Photographer: Julia Merrett | Leo Dress R980, Adriaan Kuiters | Moon EarringsR800, Pichulik | Villa Lena bracelet R1390, Steffany Roup | Shot on location at Giulio's Cafe.

The 2016 Trends Issue is all about giving you the facts and showing you the connections, so that you can make confident and informed decisions. In her letter to you, our valued readers, Editor Bielle Bellingham explains her thinking behind the relevance of trends, and the importance of not taking ourselves so seriously.


To be frank, this whole business of ‘trends’ can perhaps seem a little poncy at times; even contradictory, aloof and frivolous. This is because they’re often not presented in relation to the grand scheme of things. Herein lies the key to trends: you have to liberate them from isolation, and understand them as a part of the larger dynamic that characterises the current social, cultural and even economic and political climate. Trends are most relevant, and therefore exciting and useful, when you use them constructively and conscientiously with regard to your own story and viewpoint.

It’s certainly not about blindly following what you’re told, but rather about keeping yourself up-to-date, so that you are well equipped to make the best decisions.

This is the main objective of our 2016 Trends Report, presented in collaboration with the International Trend Institute. We want to show you the connections: we present the facts, but also help you to see and appreciate the network of influences at play.

Designers aren’t limited to creating physical products anymore…

they are tasked with identifying needs and patterns, deciphering them and turning them into meaningful experiences. Arguably, this is the key overarching trend at the moment; the stories and experiences we share. This could be the experience of a room, a chair, a dress,  a perfume, a potato peeler, a song, an email inbox or a payment system. I love that Stefan Sagmeister (distinguished graphic designer) disagrees:

Storytelling has taken on the mantle of bullshit… I think all the storytellers are not storytellers.

While I completely understand why he is fed up with everyone rushing out to reassign themselves as storytellers, there is still something significant happening here. There is a reason we’re all doing this – a pattern is emerging – and our job is to make sense of it. Featured in our Design Disruptors story on page 42, Braden Kowitz (designer at Google Ventures) explains:

Designers like to invent all sorts of titles for themselves and all sorts of different ways to describe their little niche of the world. In reality, we are all designers and we are all solving problems in very similar ways.


This again points to the interconnectivity of everything, and, crucially, to the importance of not taking ourselves too seriously. We’re all in it together; everything is constantly changing, we don’t have all the answers, we all make mistakes and we must take everything with a pinch of salt.

As we look to the future, we must pay tribute to our past: the mistakes that were made, the successes and the pioneers who put important movements into play. Gwen and Gawie Fagan are two such South African design icons, whose home we feature on page 114.

It is by looking at these movements that got us to where we are, explains Chris Reid in The Next and the Now (page 14), so that ‘we can project into the future and get an idea of where we are going’.

With this in mind, I ask that as you ‘experience’ this issue, consider it all in relation to everything else that’s going on in the world. Broaden your horizons, adapt and learn from the trends appropriately, and then reinvent them as your own – always with a sense of humour.

I’d love to hear from you! Tell me what you think, call my bluff, or share something exciting… I’m all ears.  
You can get me on twitter @bielleross and Instagram @biellebellingham

Read more of Bielle’s editor’s letters to you here and here.