Mike Chino

Green Design Predictions for 2012

by , 01/03/12
filed under: DIY

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Mike Chino – Managing Editor, Inhabitat

There are a lot of things that I’m looking forward to in the coming year – but above all else, I think that 2012 will be the year of the electric car. The road to mainstream EVs was paved this past year by the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, and now that the technology and market have been proven, automakers are gearing up to launch EV’s around the world in the coming months – from the Ford Focus Electric to the Honda Fit EV, the Smart ForTwo Electric, and the Tesla S. We’ll be taking a first-hand look at several of these electric cars at the Detroit Auto Show next week, so stay tuned!

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Yuka Yoneda – Senior Editor, Inhabitat

My green design prediction for MMXII is that it’s going to be all about DIY. Okay, so the DIY phenomenon isn’t exactly new (just ask Bob Vila), but with money tight and the internet making it easier than ever to find how-tos on anything and everything, I think more people than ever will venture out of their comfort zones and pick up their hammers, paintbrushes, glue guns and sewing machines. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be spending money. An argument my friends often confront me with when I talk up the make-it-yourself movement is “Isn’t that anti-capitalist?” (a sentiment that might originate from the the DIY movement’s ties to punk culture). My answer, of course, is no, but we will see a shift in what people spend money on. Just as many of us are moving away from purchasing pre-made and processed foods and towards picking up more raw ingredients, I think we’ll see more registers ringing at salvage yards, thrift shops, and home improvement and craft stores. Aside from just being a useful and fun way to get the hell away from your computer for a moment, I hope crafting things with our own two hands gives us a newfound appreciation of the fact that while things may seem like they just magically appear on store shelves, a lot of materials and energy go into them before they get there.

They say that if you want something done right, you have to Do It Yourself. So let’s roll up our sleeves this year and do 2012 right!

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Jill Fehrenbacher – Founder & Editor-in-chief, Inhabitat.com

I am cautiously optimistic about 2012. I feel like we’ve started to round the bend in terms of the economic recession, and I see a lot of reason for hope and excitement about new innovations and opportunities in 2012. One thing I am hugely excited about is the emergence of the mass-market electric vehicle. I also think that the recession-based-frugality that we have seen in the past few years will continue to inspire growing creativity in terms of DIY & craft culture. People are rediscovering the joy of making things and fixing what they have. I think this ethos will gather momentum for many more years, and will (hopefully) leave an indelible imprint on the generations that are soldiering through this recession right now. We’ll all emerge from the recession with more skills, more ingenuity, and the pride and unique satisfaction that comes from knowing how to knit a scarf, mend your own clothes, or turn anything into a terrarium (terrarium Christmas ornament how to here >)

Since I believe in frugality and reuse, (and also because I think 2012 is going to see a continuation of many of the trends we saw in 2011), I’m going to recycle and resurrect some of my predictions from 2011. Let’s take a look down memory lane, shall we…

1. THE SLOW DEATH OF FAST CONSUMPTION
For too many years, the relentless marketing push around “newness”, along with race-to-the-bottom consumer prices (and corresponding labor/manufacturing costs) has elevated fast consumption to an unsustainable level. Thanks in part to the economic downturn, consumers are finally beginning to feel nauseous from stuffing their faces and houses with too many unneeded products — and are becoming pickier about the things they bring into their lives. While economists and politics bemoan the current state of the economy, it has so far been great for weeding out stupid products and companies that have no good reason to exist. I predict that in 2012 we will see increasing skepticism, comparison shopping and research on the part of consumers in deciding what they want to purchase, which will hopefully lead to better and more thoughtful products. We’ll continue to see consumers foregoing thoughtless impulse buys in order to invest more in quality products that will stand the test of time.

2. RESTORE & REPAIR – & with it, the rise of service design industry
When consumers value the things they have more, they’ll invest more time and money in maintaining their things. Companies that help maintain, repair and restore products, such as Denim Therapy (which helps people repair their fraying blue jeans), cobblers and bike repair shops, will continue to see growth.

3. THE RISE OF THE IDEA
In 2012 we will see a growing demand for ideas over physical objects. This means there will be a growing demand for experience/interaction design skills rather than traditional product design skills. More attention will be paid to how something works and how it makes a user feel rather than how it looks.

4. DIY NATION
Finally, I predict 2012 to be a year where more and more average consumers and hobbyists get intp the world of design by learning how to create, craft and engineer their own products. The rise of Etsy and Instructables have shown that interest in DIY and craft is growing by leaps and bounds. Not only have creative tools such as software, publishing platforms and DIY instructions become increasingly available and easy to find online, but there is an innate satisfaction that individuals derive from making things, and in our post-industrial society (where we’re increasingly distanced from the process of making pretty much everything) many people are craving a closer connection with the process of creation. This means that there will be more and more stuff available out there and more “noise” as increasing numbers of individuals get into every possible niche, but also there will be more interesting things for consumers to choose from as both supply and demand grow. I think it also means we’ll all start to get more creative and become more fulfilled in our personal lives as more and more of us turn to crafts and DIY projects.


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