by Marie Browning (December 18, 2006)
(Note: Marie Browning, best-selling author of more than 24 craft books, product developer, and craft designer, now has over 1 million books in print. Twenty-one of her books are published by Sterling Publications and three books are published by North Light Books. Marie’s books are available worldwide with selected books reprinted in French, German, and Chinese.)
For everyone in our industry, from manufactures to teachers, distributors to retailers, and everyone in between, it is important to keep up with the trends and how they effect and materialize in our industry. Along with everyone else, I am desperately looking for the “next big thing.”
It is becoming harder and harder to find new trends. Trends used to be well defined and easy to spot, but everything is happening so fast and design is so eclectic, the biggest trend seems to be there is no trend! Trends are now becoming fads with lightening-fast technology that announces the newest colors, motifs, and techniques through blogs, websites, and instant messaging. This technology also allows consumers to share their views, likes, and dislikes just as fast.
One lifestyle trend that is growing is that everything is hip. The “cool” and “wow” factor are everywhere and are being driven and embraced by the Generation C’s. I have been scouring the marketplace, reading trend reports and magazines, and have come up with some interesting thoughts, some new products, and technologies that may have an impact in the craft trade in 2007. I have included some of my favorite examples of this movement. Hope they spark new product or promotion ideas for you.
Kitsch crafts – it’s edgy, it’s cool, it’s retro, and it’s the craft projects we did in the 60’s and 70’s. They are being featured in books, magazines, and on “hip” new websites. Many of these projects are also Eco-inspired – a return of the recycled craft project. How about a toilet roll holder made from a coat hanger or a bowl from a vinyl record? Everything is being recycled – check out www.tramplamps.com for a very unique home décor accent. Two new craft publications that support this trend are Craft: Magazine (www.craftzine.com) with the byline “The first project-based magazine dedicated to the renaissance that is occurring within the world of crafts” and ReadyMade magazine (www.readymademag.com), “Instructions for everyday Life.”
Sometimes it’s all in a name – Benjamin Moore is now calling stenciling “wall tattoos” – way cooler than just stenciling. Even craft shows are getting hip – check out the vendors for this fun, fresh and funky craft show in Seattle: Urban Craft Uprising (www.urbancraftuprising.com). How about cartoon-like furniture (www.dustfurniture.com ) that is both fun and functional; are similar surfaces to paint and decoupage far behind?
Color trends: It’s the continuing story of colors that do stuff. Heat-activated car paint with changing hues or interference colors showing up in fashion. In home décor, glass tiles lining shower stalls are heat sensitive and burst into a rainbow of colors when the hot water hits them (www.movingcolor.net). New color technology has also made Zubbles (www.zubbles.com) possible – brightly colored bubbles that do not stain clothing when they burst.
Art in general is becoming more entertaining. With the popularity of Internet video sites, you are now seeing lots of how-to videos for making anything from silly putty or watching space paintings being created with spray paint. A great example of entertaining visual art is Michael Israel (www.michaelisrael.com), who’s becoming a popular attraction at large functions and definitely has the “wow” factor.
Do we need to rethink how we teach crafts? How about a craft video that is actually entertaining as well as informative? The Book of Cool (www.bookofcool.com) is an example of a hip direction in how-to videos. Sites such as eHow.com (www.ehow.com) and wikiHow (www.wikihow.com) are growing in popularity (Check these sites to make sure information about your products is correct; better yet, submit your own projects!) Another fun promotional idea is flip books (www.flippies.com) – how cool would it be to illustrate a technique with a flipbook!
I am looking forward to 2007 and with the “hip” new stuff that is happening. Another bright point is a new trend emerging, and – surprise, surprise – that new trend may be us. Yes, the craft industry may very well be the next big thing.
A recent trend briefing from trendwatching.com (www.trendwatching.com) announced
Hobbynomics as an upcoming trend. This new lifestyle trend has people creating not for money, but for sharing and self-satisfaction. I look forward to hearing more about this trend that could have more consumers making things with all types of creative materials and priding themselves in giving homemade gifts.
In closing, I would like to share a “Craft Manifesto” written by Ulla-Maaria Mutanen, a Ph.D. student at the University of Helsinki in Finland. This policy appeared in the HobbyPrincess blog (www.hobbyprincess.com) and was the result of when Ulla-Maaria started to think about why we enjoy making things.
1. People get satisfaction for being able to create/craft things because they can see themselves in the objects they make. This is not possible in purchased products.
2. The things that people have made themselves have magic powers. They have hidden meanings that other people can’t see.
3. The things people make they usually want to keep and update. Crafting is not against consumption. It is against throwing things away.
4. People seek recognition for the things they have made. Primarily it comes from their friends and family. This manifests as an economy of gifts.
5. People who believe they are producing genuinely cool things seek broader exposure for their products. This creates opportunities for alternative publishing channels.
6. Work inspires work. Seeing what other people have made generates new ideas and designs.
7. Essential for crafting are tools, which are accessible, portable, and easy to learn.
8. Materials become important. Knowledge of what they are made of and where to get them becomes essential.
9. Recipes become important. The ability to create and distribute interesting recipes becomes valuable.
10. Learning techniques brings people together. This creates online and offline communities of practice.
11. Craft-oriented people seek opportunities to discover interesting things and meet their makers. This creates marketplaces.
12. At the bottom, crafting is a form of play.
(Note: Marie’s recent books include Paper Mosaics (Sterling Publishing, March, 2006); Casting for Crafters (Sterling, April, 2006); and Metal Crafting Workshop (Sterling, June, 2006). Two new books will be released in 2007: Paper Crafts Workshop: Traditional Card Techniques (Sterling, January, 2007) and Paper Crafts Workshop: A Beginner’s Guide (Sterling, Spring, 2007. Marie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.mariebrowning.com.)