Module 1

Week 7 – Research

This week I’m really hoping this whole process helps me find my way with this project – I’ve got an audience and an issue that needs solving but currently I’m going round and round a few ideas that aren’t sparking anything for me…

When I think of trends, it’s always something technological that I think of – maybe social media trends, new apps or new ways of designing or branding something. I think trends tend to get a bad rep because you’re following the path of something that’s already out there and is taking off without your input. But if you consider trends effectively and just follow the projection of them then you can end up with something quite niche and innovative.

I got the feeling from all interviews that this is also the case in the industry – as Torsten put it, is it worth doing? If you can tap into and anticipate something it can be a really good thing but you can also massively overflow yourself with ideas and thoughts and you lose the focus of the brief. Is it worth following trends? do you still have a connection with the idea that made you follow that path in the first place?

Michelle and Wouter both touched on trends being tech based – generative design and responsive typography – both great fields but not something I’d call new. But if you have dedicated teams like Accept&Proceed who are researching for weeks on end into a trend then you’re bound to come up with something new and innovative. Michelle looked at it as something you can evolve, something that’s quite new and is getting more popular but you can evolve and develop it.

Stjin at Skiekerman on the other hand doesn’t even consider trends, wouldn’t use it to start a concept and wouldn’t look into it when deciding on a brief. It doesn’t make the work you do cutting edge and can distract from the way you, personally, look at things. It’s cool and new but does it solve a problem?

Interestingly, despite also being at Spiekerman, Luke considers trends very important because of the fact they’re working with such long term projects they need to know if this project they’re working with is going to no longer be cutting edge at the end of it. Without checking trends they won’t keep up to date with innovation.

Trend forecasting isn’t something I’ve really looked into before because my projects were never on the right timescale to consider how trends shift. Looking at the Trend Forecasters Handbook I realised how much there is to consider, it’s not just about how Scandi design is “in” or how gaming is the new therapy but how a trend is literally ANYTHING and it tends to move, it has to have an impact within it’s sector.

“Trend Forecasting is about the new and the next. Scenario planning is how this might impact on the way we live tomorrow…”

— Raymond, M.


Ok – So I am looking at an audience of 18-24 year olds and focusing on the fact that during the recent lockdowns, they have been the largest group showing more signs of depression or loneliness than any other ages. Could this be because of University and not attending lectures? Could it be that they’ve just got their first job and are worried about being made redundant? Could it be that suddenly at this age, they might have had to move back in with mum and dad despite spending 3 years at Uni? There are a huge number of factors that are affecting Young Adults mental health – BUT during the recent months, an increasing amount of Young Adults are NOT seeking help despite feeling a lot worse over the past year. They do not believe their issues are enough to talk about or to take up the doctors time with mental health issues during a pandemic.

One other trend I’ve noticed through my research is that use of Social Media has greatly increased during this time within this age group, highlighting their need to connect and communicate. But a high number of Young Adults believe social media contributes to their worsening mental health – PARADOX RIGHT???

I spent the last week working at York Design Week and was volunteering alongside a number of recent Design graduates based in York and Leeds – I used this time to ask all the questions I had about people in this age group and how they’ve been taking the time to improve their mental health and to question what could be contributing to worsening mental health recently.

Of course, a lot of the responses stemmed from the fact that lockdown was stopping them finding jobs, meeting people and even having a graduation ceremony. Those that hadn’t been to Uni had lost their jobs or were worried about being furloughed again. About 3 of the people I spoke to mentioned they’d been gardening at their student houses or had bought some new plants during lockdown because garden centres were still open.

So I did more of what I do best – I researched! And I found SO much about houseplants and mental health – however, I also found A LOT of “trends” out there of houseplant subscriptions, these are flooding the market at the moment and there’s too many!

The more I think about this age group and the issues that are being highlighted, the more I realised I want to focus on getting these young adults off social media and to focus on the real world, improving their own health. There’s a huge trend at the moment of 18-24 year olds being so hyperaware of their health wellbeing, so apps etc are on the rise.

I’m really trying to tie these ideas together in a way that can encourage 18-24 year olds to communicate with others, get off social media, look after themselves and get a bit greenfingered. Could we have an app that has a daily flow chart, how are they doing, what are they feeling etc, the app could also alert them to excess social media time and that they need to tend to their houseplant? Perhaps they sign up to a subscription service that gives them seeds and the necessary items to start growing indoor flowers from seed? A new seed each month and they have to be tended to correctly?

Lockdown for most people has been a difficult time, and there is no end in sight – however for young adults between 18-24, 74% reported worsening mental health as the year progressed. Craving a community and a sense of solidarity, Young Adults turned to Social Media (TikTok, Insta etc) to communicate and talk to others. Despite this, the majority of young adults reported Social Media as one of the factors that greatly worsened their mental health. This paradox needs addressing imminently, especially with more signs of lockdowns.

Considering the recent trends of houseplants and subscription boxes, this new box will provide young adults with monthly seeds to grow indoor flowers, herbs or plants based on the seasons, encouraging young adults to cultivate and care for something away from technology and, in turn, care for themselves.


The associated app will also connect with other likeminded individuals, to share problems with their plants or themselves, to connect on a different level to social media, and to provide help to others if they need it. The app will also have daily reminders to care for the seedlings or plants, how to use them in recipes or display them when fully grown, and how to take care of yourself.

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