Designing for the Future: Trends We Need to Consider Now

I bet this is an article every reader is going to love when it’s done—the graphics design-loving people especially. Yea! I say this to express how I found myself loving to write about this topic, and how it took me weeks of meditating on it, and more weeks of me talking to my graphics-designing friends about it, so I’ll have this grand-prize-worthy article. I tell you, reader, graphics designing is lovable! And I suspect you’re about to understand what makes it lovable and how. Just chillax as you read this and follow it as you would follow a Cinderella story if you were right now a 7-year old girl. Let me not jump into talking about what graphics designing is, how it can make one feel, and what it has doing with the future without (first) talking about how my initial interest in it was never much of a thing to talk about; and how I got interested in making this article on this topic.

You see, right now, the only designing software I use so well is “Paint”—a Microsoft software I found on my computer one day I was combing through the computer to find what the computer could do that I wasn’t using it for. I found “Paint”, I learnt the use; and since then I’ve been using it so much and so good that it now seem like no one is better on it than I am. But after coming across this topic, and then my search for fact about graphics designs and graphics designing, I found the need to go beyond “Paint”; I found the need to write about graphics designing and so many things that have a thing or two to do with it. And then, it just couldn’t stop at these; it got to me wanting to make an article worthy of winning the grand prize in the afore-mentioned competition (and I believe this is it). I must warn you, this is going to be another of my Nile-long articles; but don’t worry, it’s going to be worth the time you spent reading it when you are done with the reading. Let’s do this! The topic: “Designing for the Future: Trends We Need to Consider Now” is a very hard-to-understand one—at least for me; and I think it’s because every time I think about the topic, something new and different from the initial ones comes to mind. The latter part of the topic is not what’s difficult to understand, but the earlier (“Designing for the Future…”), that’s some hard-to-understand phrase. Hard to understand because the more the number of times I set my eyes (or my mind) on the phrase, the more the number of interpretations I have for it. Even, writing this, I had to resolve I’ll be writing on this topic based on my best understanding of the topic; which sounds so much like the serious need for designs that are more of and for the future than they are of and for the moment they are designed.

In my country—Nigeria, graphics designing is becoming a thing, and just like every other thing that trends here, we are beginning to rush into it like never before. Everything about graphics designing is getting more and more in the country: the need for it is becoming more (everything you set your eyes on says: “a graphics designer made me”), the people in it are becoming more (almost every one now has at least a little knowledge of graphics designing), people who want to go into it are becoming more (everyone wants to take up some graphics designing course—even the females too), programs and courses on graphics designing are becoming more (it’s graphics design courses everywhere now—even in the non-formal educational settings), and we are having more and more people becoming graphics designers by the day (even me is about to become one too—look forward to me making things look prettier than they look now). Wanting to make this article made me acquaint myself with graphics designing that I’m so interested in taking my designing skills beyond the “Paint” level now, to the level where I can do all things with any design software. Funds provided, I’m now so interested in starting a particular program that will make me a pro-designer in no time. But I must say, when I am a graphics designer, I’m going to be a motivated one. Why? Because I have—over the short period of time I spent investigating on this topic—learnt that most of the designers I spoke with really love to design, and it gives them joy when they do; but they aren’t motivated doing it. They are stressed the hell out! You’re there wondering how graphics designing could stress one out? Wonder less my friend; I said ‘stressed out’ to mean something entirely different from graphics designing itself stressing the designers out, but rather the people they are designing for. When you are a designer, you will always find yourself in the world of clients who are overly indecisive about what they want, and the ones who know what they want but don’t know how to describe it. You will always end up being the one having to help them create their imaginations (exactly how they want it in reality); and as you do that, you will always also have to be concerned with how to impress them (the clients) with their own imaginations you just helped them bring alive, and also, you will have to be concerned about how to impress the targeted population who would be consuming your work. These—though—are your core expectations as a designer, but when you are on the job, you’ll realize it’s much more tiring than how it sounds when it is talked about.

Another unsettling thing about designing is: having to work for people who would always say just “thank you” and move on when their job is done. The so called “customers” of graphics designs don’t like to pay; and that’s because—even though they cannot do it—they (still) see graphics designing as: “well, it’s nothing that diffy to do”. Apart from these customer-designer problems of too many of the customers not wanting to pay anything more than “thank you” to the designers, and the designers having to deal with the indecision of the customers, almost everything else about graphics designing is lovable… I tell you. What else can we say is not lovable about graphics designing? Could it be the fact that it helps you create your own ideas and imaginations, give you control over them, and help you bring them alive—even in ways you never thought possible? Or the fact that it helps you have your own brand, look, style, and personal messages you’re passing through? Could it be the fact that the passing of the 21st century information now relies greatly on graphics designs? What else is not lovable about graphics designing? I looked around it and I found none. All I think of—when I think about graphics designing—is everything amazing about it; everything ranging from how it feels when I design (even with “Paint”), and how it feels when I’m taking the good-job look at what I just designed. Talking about taking a good-job look at a design; I’ll like to begin my submission already on the trends we need to consider now—as we design for the future.

You know, since I learnt about the connection between graphics designing and the future, I’ve been telling every designer I get to chat about graphics designing with to start looking beyond designing for today, and start considering designing for the future? Yes I have; and that’s coming from my new understanding of the fact that graphics designing is going beyond what’s of today to take over the future. Not unexpectedly, the request for graphics designers is soon going to be so much that everyone would love to go get some diploma or degree in Graphics Designing (can you not tell of that even with the increase in how designers are wanted in almost every post on the social media now?), and the field is going to be more competitive than it ever has been—even with more designers coming into it; and the new cause of competition will be the connection between your designs and the future, not anymore about who is taking who’s designing job or whose design is finer. All I’m saying with that is: graphics designing is taking over the world; and when I say that, I do not mean only the designing aspect of it taking over the world; I rather mean that even as a job, as a profession, as a hobby or gift, or whatever you think the designing skill is, graphics designing is taking over everything. Let me tell what I see to make me think a graphics designing revolution is about to take place. You see the urge for the information that’s not boring going beyond the provisions of the radios and televisions? You see the social media taking over the world of information? You see the need to link impressions (graphics impressions) with education to make the latter more inviting, enticing, imparting, and not-sleep-causing? You see how the need for logo and brand in marketing and promotion (online and offline) have gotten beyond what a backward person can comprehend? You see how book publishers are leaving the old “just-make-the-cover-look-good” style of designing book covers to the new “this-cover-must-be-able-to-bring-a-wesome-judgments-on-the-book” style? Do you see the advancements even in the designs of currencies and the need to update a currency note per time? Imagine all these and have yourself thinking about a design revolution that is already taking place with not-much people knowing about it yet. With the awareness of all those, you will realize it’s important we start putting some things about the future (the trends) into consideration as we design. This is leading us to where we start talking about what the graphics designers should be considering already, as graphics designing is going to the future with high speed so they can already be in the future by the time it gets there, or at least get there just as soon as it does.

Like I mentioned (briefly) earlier on, every aspect of the life we live now depends so much on graphics designs: the social media, the education, the information, the religion, and what have you; they all tell of the need for graphic designs—projective designs, and how important the field and everyone in it will soon be in the future that is about to be here. But before designing and the designer become more important as I believe they will be (sooner), there is something that should be the new trend already, something that must be put into considerations every time we do a thing that has to do with graphics designing—the future! I say to designers, when you design, ask yourself: what would this I’m designing look like in the next few years? Finding the sincere answer to that question could help any designer be in the future when they design. I’m saying: the future has to be the reason why we design; passing a message to the future should be what our designs are doing the most; and also, designers must be capable of seeing the future as they make their designs. They should be capable of knowing what will be able to stand the test of time, what will have relevance even decades after the designs have been done. In this aspect, think about some works of art you grew up with, and how they are still very relevant now (personally, I like to call them works of science, because that’s what graphics designing is to me—science); I believe you’ll realize it’s because the designers considered the several decades yet to come as they went about making those designs; that’s why they remain relevant till now, and still will be till when everyone of us here right now is too old and barely able to tell time.

Designing for the future in terms of education; we have to consider the school education—especially, and how it’s increasingly becoming unavoidably reliant on the products of graphics designing to enhance long-lasting retention and accurate recalling. Instructional materials are going beyond drawings-on-cardboards that even schools are beginning to consider graffiti on school walls amidst trying to advance their instructional materials to what the pupils can very well relate to. I know this because I have taught for some academic sessions in different schools—private and public, junior and senior classes. I have over my time of been a teacher learnt that even the best of the so called “instructional materials” employed in classes are very obsolete now and incapable of keeping up even with the pupils they are used for. The moment any of these instructional materials are brought out, I imaging the students seeing the materials as something from the BC’s, or something meant to hold them down from seeing what’s ahead of time. I’m thinking, graphics designing should be used to develop education, as education itself promises to do same for graphics designing. We must link graphics designing with the school education, and the curricula—the African curricula especially—should circle more around designs more than the talk-talk style of teaching that gets the students napping even as classes go on.

Designing for the future in terms of the every-minute needs of the people; we have to consider the fact that homes (as well as everything in it—even the electronics), jobs (as well as the offices and the clients), and even ideas and careers, are becoming mobile now. People now carry their homes, offices and, careers and their ideas in their palms. For these reasons, the products of graphics designing have to express mobility, flexibility, and motion. Image designing—for instance—should be capable of putting the next generation gadgets into consideration. “This image looks great on iPhone6, but how would it look on iPhone12?”, “this is the message this image is passing now, but would it still be capable of passing—at least—the same message in the future to come, or some more advanced message?”, “this logo, would it still be representing what it represents now should culture and values change anytime in the future?” These are the questions an image designer should be able to find answers to, so as to have imagery that can stand even in the future. Designing for the future in terms of fashion, the prediction of the next things to trend should be a thing to consider too. The fashion—as ever—runs faster to the future than anything else, but the speed it’s running on now is much faster than it has ever been. Trends change faster now than ever; in just a matter of days we are already having another “new thing” over the “new thing” we had just some days ago. So, the designers have to consider graphics designs in the prediction of the future and the next relevant things. After all, fashion is about innovations, ideas, and most importantly, aesthetics; and how best can all these be brought together without graphics designs? I see no better way of telling what’s coming in fashion than with graphics designs. However, it must also be said that fashion is as much as it’s about the future also about the past, and also about bringing the past to the future. So, practically, fashion is like the past standing on the side it’s standing, and the future standing on the other side it’s standing, with graphics designing standing just in between the two to connect them. If I am understood here, you’ll get I’m just trying to say graphics designing is a very good means of relinquishing what’s almost forgotten and revealing what’s yet to happen; as it is also the means of creating impressions of the things of beauty.

Designing for the future in the areas of publishing and the print media, it should be considered that the print media must be put up to their best to remain relevant. The competition they have—is much more than how it used to be; the competition is severer now, and it’s ready to flush out the old if the old does not update itself. I say this to refer to the social media taking up the functions of the other media better than they can. The social media does not end it at information; it takes it to every other aspect of the human life. The social media do not only inform and educate the people, they represent them. They (the social media) show them (the people) the future—with the products of graphics designing. This makes it hard—and will keep making it so hard—for the other media to cope. To step things up to the best, the use of the next generation graphics designs becomes very necessary in publishing and the print media; if not, these areas as professions might go extinct too; just as selfies took over letting a photographer snap your pictures and direct how you pose in it. The future of mass media has to be brought to this present time, so as to amaze people again—like they used to.

Designing for the future in the Engineering, Medicine, Economics, and Architecture—especially; it has to be graphics designs taking over these fields and the new and peculiar challenges in them. I say peculiar challenges to mean in the cases of Nigeria—for instance—and some other developing and undeveloped countries whose education system is deficient in the provision of even the most needed things for the practical in these fields of study. These fields—because of this deficiency—must have to start considering bringing the new generation graphics designs in, so as to improvise to make up for the needed things they can’t have. In the field of Architecture for instance; the job of the architect is to bring ideas to life—something so related to the job of a graphics designer.  But bringing ideas to live with pencils and rulers and some overly-wide papers is fast becoming inefficient in architecting. In fact it’s beginning to fail now. Fail as in, a structure looking so good and perfect in the wide paper, but when structured for real; it looks entirely different from what was planned. And When I say ‘looks entirely different’, I do not mean the structure looks differently better than how it is on paper, but I say my ‘looks entirely different’ to mean the structure is rarely in agreement with the plan. Why? Because composing the structure on paper the intervening factors are barely seen, nor considered; intervening factors that are always changing the real structures to make them different from what is on paper. But there can be a solution to that—graphics designs! Taking architecting to the future can only be possible by handing the field totally over to graphics designs. Graphics design will address the issues of the intervening factors; it will bring the structure alive even before a brick is laid. In graphics designs, an architect can meet the structure already even before the structure is made. Same thing applicable to Engineering, Economics, and Medicine too; using graphics designs to illustrate the parts of every living and nonliving things can be made to look like just as they are, it can also illustrate their operations in their natural states. This will take the mentioned fields to their futures, and make them not miss—so much—all they don’t have.

I purposely kept the most controversial ones for this later paragraph—graphics designing and website development. I call them controversial because that’s exactly what the relationship between them is; and because it’s barely clear to many that one does not devalue the other, and instead of devaluing the other, they both work together to make passing messages and making impressions not boring. Therefore, designing for the future in web development and management, this relationship between websites and graphics designs have to be considered. One makes the other look good, but they can be made to make each other look like the future! Graphics designs can take the websites to the future in aesthetics and functions. Imagine a website that’s so real you can’t even differentiate between looking at a design on a screen and looking at the designed thing in real life; it’s hard to imagine right? That’s how Google, Facebook and Twitter would have been so hard to imagine some 20 years ago—the future is always so hard to imagine, but using graphics designs; a peep into many decades to come is possible; as well as creating what’s seen in the peep. Graphics designs can connect the websites to the future; and that should be considered already.