A trend forecaster’s guide to staying inspired in 2021


Written by Kate Usher

11 March 2021

As spring approaches and we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel with global lockdown restrictions easing, many of us are eagerly awaiting the return of travel and adventure.  With trade shows and events calendars still disrupted and most cultural happenings still on pause, where do you turn for inspiration, insights and signs of emerging trends? As trend forecasters, it’s our job to know exactly where to look for inspiration and identify weak signals of change, so whether you work in design, insights or marketing, we’ve developed some ideas to help steer your creativity, gather trend intelligence and stay inspired.

In this post, Senior Trend Consultant Kate Usher shares how to overcome creative block, scout new talent and explore digital experiences in her trend forecaster’s guide to staying inspired this year.

1. Events and talks

Moving into the middle and latter half of the year, here’s a summary of the online talks and key events I’ll be covering with the team at Trend Bible.

Maison & Objet (9-13 September)

The Paris based trade show, which focuses on the decoration and lifestyle industries cancelled the first edition of 2021. The second edition is scheduled for 9-13 September 2021, in conjunction with Paris Design Week. In the meantime, event organisers have scheduled a series of inspiring talks online, bringing you brand highlights, product launches and talks throughout 2021.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair (14 – 17 June 2021) and other literary festivals

The children’s publishing event has been scheduled to take place between the 14-17th June 2021. The demand for books, especially that of children’s literature, has been strong during the pandemic, so many are keen to discuss the trends we are likely to see in the coming years. Digital events are continuing to pop up to fill the gaps left by delayed events, including an announcement by Curtis Brown to hold their own digital spring fair beginning in March. Other literary events including Hay Festival and London Book Fair also expect to hold events later in the year. Be sure to check out the Hay Festival player for access to inspiring video and audio interviews from a global mix of writers and thinkers.

Milan Design Week (5-10 September 2021) 

The sixtieth edition of the international design furniture show Salone del Mobile 2021 which is usually held in April, will this year happen in September. To celebrate the sixtieth edition the event is to be run alongside all biennial shows (Euroluce, EuroCucina) and the Salone Internazionale del Bagno trade show for the first time.

London Design Festival (18-26 September 2021) 

LDF has been scheduled to take place in September 2021. However, London Design Fair which takes place during the Festival, have taken the decision to cancel their event until 2022. We highly recommend following the LDF Instagram account which delivers doses of design inspiration from designers and artists across the globe.

2. Overcoming Creative Block

Ina Jang – WePresent

I recently discovered the new creative editorial platform by WeTransfer, called WePresent and it is the perfect place to go when I’m feeling in need of creative stimulation. They feature such a broad and diverse range of work and interviews with artists, writers, designers, photographers and more from right across the globe; it almost helps to stifle my yearning for travel. Almost!

3. Scouting Fresh Talent

Boey Wang – ARTSTHREAD

I feel deeply sad for the design graduates of 2020, who didn’t get the chance to present their work to the outside world in the usual way; at end of year degree shows or platforms such as New Designers. Student work tends to have such brave and unharnessed creativity which is yet to be weakened by the constraints of commercial design parameters. These shows are where we see some of the best ideas, so I’ve really missed their presence this past year. Instead, I am looking to platforms like ARTSTHREAD (the world’s leading platform for new creatives) to keep me up to date with emerging design talent. As a response to the end of year show cancellations, ARTSTHREAD and i-D launched the first ever online Global Design Graduate Show initiative for all of the students graduating in 2020, which featured the work of over 4,400 designers from around the world.  Happily, they are repeating this online event for 2021. I follow their Instagram feed and also search hashtags like #ndselects #designacademyeindhoven #rcagraduate to make sure I stay up to date on new ideas.

4. Exploring New Digital Experiences

Dream – Royal Shakespeare Company

Part of the job of a trend forecaster is to immerse yourself in culture and the arts. Since there has been a distinct lack of music gigs, blockbuster movies or theatre performances to enjoy over the past year, I was delighted to hear about a new immersive digital theatre experience by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Theatre, music and groundbreaking technology combine in Dream, an exhilarating glimpse into the future of live performance. Created by the Royal Shakespeare Company in collaboration with Marshmallow Laser Feast, Philharmonic Orchestra and MIF, it’s the culmination of a major project exploring how the audiences of tomorrow will experience live performance – and tickets are now available for its world premiere in March.

Sign up to our free Trend Updates for more advice from our trend forecasters and coverage on the events and trade shows that are so important for design and trend intelligence throughout the year. 


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