This Year’s Design Trends Draw on Cognitive Sustainability

March 26, 2019

This year’s design trends react to the effects of being an active internet user in 2019. In this article, Albert Shum, corporate VP of Design at Microsoft states, “The digital experiences that were once fun, delightful, and helpful now feel like a burden; an always-on state that we hope to escape.”

In attempts to save people from their current relationships with their workplace, design experts have been brainstorming ways to avoid the “cold, corporate thinking that has defined the business world over the past several years.” To put it simply: it doesn’t work. Designers are coming up with new and innovative approaches to instill a simplicity that embraces emotional and mental well-being.

Shum reflects on the need to support cognitive sustainability as people are experiencing information overload and the media only adds to the stress. He says, “The biggest design trend will be a return to mindfulness and focus.”

Not only are people overwhelmed, but rates of loneliness are significantly increasing, even though as Ann Kim, portfolio director of Ideo Cambridge puts it, “we live in the most technologically connected times.” People are working towards building real connection again, which could mean less apps being produced and more productive impact from already existing apps.

This is not to say that everything we’re consuming and interacting with online is bad for us, it’s just to evaluate how it could be better. And that’s where designers come in, considering many of them are on the same page. They are recognizing the psychological and physical effects the current state of design has on us and are using these assessments to make something healthier for our psyches so that we aren’t constantly feeling stuck in a windowless room that has too many boxes of storage and very little space to breathe.

These conversations are what drive innovation. Ann Kim stated, “More and more designers will realize their superpowers. You don’t have to have a doctor or nurse to help people. Designers are healers, too.” Design is everything that surrounds us. From our online universe to our physical space, it is extraordinary how much an environment can change our lives.

“The cold, corporate thinking that has defined the business world over the past several years doesn’t jive with how people want to live. In 2019, people will be more than mere data points; it’s a designer’s job to make sure of it.”

Here are some key design predictions for 2019:
 

  1. We need to be more intentional and design experiences that support cognitive sustainability for individuals, groups, and society. It’s time now for designers to take on this ethical responsibility. The biggest design trend will be a return to mindfulness and focus.” —Albert Shum, corporate VP of design, Microsoft

  2. “Apple has led the way in technology in simplifying products while increasing their performance, and similarly in fashion, companies will focus on simplicity and removing excess details, while increasing the poetry.” Nina Faulhaber and Meg He, cofounders, ADAY

  3. “The often-simplistic love affair of the tech world with clean, simple, and emotionally subdued design is coming to a slow, yet clear end. Such formulaic serene Sameness is no longer a valid risk-averse strategy as more and more companies understand that brand building requires a distinguished aesthetic with an emotional point of view.” Gadi Amit, founder, NewDealDesign

  4. “We are living in era of uncertainty, our minds and bodies frayed by stress. You see it in the headlines everyday: Kids paralyzed by anxiety. Suicides by gun. Addiction to opioids. We live in the most technologically connected times, yet our rates of loneliness are increasing. If you dig deep, the common root is an absence of emotional and mental well-being.
  5. “I’m not talking about the well-being that’s branded through luxury experiences, like wellness retreats. I’m talking about what Maslow missed at the very bottom of his hierarchy: that sense of inner well-being that is absolutely necessary for our survival as humans.”

  6. “More and more designers will realize their superpowers. You don’t have to have a doctor or nurse to help people. Designers are healers, too.” —Ann Kim, portfolio director, Ideo Cambridge
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