Wild’s Design Trends for 2013

At its core, what good design does is solve problems, even as it touches hearts or polarizes audiences. That’s why we asked ourselves 13 key questions about what to expect for design trends in 2013, as we seek to understand the directions the design world is going in.


1. What are the most important things design will bring us in 2013?

Noticeably less bad/poor design.
Genuinely speaking more of a focus on content. Google is setting the global standard, and if you want to be respected, you have to provide good content. In the past, smart marketing tactics were enough, but now something of a tactical resignation is to be felt – we have no choice but to create a good product and churn out good content. In 2013, design, as never before, must produce things that are convenient and easy to operate. Ergonomics in software and hardware will be the yardstick for good design. The keyword usability is becoming increasingly important. Drivers for this sudden turn to quality again include the Internet and the surging worldwide popularity of smartphones and tablets; they set the standard for user interfaces for all products, from kitchen appliances to eye surgery equipment. This is not so easy to realize, because not every industry produces goods on the scale that telecommunications does.


2. What are the largest design movements of 2013?
There isn’t as much buzz around design as there has been in certain past years, but the keyword of “varied design” will nonetheless receive a lot of attention in 2013. Developers will seek design with more substantive uses and value to the core of their intended functions. The luxury and premium market segment will focus more and more on both emerging countries and “so-called emerging” countries. The large, pent-up demand in countries like India, Russia and China will provide lucrative new luxury markets as Europe and the U.S. maintain steady if bland growth figures.


3. What are the needs of consumers?
The days of “me-too” and “the cheaper the better” have come to an end. Finally!  The informed and web-savvy consumer seeks significant added value compared to similar products, with the ultimate goal of getting his or her dream product at the cheapest price. Innovation is required for understanding the consumer’s true desires, and bold moves are rewarded rather than punished. The new doctrine: good enough products and good enough providers, even in high profile sectors like medical.


4. How does sustainability relate to design?
Design is, ultimately, a holistic task. Brands and products, but also marketing and product development must consistently reinvent themselves and the way they interact with each other (see article by Dan Shipper about Jason Fried). The disciplines lose their rigid boundaries, complexity is broached but also curated by experts and moderated. The business partner is the designer and curator. In this hyper-complex task space, the pure cost-benefit model is no longer sufficiently reliable for reaching financial goals; the question of “meaning” and context comes into play more often. Spirituality, as it were, has arrived in the economy.


5. How can companies factor design into their overall strategy?
“Insourcing” the development and design departments can help a company find its design niche, given the right personnel. An understanding is emerging that completely gutted businesses without design, development or manufacturing skills are too weak for the challenges of the future – industry is looking for new ways of learning and expanding their knowledge portfolios. Training and guidance in design and innovation are back in fashion. This leads to increases in medium-term partnerships between businesses and design providers in which transferred knowledge reigns supreme over services rendered.


6. How has competition in the design industry developed?
The number of players in the design field has been rising steadily for years. In addition, the global market has opened up via freelance exchanges, auction portals and low-wage service providers, leading to occasional price wars. Specialization offers only limited protection, but better opportunities exist for breakthrough business models, inventive and innovative processes, and collaborations in the design of new service products to suit the needs of industry. The Internet encourages this. It has never been so easy to be independent, but at the same time, never before has there been so much competition.


7. Which business models will bring designers success in 2013?
Web platforms with commercial functions such as auctions are establishing quickly especially in design sectors. Transparency is an increasingly important priority for buyers.  Significant competition, though, as in all industries, can push companies to be more ambitious. One must be willing to eliminate old habits – “Why does it cost so much?” Shrewdness in 2013 means already having built an efficient network. Whom can I call? Freelancers are generally on the rise and bring the flexible nature of the cooperative movement into the design marketplace more comprehensively. The partner network is a critical success factor. Collaboration and competition can make or break a business (Harvard Business Review: Collaboration is the new competition)


8. What is the financial situation in the design industry?
The long downward spiral in design fees will halt and slowly reverse itself in 2013, particularly for professionals in the fields of product design and branding. Higher fees are matched by higher competence and effectiveness, which in turn were made possible by specialization and streamlined processes. Some design tasks are shifting towards Asia and the Internet, however, including engineering, manufacturing and development, driving up cost pressures associated with time-intensive European development projects.


9. What trends are influencing the design business?
Crowdsourcing and croudfunding, especially since the success of Kickstarter in the U.S., have become well-established ways to aid conventional product development and achieve good growth rates. In Europe, the innovation climate is still somewhat reserved, but even here there are creative people and businesses seeking to optimize their business models to anticipate the new opportunities. The result is a democratization of development activities, as part of what’s called the “Maker Movement”. Chris Anderson (author of “Makers”) describes it as the next industrial revolution. Possible consequence: more and more industries feature established design professionals and thus deprive the dedicated design sector of business.


10. How has design evolved in Germany in particular?
The German economic model is currently recognized and envied worldwide for its ability to be sustainable and recession-resistant at a high level. German entrepreneurs are encouraged by their country’s steady, if comparatively (on a global scale) quiet pace of development, and are thus empowered to take more risks in understanding new things. Mixed with a new openness to external but locally-oriented cooperation, this has led to a strengthening of domestic demand for creative services. A long-term solution to the problems of the “sale of German development force,” unfortunately, is not yet in sight.


11. How is the ongoing globalization of design occurring?
The place where you will be working in 2013 is both important and unimportant. You can be anywhere in the world and still be connected through the cloud. One of the big questions of 2013, however, concerns direct access to the cultures of the target markets. How can one best understand his target audience? Knowing the surroundings and day-to-day life? How do you get information, contacts and insights? The height of the global “One for All” product movement has passed. The best products today are tailored to the tastes and requirements of the new consumers in emerging markets.


12. What are the main tools for designers in 2013?
They’ve finally arrived – cheap 3D printers suitable for everyday use. Pushed by the global “maker” movement, this technology is moving forward exceptionally quickly. It closes the gap between hobby-level “cardboard” designers and their high-end prototype counterparts, and gives designers in 2013 the opportunities that only those with well-equipped mechanical workshops had 25 years ago. Perhaps not quite so obvious, but at least as groundbreaking as the 3D printer, are the collaboration sites popping up in increasing numbers all over the Internet. They serve to accelerate and decentralize design development and open things up for external input. Basecamp is the industry leader, but there are now many similar cloud services. In the future there will be open companies that cooperate with diverse entities as well as “closed” firms that don’t share their innovations. Which strategy proves more successful will depend in large part on the performance and security of the Internet.


13. Stylistically, what are the big trends for 2013? Apple’s style and the formative influence it exudes on the design industry has reached its peak. The world is, indeed, waiting for the “next big thing.”  Apple products will continue to be imitated and copied, but without capturing the dynamics of the full-format touchscreen and precise “aluminum” look. Apple’s values, however, in reality a recycling of the BRAUN design philosophy of the 1960’s and 70’s, has lead to a surge of ideas and content in the design world. In short, the question of style is almost no more, as design is still awaiting the next innovator and the seismic impact it will bring.


Related articles:
> 13 Prognosen zum Design-Jahr 2013/ Originaltext von Markus Wild

> Green – color trend of the year 2013
These were Wild’s design trends for 2013.
What are your predictions for design this year?

Globalization leads to a great deal of distinct perspectives and opinions – what’s yours? Leave a comment with your own personal forecast and we’ll include it.

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Originally written by Miriam Dabrowa, 04. March 2013. Last updated 15. May 2023


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