Trend Forecasting
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2023 and Beyond: In Perspective


Mono-designed products to edible trips, seeds to shoes, sense-gloves to solar blankets: let's take a look at what's in store...

Foresight Team at Seymourpowell

Resource scarcity, supply chain issues, global conflicts and environmental disasters: the fallout from 2022. Despite such global uncertainty, the fires of creativity and innovation still burn bright.

We are facing the future with a new found sense of resilience, optimism and curiosity, in  search of meaningful, connective and explorative experiences.

Working with clients across industries, our Foresight team has had the privilege to work with (and innovate alongside!) experts and the communities behind some of world's fastest evolving technologies and trends.

Our 'In Perspective' series is designed to drill down on the trends which will influence the future direction of industries and brands alike.

Trend & research mapping - [Foresight Team at Seymourpowell]

Extracted from our trend observatory, our Foresight team has distilled 5 of the most progressive and relevant trends which we predict will shake up 2023/4. Each trend was curated with a strong visual and experiential influence, using queues from our client work, studio, talks and exhibitions.

Our Foresight team's 5 trends for 2023/4:

1. Empowering Resilience
2. Negotiating the Metaverse
3. Redefining Purpose
4. Unmasked Joy
5. Exploring Sensorial Escapism

1. Empowering Resilience

Empowering Resilience - [Foresight Team at Seymourpowell]

Global conflicts, climate change and the supply chain emergency have created the perception of a perpetual crisis and as global uncertainty reigns, people have adopted a resilient attitude. Embracing self-sufficiency and locality, consumers and businesses take drastic action to confront the many challenges our world faces. Solar energy, off-grid concepts and regenerative systems are some of the ingenious solutions being explored to address a planet-positive future.

Mireille Steinhage
Solar Empowerment

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Studio Floris Schoonderbeek and Sweco
Local Food Systems

The Circle Farming project, from Studio Floris Schoonderbeek and Sweco, provides a comprehensive solution to bridge the gap between urban and rural food production. This community revolves around agricultural-circled fields and provides housing, nature, and recreation on the fringes of the green space.

Sunne by Marjan van Aubel
Designing with Sunlight

Sunne, by Marjan van Aubel, is a solar-powered, indoor light which stores, produces, and captures light. It harvests energy from the sun during the day: at night, it brings light inside.

Mireille Steinhage
No Space for Waste

Designed by Frank Gehry, the Luma Arles Arts centre in France has been clad with a progressive palette of locally produced, natural materials, including salt, algae, and sunflower waste.

Syntropia Re-FREAM
From Seed to Shoe

The Syntropia Re-FREAM project, initiated by Sophia Guggenberger and Eugenia Morpurgo, explores the regeneration of ecosystems through circular manufacturing, from 'seed to shoe'. The shoe's framework is unique, designed to be flexible and modular, made from bio-based materials harvested from one polycultural field.

Grassroots activists, designers, and smaller community initiatives are reimagining a more socially-equitable and sustainable world. We can see shifts in innovation pushing towards renewable energy, regenerative material processes and sustainable farming practices in an effort to bring us closer to nature. However, the continued presence of the 'green-premium' on sustainable, everyday solutions acts as a barrier to access for many consumers.

Get ahead

As demand increases for more self-sufficient and local solutions (without a green premium!) explore how you can create opportunities to democratise sustainability and increase accessibility and equitability for the everyday consumer.

2. Negotiating the Metaverse

Negotiating the Metaverse - [Foresight Team at Seymourpowell]

As the new digital world is unfolding, a tension is emerging between utopian and dystopianvisions. There is much negative speculation around the Metaverse, with Twitter's co-founder, Jack Dorset, viewing it as a playground for "venture capitalists", and others worrying about its possible misuse, injustice or exploitation. Others, however, attempt to foster a positive narrative around a more inclusive space. NFTs and blockchain open up new forms of digital ownership where brands, consumers, and creators harness a more equitable and transparent relationship. As the lines blur between our physical and virtual world, the 'human' need for individuality and connection is driving innovation.

Digital Embodiment

In an attempt to ensure that people with disabilities feel comfortable when on their platforms, Decentraland and Snapchat are expanding their range of adaptive wearables and assistive devices. Users will be able to add accessories such as running blades and hearing aids to their avatars.

Combatting Inequity

A Metaverse meet-up platform has been designed to combat social inequalities which exist on other Web 3.0 platforms. Nowhere developers have designed the platform to remove barriers to access: you don't need an NFT or crypto wallet to join, thus reducing financial and technical requirements. The 3D voice chat feature increases the volume of a user's voice as they move closer to you, making contact more authentic and frictionless.

Sunne by Marjan van Aubel
The 'Digital Workforce'

Soul Machines is a personalized, AI-based simulation service with a Human OS platform. It features a patented 'Digital Brain' which helps deliver human and machine collaboration. It's designed to democratise the service industry, with digital 'people' placed in the WHO and New Zealand police.

Meta Touch

Wireless gloves from Dutch start-up, SenseGlove, let users feel the size, weight, texture and density of virtual objects when worn with VR headsets.

Institute of Digital Fashion
Avatar Representation

Research by Institute of Digital Fashion shows that people want more choices for diverse representation in online spaces. There are clear demands from consumers for: better accommodations (including text to accompany audio) and avatar customisation which takes into account bodily differences.

From adaptive wear and assistive devices to simulating virtual touch, there is a shift towards the creation of more 'humanoid' experiences. Navigating the ethics, accessibility and equitability of the space opens up new opportunities and challenges for future innovation.

Get Ahead

We are rapidly moving towards a more phygital world, and are redefining what it means to be human. As a brand innovating in this space, how can you create a more 'humanoid' experience to facilitate stronger social connections and better represent what it means to be human?
In a muddle over the Metaverse? Check out our Metaverse 101.

3. Redefining Purpose

Redefining Purpose - [Foresight Team at Seymourpowell]

The climate crisis, resource scarcity and the cost of living emergency fuel a desire for more meaningful experiences. Timeless design, clean lines and crafted materiality drive a minimal aesthetic. A stark contrast to the dreamy aesthetics of the Metaverse, this trend largely manifests in the physical world. This new 'less is more' mentality is accelerating innovative concepts and materials for the circular economy.

On Running
New Subscription Models

On Running products are not owned by the user, but rather accessed via a subscription-based model, Cyclon. Considering that running shoes need to be replaced regularly in order to ensure performance, this strategy eliminates waste, minimising the impact of individual ownership.

Tech Repair

At the Salone del Mobile 2022, Miele's 'Longevity Lab' used an exploded installation to communicate the brand's inherited value around longevity. The brand celebrated their policy of keeping spare parts available for fifteen years after a home appliance is discontinued, encouraging everyone to care for and repair their home equipment.

Sunne by Marjan van Aubel
Reimagined Touchpoints

In a project with ECAL, Yamaha proposes an alternative approach to physical interaction with sound-play devices. Incorporating AI, live-streamed performances and ASMR, the students designed six new music players and accessories which offer a novel music listening experience, as well as physical appeal.

Paul Coenen
Mono Material

Paul Coenen folds a single sheet of steel to create furniture which is designed to be passed from generation to generation. The mono-material furniture and homeware collection offers superior durability through the use of stainless steel without the need for added coatings, adhesives or fasteners.

Disruptive Berlin
Anti-impulsive Consumerism

Disruptive Berlin offers its community an alternative lifestyle and perspective when it comes to consumerism. With an exclusive password-protected shopping area on their site and Instagram channel, they encourage consumers to question their potentially 'impulsive' decisions before buying new/ second-hand clothing.

Repair schemes, waste-reducing subscription models, and multi-generational furniture design all promote an alternative approach to design which prioritises durability and longevity. Finding actionable solutions and circular opportunities can be a challenge: we have found that both our Accelerator Tool and Sustainable CMF Index help brands to access their products and internal processes.

Get Ahead

'Brand purpose' is the buzzword too often associated with unmet promises. It's time to reframe your purpose, make achievable pledges and evaluate your design decisions against a design DNA rooted in durability, longevity and transparency.

4. Unmasking Joy

Unmasking Joy - [Foresight Team at Seymourpowell]

We have seen a rise in the demand for more positive representation and inclusive spaces, as neurodiversity, disability, LGBTQ+IA, and mental health movements take centre stage. Many are fighting back against existing perceptions and demanding a change in narrative around previously marginalised topics. We are seeking to inject more moments of joy and optimism into our lives, as we celebrate and embrace each others differences. Gathering with likeminded, creative communities, generating a new energy around collaboration and solutions which pave the way for a brighter future.

Inclusivity is Key

Microsoft has reinvented the humble mouse as part of their new 'Adaptive Accessories' range. Intended to be a kit of tools the design is customisable to aid accessibility and ensure an easier mouse and keyboard experience for people with disabilities, they're acknowledging that everybody is different with varying abilities and needs.

Stronger Together

Bethany Williams is building a practice that seeks to challenge the traditional fashion industry. From garments made from recycled book waste to collaborations with community projects, her work tackles social and environmental issues.

 Yinka Ilori
Bright Spaces

Yinka Ilori opens his first a pop up retail store in Shoreditch. Featuring his signature colourful, bright motifs, the space is inspired by West African architecture and features his homeware products. The aim of the space is to explore how we can help customers connect, experience and discover.

Brothers Fearon Fabrication
Playful Furniture

Australian studio Brothers Fearon Fabrication creates funky and tactile aluminium furniture pieces, some with whimsical character faces, showcasing pure fun and enjoyment.

Menstruation for All

Modibodi's new All Gender Collection brings non-binary and transgender men into the conversation around menstruation. The campaign brings inclusive design to the forefront, through the LGBTQ+IA colour palette, and accessible design for all body types and genders.

Vibrant colour palettes, inclusive products and collaborative spaces are some of the best ways in which design can bring optimism and happiness into our lives. We see the trend of unmasking joy entering the food, tech, and fashion industries, bringing inclusivity to the fore. Joy is a force to be reckoned with: its power to bring people together and make positive change should not be underestimated.

Get Ahead

The manifestation of joy will no longer be limited to a colour palette, novel add-on or fun feature. As a brand, how could you harness the power of co-creation to bring about happiness and optimism, whilst creating inclusive spaces for your community?

5. Exploring Sensorial Escapism

Exploring Sensorial Escapism - [Foresight Team at Seymourpowell]

Many of us are finding relief in the experiential. We are turning to our 33 senses for new forms of escapism. Micro-dosing and psychedelics are becoming more mainstream as the 'alternative wellness' movement evolves. We are encouraged to explore the surreal and the 'feel good vibes' on offer from these multi-sensorial experiences. When tapping into nostalgia and wonder, we seek to engage our subconscious with our perpetual search for more powerful and thought-provoking experiences.

Jean Paul Gaultier
Psychedelic Prints and Patterns

In 2023, we will see trippy patterns, fluid and exaggerated forms and fun colour combinations dominate the fashion and interior industries. Jean Paul Gaultier's high-neck, long-sleeved top is a prime example.

 Jonathan Bocca
Curious Forms

Jonathan Bocca uses everyday materials (like paper) to craft strange animal-esque objects. Bridging the gap between sculpture and furniture, his otherworldly pieces take on a personality of their own, pushing the boundaries of traditional forms.

 Yinka Ilori
Expect the Unexpected

Full of weird and wonderful delights, the Strange Clay Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery illustrates the tactile, sensual medium of clay and its endless possibilities: from fantastical creatures and uncanny representations of the everyday to expending the perception of ceramic objects.

Dopamine Land
Dopamine Land

A multi-sensory experience which combines media, technology and play, all in one place. It's an interactive museum which channels the limitless imagination of your inner child into reality.

Ka! Empathogenics
Edible Trips

Ka! Empathogenics are chews which are designed to help users handle moments of stress. It's the first ever natural empathogenic supplement, containing botanicals like Kanna, a South African psychoactive herb, which helps to boost energy, focus and creativity.

The psychedelic patterns, edible trips, distortion of everyday objects and immersive dream-fuelled experiences encourage curiosity as we attempt to immerse our senses in order to escape from reality. We have explored materiality extensively in our SenseLab. Over the past couple of years, this trend has extended way past the aesthetic, filtering into other areas of our interactions and interfaces, such as how we consume, experience and travel.

Get Ahead

What if we actively encouraged sensorial escapism in our creative processes? How will alternative wellness shape our view on creativity, in the future?
This piece was brought to you by the Foresight Team at Seymourpowell