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Translating trends into design dreams: Applying the Trend-Driven Innovation approach for bachelor studies.

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For design professionals and creatives across all industries, the information, insights and inspiration gained from watching and using trends is something they are well versed in. But, from our experience, for students studying design at university or art college this is an area often (if not always) missed off the curriculum. So when we were approached by one of our own Spotters, Daniela Querqui, who was leading the trends course at BGBA - Brüder Grimm Berufsakademie Hanau, a design university of cooperative education just outside of Frankfurt, Germany, we were pleasantly surprised and excited to be involved.

Working with Daniela, we collaborated to embed our Trend-Driven Innovation methodology into the course and transformed the book into something suitable, manageable and applicable for design students. And, specifically, we aimed to teach them the skills and theory that would help them use trends to transform their design dreams into something consumers truly need and want.

To makes sure trends could instantly be seen as applicable to the type of briefs that students would get in the ‘real world’ we utilised a 2015 Airbnb brief from D&AD who, every year, partners with global brands to create a portfolio of live briefs that any student can respond to. With the mission to help Airbnb ‘creatively empower their existing community to grow the idea of ‘belonging’ out to a new audience’, we could clearly see the path from trend, to insight, to innovation that we could lead the students on.

First, Daniela spent several sessions breaking down trends into the building blocks: what are the basic needs, drivers of change, innovation inspiration and, crucially, emerging expectations that these trends uncover. Once this was mastered, we ran several practical workshops using pre-selected trends we felt were most relevant to the Airbnb brief and helping the students unpack them using the Consumer Trend Canvas.

Our Consumer Trend Canvas in action in Frankfurt! - 2

Using the Consumer Trend Canvas formed as the foundation of the workshops, allowed us to keep the process very structured but still let the student’s creativity be pushed towards producing a tangible result. In this way, students could easily make the link between the trends and the theoretical building blocks, and therefore ‘digest’ their meaning and implications to gain further inspiration and insights within their project. To see the flow of one of the canvas workshops download the presentation here:

Once the ‘analyze’ section was complete, and the trends utilised for insights and inspiration, it was onto the ‘apply’ section and creating innovation. In the final workshop we also challenged the students to give a high-pressure elevator pitches after a rapid 20-minute session of idea generation. Importantly though, we also gave students longer to work on the final innovation, and set it as an assessment project where they had to create a visual prototype of the innovation and explain how it fits with the brief, demonstrating the connection to the trend-driven insights.

Throughout the workshops, and the course as a whole, we saw the benefit of being able to focus the trends toward a real-life brief. It gave the students a clear picture of how and why the trends, and insights gained from them, could really help inform and inspire any future brief – whether during their studies or once they’ve graduated.

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Victoria Foster is the Head of TrendWatching’s Insight Network, as well as working with numerous universities from across the globe to provide materials for students, guest lectures and facilitate longer project. Think a similar course could work for you? Get in touch at victoria@trendwatching.com.  

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