Fjord’s 2016 Design Trends Report Is Heavy on VR and ‘Atomization’
It’s that time of year, when designers, consultants, and thinkers in general start talking about themes to watch for in the coming year. Fjord is one such design firm. The company, which consulting firm Accenture bought in 2013, puts out an annual trends report to capture, in broad strokes, the topics designers should “expect to tackle in the coming year.”
You’ll probably recognize some trends. The rise of voice recognition technology, virtual reality as an emerging medium, and the uptick in health data are developments that we’ve all talked a lot about this year. But embedded in the report are some burgeoning applications of good design that we’ve talked about a bit less. They’re worth mulling over.
Take the “atomization of apps,” or the end of the standalone app. Omnipresent services are happening already—Fjord uses the example of Spotify, which exists as much on your laptop as it does in your Uber—but are likely to seep into other parts of our lives. From the paper: “Visa is researching the commerce-connected car that pays for groceries, takeaways and fuel—literally payments (and collection) on wheels.”
There’s the rise in employee experience, or “EX”, design. “It was the fastest growing category of work at Fjord in 2015 across many industries, from banking to telecom to pharma,” says the report. When it comes to workplace tools like T&E reports or timesheets, even some progressive companies are woefully behind. To lure better talent from younger generations, businesses might want to pay attention to this decidedly unsexy category.
There’s also a section called “For the people” that looks at how governments are finally embracing design for social good. Some of this has to do with introducing in-house design standards, but the report highlights ways agencies can work with citizens. Consider the Mobile Justice app, made in tandem with the Black Lives Matter movement: “The app has a simple feature allowing smartphone owners to send video footage directly to the American Civil Liberties Union—all with the simple shake of a phone. The ACLU then systematically reviews it for potential legal action.”
Read the full report here.
— New York Times Books (@nytimesbooks) December 13, 2015
Book covers have to do a lot of work. In his review of 2015’s best book covers, Matt Dorfman, art director of The New York Times Book Review, describes that kind of work. “The covers that lure me into the pages,” he writes, “often do so by posing questions that I don’t want to ignore.”
What’s cool about this, at least right now, is that book cover designers seem to have more devices than ever at their disposal to pose these questions. There are certain rules, for sure, as master designer Peter Mendelsund—who has a design in this round up—has told us before. But designers can still thank Amazon and other e-outlets for this newfound liberation: because book covers often appear next to titles and the author name, designers are less beholden to promoting any kind of information hierarchy. To wit, if you scan the Times’s 12 picks for dust jackets, you’ll see that art, in the form of lavish illustrations, sometimes trumps legibility. Consider the excellent GIF cover for César Aira’s The Musical Brain. Designed by Rodrigo Corral and Zak Tebbal, it’s a killer merging of two technologies—one ancient, and one new.