In a piece published in 2021 on my consultancy's blog , I talked about "Growing a new era of trends".
Early February 2021 we hosted our very first Future Vision Presentation on the theme of Rewilding in the Trend atelier Community. We had just opened our doors. It was dynamic, we exchanged on a Miro white board. It wasn't prescriptive because Educational and workshop elements were used to engage everyone's independent thinking.
I've been thinking a lot about the amount of letting go that has been needed to create this format where an entire community thinks through what a trend means, in the moment, together. One member even joked we had rewilded the trend board. Because often my work is through my name. It's the I. But if you know me, you'll know I am all about the We.
So what the hell does Rewilding have to do with this?
"Rewilding is a conservation method to give control back to Nature [...] an action that unfolds through time, agency being passed over from humans to nature" as explained in a recent article here.
The clue is in letting go of dominance.
There's so much talk about the future of this, the future of that, including the future of forecasting. I've been talking about it with students, clients, audiences and I still can't fully wrap my head around it.. I even just created a lecture for this for an upcoming Future Learn course.
The jig is up! We all know forecasting cannibalised itself by ways of commodification, homogenisation and hype. We all know the time is now for an upgrade. So yeah... What's next?
- Wresting with these ramblings of intuition, knowing and confusion, could there be an anchor in Rewilding?
- How would you translate giving control back to nature when it comes to future forecasting?
For me personally, it means stepping away from commodification, one of the most unnatural processes out there that has been eroding our society at large, not just future forecasting. What I mean by commodification is not the ways in which we get paid to forecast for clients. We all have a craft, a trade and have to get paid for it. What I mean is seeing trend forecasting as the gateway to making more money purely for money's sake, more product purely for product's sake.
The future is not a hype.
It shouldn't be considered the holy grail for an extremely stressed out and anxious society neither. It's just a different level of consciousness and a method to equip good decisions for future generations.
What if the very best thing we could do as forecasters, as brands, as creatives today is to rewild our ways of thinking. Or rather go back to our natural wild state? And what is our natural wild state in the first place? Here are some ideas that come to mind:
- Trends embedded in conscious design and action because nature is regenerative by default
- Foresight that is a more communal and ongoing process, interconnected
- Trends that are not wasteful because there is no waste in nature
- Trend insights that are not about a set prediction or motivated by a need for control
There are already amazing ways the debate is playing out, through projects such as Narratopias, the growing practice of Speculative Design, a recent convo on Clubhouse hosted by Future Resources and other forecasters, or projects such as Futuring Peace.
Brick by brick, I am also in the process of updating my mastercourse and recently added a lecture created by speculative Designer Tina Gorjanc. The course is very much embedded in ethics and purpose and that's what students have loved, but I want to set the bar even higher.
The thing is, it's a messy process to question the very nature of what you do.
It's not something that can be controlled yet the trend (no pun intended) seems to be that out of confusion and questioning comes greatness. So let me ask you this:
- If Mother Nature had its way with Forecasting trends, what would it say?
- It might think it's a disease. It might wipe it out. It might bring a harsh winter to make way for healthier seedlings.
- Or it might value it as a beautiful tree and keep it around to feed the squirrels and ... the world.
What do you think?
Personally I think rushing to trend forecasting as the holy grail for your "future present" isn't the answer. The answer is in people, in nature and in the "actual present". It's all here already. There are many methodologies that are fascinating on how to predict trends, new ones popping up, others dying off. But what if growing a new era of trends was about questioning our whole love affair with future trends in the first place?
What is it motivated by? Is it ego? Is it money? Is it anxiety? Is it the need to be better than the next person and dominate? Is it the need for escapism? Is the lack of belief in the present? Is it because one must have someone else tell them what to do?
- Are you in that driver's seat or is it hype that is driving you?
- Or is it because you simply want a better world?
- And in which case, do you need the future to tell you what to do?
Rewilding ourselves would mean accepting you can't control the future, you can't control the process. No matter how many methodologies you apply. We can't control anything except our values, and beliefs and how we serve others. And if future forecasting can help that process, I don't know about you, but that's when I am all in.