Monday 16 May 2011

The Future of Visual Merchandising 2020

(Please note that the Powerpoint Presentation has been moved to the top of the page)

Do you ever wonder what will happen in the future? Invariably, if we are honest the answer is maybe a vague….ish….yes? Not in any great detail perhaps, but we have all had at least at some point, albeit momentary, flash-forwarded (does this expression exist yet?) about what we think our futures will be like, either how we wish it to be or how we think it will be?

The film Metropolis produced in 1927 and directed by Fritz Lang, was "set in a futuristic urban dystopia [and] explored the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism". "The film [was] set in the massive, sprawling futuristic mega-city Metropolis, where society [was] divided into two classes: one of planners and management........ and one of workers". What is so remarkable about this film is how incredibly accurately the visual of the film was predictive of 21st century city living. OK well, not in the same visual Raygun Gothic style, but certainly in its portrayal of us (as the workers) as the drones were then also portrayed. Incidentally isn’t it also ironic that futuristic technology which is now our contemporary technology was always promised to make our lives easier giving us as much leisure time as we could endure, although in fact, while not quite enslaving us, it has made us work twice as fast for twice as long than we did before? The convenience factor that this technology provides has actually seeped into our daily routines that it is impossible to not to be part of some kind of digital presence.

Zooming ahead in time 70 or so years later to 2002, the neo noir science fiction film Minority Report was set in the year 2054. The films central theme is "the question of free will vs. determinism.....examining whether free will can exist if the future is set and known in advance". Both Metropolis and the Minority Report it seems were particularly prescient (i.e. perceiving events before they occurred) and therefore one has to wonder that by attempting to predict, as in the case here, our own Visual Merchandising industries’ future, are we are in fact predetermining how it will actually be? Similar to the Minority Report's Precog's ("the mutated humans with precognition abilities") can we actually predict what will happen in 2020? Realistically, of course our predictions are based on what we already know now through our experiences, dialogues and interactions. However, will these 2020 predictions drive the way our industry acts through saying what we think will happen as an industry? By contributing to this forecast will it in fact, as with the storyline from the Minority Report become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Who knows? The year 2020 is not that far away and however unintentionally sinister as this may read, it is important to consider for a moment how we ourselves will shape where we think our industry will be.

For this forecast we talked to the movers and shakers, the creatives, the writers, the academics, the suppliers, the designers (many of whom are all of these) to ask them to share their thoughts with us in a one-liner/overview and tell us what they think our industry will look like in the future. As all of the contributors clearly have their fingers firmly on the VM industry pulse, we weren’t surprised not to receive googie or populuxe aesthetic and science fiction-style replies akin to Mars Attacks, Gattaca or Le Voyage Fantastique. What we received were inspired and strategic creative thinking from our industry’s best and their future and therefore futuristic visions of how we will shop and be visually presenting in 2020.

(*Please note that a larger version of this presentation is available on slide share)

Our most grateful thanks to the following contributors who so generously gave us their time and agreed to send us their thoughts. Without the support of these industry specialists, this project would not have been possible:

Faye Mcleod, Erin Thompson, Janet Wardley, Laura O’connor, Glen Foley, Colin Morissey, Logan Shannon, Elsa Sanchez, Jamie Shouli, Paul Symes, Nathan Hicks, Professor Ronald Knoth, Assistant Professor Reginald Rogers, Sarah Bailey, Lisa Mann, Lorna Hall, Gemma Emslie, Alison Embrey Medina, Lyndsey Hubbard, Heather Strang, Lars Laemmerzahl, Janey Rodger, Lynda Murray, Moe Krimat, Jeremy Rucker, Kathryn Scanlon, Millington Associates, Andi Grant, Denise Foley, Gary Porter,Helen Burke, Janey Rodger, Sonya Storm, Pauline Dwelley, Tanya Reynolds, Michael Steward, Jonathan Berlin, Amanda Carr, Professor Leonard Wiltshire, Becky Tyre, Deborah Millington, Maya Stephani.

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