Since the 1970s, Lidewij Edelkoort, best known as Li, has been forecasting trends for the fashion and design industries, helping such companies as Coca-Cola, Camper and Estée Lauder develop concepts that will shape the next wave of styles and preoccupations. Her website, Trend Tablet, is required reading, and her lectures routinely sell out. In this interview, she told us about what to expect in the years ahead.
If you were to choose one colour that represents where the world is going right now, what would it be?
The greening of colour. That is, beiges, greys, yellows, blues and so on, are getting a green veil; it’s even happening in cinema. Green, the negative of red, strikes a balance. But pink has had the strongest staying power I’ve ever seen. It’s not always the favourite, but it’s still popular. Yellow is the new pink, and I see it having 15 more years of life.
How do you determine a trend?
I start with words, not pictures. Once I find the right word, I do the research and think about the repercussions. Then I search for images. One image is only one message, so I look for two to three to create a final idea. I also have a crazy visual memory. For example, if I see a poster I don’t really notice it, but if I see a second, similar poster I naturally connect them. I can remember specific images and the precise colours from something I saw decades ago.
What’s the usual lifespan of a trend, from the moment you see it forming until it becomes part of the zeitgeist?
Generally, it takes two to seven years for a trend to become mainstream, but there are also long-term trends that last for 25 years or more.
What is the difference between a good trend and a bad one?
Well, I can’t correct trends, and unfortunately I am obliged to report bad news. When things are bad, it’s hard to convince people that they will get better. However, despite the past eight years, which have been quite hard economically and politically, I’m sensing a moderate optimism. Things are improving and moving away from the wasteful society in which we are now living.