WGSN Salon Series: Slow Futures



This week at WGSN, our NY editors held our second community event. We haven’t quite come up with a name for these sessions yet, but think of them a little bit like Futures Trends Unplugged, where we get a panel of tastemaskers and our top editors together to discuss key themes, and topics happening right now. Our kick-off session last month was all about Gen Z, their politics and their buying habits, and how both those things inform each other.

This week we changed it up again and the topic was Slow Futures, using Memory as a Design Tool. The topic, inspired by our key trend for 2018, was all about how we incorporate nostalgia into design, but evolve the design message.

Our esteemed panel consisted of: Suzanne Shapiro (Archive Manager at PVH Corp. and author of Nails: The Story of the Modern Manicure) , Rabhy Ortega (artist), Jonathan KYLE farmer (Chair MFA FASHiON DESIGN at FIT), Gordon Thompson (Creative Consultant) and WGSN’s own Francis Wong (Executive Vice President, Creative Direction and Production).



We drank wine, talked about the unending love for the 90s, why Stranger Things is a throwback to every 80s movie we loved, and how designers can be inspired by a brand’s archive, but must innovate to move the message forward.


Below are some key takeaways:

Suzanne, on the unending magic of nostalgia:

“I think nostalgia appeals to us because it digs up our personal memories and the beauty in that. I know that when I was researching my book about the modern manicure,  I realised through picture research that my hands look like my mothers, it became very sentimental.”


Rabhy, on the importance of context with memory based design
“As an artist I’m inspired by so many different people and avenues, I try to create a sense of understanding around why people do things. I’m inspired by what different generations are doing, but minus the labels- they are not Gen Z or Millennials to me, it’s less about age and more about the experiences. So, for me that might just mean attending a night at a warehouse in Brooklyn and seeing what’s happening there, and why you have people in their early twenties more concerned with inward looking behaviour (selfies, documenting the night for Snapchat) rather than outward looking behaviour, which is just enjoying the night with friends and making memories that don’t live online.


Jonathan, on nostalgia in design:

“I think it’s important, and I teach my students this too, that we should aim to bring things back in a new way, not just copying the designers that went before us, there needs to be innovation, progression and moving the design forward, so that the new design stands the test of time and makes people feel something different. Think of yourself as a future historian when it comes to design, evolving and modernizing ideas. ”


Gordon, on design brands doing nostalgia well.

“I would have to say the cooking brand Blue Apron, which delivers fresh ingredients and original recipes to you. It works because of the growing consumer need to reduce waste, but also from a nostalgia point of view it captures the spirit of why cooking was fun as a child, but it has brought that back in a new, innovative, sharable way. I think for future brands, we need to look at design in terms of experience, more and more our phones have become a crutch or a means of making a transaction rather than a way to experience brands, so I think designers need to think about creating memories for the next generation too, through innovative experiences, and not just looking back into the archive.


Great points, from some great minds I think you will agree.






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