Forecasting for Design Futures – Li Edelkoort

A Trends Forecast by world renowned trend forecaster, Li Edelkoort, is a rare privilege to attend, as several of the IPL Design team recently discovered.

At IPL we view design as both cyclical and ever-evolving, which is why, though we may not always agree with trend forecasts in their entirety, we’re always interested in how they relate to different design disciplines, and to packaging in particular.

Edelkoort is a publisher, humanitarian, educator and curator. Her Paris-based company, Trend Union, produces forecasts used by strategists, designers and marketeers at brands from Armani to Zegna, and in all price points from Zara to Prada.  She is also a Dean at Parsons in New York where she establishes New York Textile Month each September. She has been named by TIME Magazine as one of the Most Influential People in Fashion and by Icon Magazine as one of the Most Influential People in Design.

Below are some of our take-outs from her latest design trend thoughts:


As a diverse world of different cultures and beliefs we are, in fact, becoming more united in design that we are apart.

In many instances, design in the here and now is also attempting to reflect a happier, more optimistic feel.

Much of this reflection and appearance is seen to be part of an attempt to ‘repair the damage’ and contradict much of the separatism, fear and brutality we are currently witnessing in the world right now.

As forces, governments and movements continue to lean further towards separatist policies and nationalism, in design (be this in decor, fashion or product) we’re witnessing increased emphasis on ‘togetherness’ and ‘sameness’; a celebration of universal trends that show that, as different cultures, we have more in common than we might imagine. 

In this way, folklore and folk-like craft is becoming ever more celebrated and important.

We’re witnessing how Scandinavian designs and patterns are, in fact, so similar to Mexican, South African, Syrian and Iranian designs and embellishments that are being utilised so much in design of all shapes and forms right now. These different shapes and patterns celebrate the beauty of different cultures yet also ‘link the world together’ in global unity.


Important too, as a part of the above idea, are embellishments: ribbons, patterns, braiding and belt elements; those details of design that include ‘wrapped styles.  In fashion this tanslates to textile belts of loose structure and style but bold statement. In other elements of design and gifting this translates to more attention to detail – creating an appearance that is more thoughtful and polished.


Internationally, we’re witnessing a re-celebration of labour and the workforce in all elements of design; a resurgence of things crafted yet utilitarian in appearance.

In fashion we see this expressed through vintage-style overalls and dungaree-type wear. In design this is expressed through what we’d probably term the ‘humanness’ of things! Interestingly, we’re increasingly embracing and valuing human involvement and craftsmanship, even in this new age of Artificial Intelligence. Ultimatlely; handmade and handcrafted remains king!


Quilting is undoubtedly making a comeback. This age-old craft is a direct counteract to waste and ‘throwaway culture’ i.e. using fabrics and materials in a creative and hand-crafted way so as to eliminate and reduce textile waste.

Quilting, by the very natue of the craft, practices sustainability. And, as a concept, sustainability represents everything from fair trade practices to eco-friendly material, textile waste, inclusivity, diversity and much more  beyond.


Brown is the new black!!
It’s the ‘Brown Age’. NOTE: This is NOT a return to the 80’s. This is a entirely new age. 
Where once a black background with floral designs would counteracted patterning or other eye-catching details: now a brown background works WITH patterning and colours (especially blushes and pinks etc.) to complement a look and create a softer, more fluid appearances that is, once again, all about harmony..

Terracotta too, is a colour making its comeback in decor and design. Softer and earthier than black it is also a move away from the greys, charcoals and monochromatic colours we’ve been seeing for decades now.

The following is also true, expresses Edelkoort: ‘Everything we love is in fact brown – coffee, chocolate, bread, biscuits, gravy, caramel”…. Watch out! We’ll alll soon be on the gravy train!


Japanese design is contiuing to be applied and infused with contemporary products to stunning effect. 

Japanese design is lauded for the beauty it finds in simplicity. Often, we describe it with words like minimalist, elegant, and subtle and with objects that literally ‘fool our eyes’; something could weigh a ton but still be seen as airy and light. This isn’t a coincidence. Japanese aesthetics are rooted in ancient ideals that act as guidelines for objects look and feel.

Of all the principles, wabi-sabi is the most well known. It exemplifies a mindful approach to life. This is influenced by Japanese Buddhism, in which all things are considered as either evolving from or disappeaingr into nothingness. In this case, ‘nothingness’ means potentiality, where things grow and change but are never complete.

Says IPL Odendaal, Innovation and Design Manager for IPL Packaging, “We see much of what Edelkoort mentions in her latest forecast as translating through to design progression in the packaging world.”

“Design in its multi-disciplinary nature has the ability to present a more global cultural community. This is currently reflected in the cross-pollination of visual languages, textures, patterns and forms seen in visual communication and packaging,” he explains. “This is distinct a move away from the predominantly western, masculine perspective and the embracing of ‘powerful feminity’ and a more inclusive mindset.”

“More and more, as part of the packaging design landscape we’re seeing the incorporation of raw, natural textures, celebrating the beauty of raw material rather than synthetic production.  This really is’ design working in harmony with its environment rather than manipulating it.”

The head curator of this years 4th Istanbul Design Biennialle, Jan Boelen, called out the design world on its dependency and blind acceptance of recycling as a viable solution. We need to start to move away from single use plastics. Craft and craft material exploration is a direct deviation from the notion of mass produced single usage, moreover it builds ethical practices as well as strong associations and collaborations within communities.