INSPIRATION: tribal trends, “nomadism,” and vagabonding

November 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

As a designer, I’m naturally interested in following the trends that come and go in fashion, home decor and other arenas of product design and popular culture. This subject comes up often on designers’ blogs and pinterest boards – what are the colors for next spring? What holiday motif will all the big retailers be shopping for? As I immerse myself more and more into the world of fashion, trends, and Pantone colors of the year I get more and more interested in the trends behind the trends – the actual reasons why so many of us seem to gravitate toward the same colors, patterns, and images at a certain time. It might be possible that sometimes a trend is simply a popular thing and people like it because it’s popular, but I do believe that sometimes trends in design arise from forces in society, politics, the economy and world events.

One trend that’s close to my heart right now both visually and socially is the embrace of global patterns and designs. This includes so-called ‘tribal’ patterns, ikat, paisley, Japanese washi tape, and Russian needlepoint, and Mexican day of the dead and papel picado. I think it’s so interesting how all of these trends all seem to be popular all at once, and seem to be taking over all levels of retail and product categories:

sources: eclectic a, urban outfitters, and red uk (clockwise)

sources: eclectic a, urban outfitters, and red uk (clockwise)

Trend Tablet refers to this trend to draw inspiration from all places and movements in history as “Nomadism.” I’m no trend forcaster, but I consider myself a bit of a nomad and I wanted to write a bit about my insights into this trend. As it turns out, I’m also being inspired by all places and moments in history at once! (yikes. hard to know what to make first!)

I really believe that an increased interest in global/tribal designs stems from increasing global travel, both by Americans to other places and by global citizens to America. Here in America, it gets easier and easier to find global cuisines, music, dance, sports, and festivals all the time. This gives consumers a chance to have their interest be piqued by new, exciting colors and patters. Conversely, it is easier to travel abroad than it’s ever been, and there’s more and more reasons to travel abroad. As I myself experienced, many people struggling in a weak economy find they can get more lucrative jobs abroad.

In addition, I think this trend reflects the fact that many young people (Millennials, I suppose) are placing a higher value on experiences over physical possessions. There’s a lot of griping about how Millennials (of which I am one) are taking too long to buy houses and cars and establish settled lives. I feel very strongly that this has to do with many of us wanting to invest in experiences first, travel the world, and gain perspectives on other ways of life. Okay, and escape for a bit. And see a whole lot of beautiful things.

some beautiful things I've seen

some beautiful things I’ve seen

In short, I think the desire to travel around the world is very similar to the desire to surround yourself with designs from around the world – it’s a desire to continually gain perspective, seek new experiences, and appreciate diversity.

Do you have any global or tribal trends you’re in love with? Does that have anything to do with your travel or cultural experiences? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

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