeans

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Surface Design Show 2014 – London

On Wednesday 5th February (despite the chaos of the tube strikes!) I visited the Surface Design Show, at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. It’s the third year I’ve been to the show, and it’s always interesting to see what’s new in the world of Surface Design. Arguably, the University of Huddersfield and Somerset College’s stands were the most exciting with a range of students and graduates’ experimental work in a variety of specialisms. SCIN‘s innovative Material Library was also great; showing some of the most cutting-edge surfaces and materials for interior and architectural use. In no particular order, here are the photographs of 5 of my favourite pieces from the show:

1. Alusion

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Alusion create aluminium panels for interior and exterior use.The aluminium’s surface partially removed, using a patented blasting process. This creates the striking molten, cellular-like finish with a shimmering silver skin.

2. Caroline Hough

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Caroline is a Textile and Surface Designer from Somerset College, and I loved her experimental wood casting with concrete – the natural, raw materials looked particularly great with the contrasting gold metallic details.

3. Objects in Glass

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There was a definite abundance of glass at the show this year – but Objects in Glass’ work particularly caught my eye. They encase objects and materials inside glass – anything from skeleton leaves to mobile phone parts! I particularly liked the metal effects (Lustre-Glaze above) and, in contrast, the sheer woven fabrics.

4. Altfield

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I love Altfield’s beautifully textural textile wallcoverings – their use of everything from metal leaf, to silk fibres, to woven natural grasses are innovative, yet luxurious.

 5. Eden Anglo French

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This wood veneer merchant had an interesting range of decorative (both natural and engineered) veneers at the show and displayed a great use of colour.

 I’m looking forward to seeing what the Surface Design Show has to offer next year, during my final year at Huddersfield University!

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