Scotland’s Centre for
Design and Architecture

Facebook Twitter Instagram
Trip Advisor

Twitter Feed /

Blog / Glasgow Design Industry Talks Trends for 2017

Glasgow Design Industry Talks Trends for 2017 07 Feb 2017

The Glasgow design industry talk to The Lighthouse about their areas of work and what they think will be prominent in 2017

We spoke to four people within different areas of design, including academia, product and service-led.

User experience is at the heart of every element of design, whether it’s using online to make a buying decision, or to engage people with social issues and change behaviour.

The Glasgow design industry is still thriving and we wanted to speak to people from different areas of design to hear their thoughts on trends in 2017.

Not surprisingly, Brexit was mentioned, collaboration is seen as an opportunity and new technology has been identified as a challenge and an opportunity, particulalry in getting designers and business generally to see the art of the possible.

Reality and authenticity are two of the biggest considerations for design. Business, brands and organisations have to build a two-way conversation with their markets, and they have to build trust. It’s one of the biggest crossovers with public relations. With the rise in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) users have the real chance to get an experience. Design will therefore need to hone in on specific audiences, rather than generalise, so different audiences get what they need from it.

Big data is mentioned in a response below. The term Big data has been bandied about for a few years now, with few knowing how to benefit from it, either commercially or socially. Data is like gold dust. We need to use data to gain understanding. Once we understand, we can design and create accordingly, with an informed approach.  If we understand behaviours from a real-time perspective, can take advantage of the opportunity it creates.

Design has to adapt to emerging technology and the Glasgow design industry are well placed to talk about that…

What do you predict the biggest trend in the design in 2017?

Glasgow Design

William Mitchell, 4C Design

In product design, we are seeing two definite trends.

The first is the continued rise of the 'smart product' which is basically a double development of a new product with App connectivity. The world of Apps has been the playground for millions of developers, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate an offer from the overwhelming competition. Designing new products that are specifically designed to complement an App gives control, loyalty and big data. Imagine a chair that warns you about sitting too long via text and you get the picture.

The second is 'outsourced innovation' where large companies engage with design and engineering teams with workshop facilities to crack tough problems that either the companies are 'too close' to (and need fresh eyes) or simply don't have the resource. This has become increasingly popular because large companies can lack the agility required to be truly innovative.

Damien Smith, Partner, ISO

The new "i" word - immersion. It may be digital, virtual, multisensory, physical or environmental but 2017 will be the i-year!

Glasgow Design

Sarah Drummond, We are Snook

In-house development of design capabilities, using design to work closely with users of public services to re-design them will be the biggest trend in 2017.  We're seeing this across all sectors from financial institutions to manufacturing, working with designers and developers to really think how products and services are used.

Originally out-sourced to big agencies, now, organisations like ours at Snook are focusing on building design capabilities in-house with organisations so they can confidently design their own services in the future. 

This has been a growing space for the past decade; my own time at the start of my career was spent inside a Scottish public body working as an internal service design team.

Don McIntyre, Design Director, Institute of Design Innovation, The Glasgow School of Art

I think that ‘design innovation’ as a way of thinking may enable design to be positioned as a behaviour rather than a department; as an approach to addressing strategic problems rather than a discipline associated with the visual aesthetic. 

2. What do you think the biggest challenge for design will be in 2017?

William Mitchell

Again from the point of view of product design and engineering, we are seeing some shortages in local manufacturing and prototyping capability, because of the overall decline in demand over the last few decades. This capacity shortage is due to the increased material, labour and shipping costs which have made foreign manufacturing and prototyping increasingly expensive and due to the long  lead times can sometimes delay the early stages of a design project.

Damien Smith

Design will need to articulate principles of community, open engagement and inclusion against a political backdrop of division, isolation and protectitionism. Humour will be a useful tool.

Sarah Drummond

Understanding the material that is the internet, data and code. I don't think it's the biggest challenge but it is ever-present. As designers, working in the 21st century it is essential we understand the material we work with. More and more products and services need to consider the end-to-end user journey of how they are used, and at the root of much of this is some form of technology. This doesn't mean learn how to code, it means, understand the properties of what it can do. 

Glasgow Design

Don McIntyre

With the previous question in mind, the challenge will be in two areas; for businesses and organisations to be open and receptive to the transformative capability of design and for designers to realise their worth and relevance in areas outside of those traditionally considered as career destination points. 

3. What do you think the biggest opportunity for design will be in 2017?

Glasgow Design

William Mitchell

I think there will be increased demand for design in the boardroom. We have CEO's, CFO's now CDO's (Chief Design Officer). This is what all the most innovative companies are doing and it's easy to see why. Design is ALL about justifying decisions, so that type of thinking needs to feature at the highest rungs of the ladder. The knock-on effect for the design industry as a whole can only be good.

Damien Smith

Working internationally - post-Brexit British design is now 25% cheaper to overseas buyers!

Sarah Drummond

Design is needed everywhere, the opportunities are endless. For now, and pertinent today, democracy and equality. 

The way government's work and the interface between citizen and state is an absolute opportunity for re-thinking the constitution of how this works for people, at the coal face. The way we pay our taxes, to how we understand what it’s spent on, to how we report pot-holes to how we stand up for basic human rights.  I see these, from my perspective as design challenges 

Our opportunity is in challenging and re-designing the system around us where we can find breakages, gaps and spaces in which to do so.  

If I was leaving art school today, I'd jump straight into working for an NGO, pubic body, the NHS or Government.  There is exciting stuff happening over there and it's got design written all over it. 

Don McIntyre

In Scotland, I think design could be a particularly effective mechanism for change in local government and healthcare. The Government’s Digital Health and Social Care initiative has GSA’s design driven ‘Experience Labs’ at the heart of its innovation engine, which has proved effective in bringing together and providing a fertile creative space for ‘extreme collaborators’ to rapidly innovative and prototype solutions. 

In summary, there is much to learn and there are many opportunities. Our four interviewees have excited us with their points on technology and innovation, but one of the biggest points which William made, is that there will be increasingly more demand for design to be in the boardroom.

The contributions from these designers highlight the fantastic challenges and opportunities, as well as challenges in their sector.  The new Economic Strategy which Glasgow recently launched has identified the Creative Industries as a key sector, perhaps creating the focus required to build a platform from which to help design thrive.

The capacity shortage in making/manufacture creates opportunities for business generally, however the biggest prizes for Glasgow design is for design thinking to be embedded within business and the public sector.

Being in the boardroom will let design inform and develop businesses and organisations and maximise the impact of design commercially, socially and environmentally.

Thank you to William, Damien, Sarah and Don for the taking the time to participate.

Part of the Glasgow design industry and want to keep up-to-date with what The Lighthouse does? Sign up here to get emails straight to your inbox.

Blog post edited by Laura Sutherland, Aura PR.

Design by Tangent Graphic