Do we really need to see more pineapples, palm leaves and coloured foam? Have social media helped fire up creativity, or have they contributed to an incoming drought of genuinely new ideas? These and more are the questions that Sara Sturges and Daniella Treija address in their graduation project, Not Another magazine.
The repetition of themes in art and design is something I’ve found myself thinking about a lot lately, since I was assigned the task by my uni lecturers to identify, collate and categorise any recurring trends I was able to spot, using Pinterest as my chosen platform. In my case, these trends refer specifically to fashion image: anything related to art direction, locations, props, styling, casting and even post production can be affected by dominant trends, and my Pinterest account has been busier than ever because as it turns out, this activity can quickly become quite addictive.
However, trends have a sneaky tendency to seep through to a range of other sectors, and don’t limit themselves to just what we wear on a daily basis, like some might assume. If we look back to micro and macrotrends over the past century, it’s easy to see how every decade had a dominant character, a certain flow, a raison d’être of sorts, which encompassed not only clothes and accessories, but a much broader creative culture: architecture, interiors, product design, graphics and illustrations, advertisements, foods and, sometimes, the matrix of a whole new generation’s set of ideals.
“A trend can be emotional, intellectual and even spiritual. At its most basic, a trend can be defined as the direction in which something (and that something can be anything) tends to move and which has consequential impact on the culture, society or business sector through which it moves.”
—Martin Raymond, “The Trend forecaster’s handbook” (2010)
Sturges and Treija point out how the advent of image-sharing platforms such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are responsible for shaping a ‘creative hive-mind mentality’ which has led to replication rather than innovation. This phenomenon of convergence of tastes and aesthethics has gotten creatives and designers stuck in a loop of regurgitation of trends, where the same motif or inspiration is reimagined, repackaged, recreated in a myriad of ways but so fast that it becomes difficult to stand out and not to drown in an ocean of design look-alike’s. “It’s absurd how repetitive design trends have become. […] Where did all the pineapples come from all of a sudden? Every photographer seems to use one for an exotic hint in pictures, but product design has also been infested with this tropical fruit. And what about all the products made from coloured foam or marble?”
These young designers’ project shines the spotlight to this phenomenon by dedicating each monthly edition to one ubiquitous design cliché, as voted by internet users on their social media. I find it a brilliant way to poke fun at these trends while at the same time remind us of the importance of finding truly original solutions and thinking outside the box (or, in this case, the black and white grid?) instead of keeping safely within the designer’s comfort zone of tried-and-tested trends.