1 Dec 2008
Trendforum 2008, Munich
The business-symposium for trend research, innovation management, and trend marketing
Monday, 24th November, 7pm. Astonishingly the ICE reached Munich main station in time. I stepped out of the train, and replaced my warm, cosy, but sadly non-chic winter boots by black high-heeled shoes. I indulged in a Starbucks coffee-to-go against the cold and rushed out of the station to find the next tram that would bring me to the informal get-together-event the evening before the trendforum 2008. Getting out of the tram after a 10 minute drive, I found myself surrounded by fashion stores, probably attracting Munichs high society and Russian tourists. I rested shortly, checked my make-up in a pocket-mirror and approached the Galerie Terminus. Inside, every participant received a name plate, to ease and motivate conversations between each other. To enable communication for making business contacts was the central aim of the trendforum. So I placed my luggage behind the coat rack and started to network. As everyone in the Gallery was willing to make contacts, it was relatively easy to do so. Hence, after two hours of talking, looking at pop art, and eating nicely decorated finger food, I owned the business cards of three important people in the field of trends, strategy, and design. Not a bad result. But finally, after looking at around 50 new faces, reading name plates and standing in high heels, I was pretty tired and consecutively fell asleep on the sofa of a friend of mine.
The next morning, Tuesday, 9am, I arrived at the BMW World where the formal program of the trendforum took place. I entered the huge light entrance hall and received a new name plate. This time it was out of metal instead of plastic and to fasten with a magnet instead of a safety pin. I got a delicious cappuccino and sat down in the conference hall to listen to the first presentations. Nine hours of lectures, two coffees, a salad and several conversations later, I was convinced that companies should integrate customers in the process of finding product and service innovations. Customers of today would anyhow redefine and redesign products they buy for their own individualized usage, so companies should listen to their customers ideas to be able to satisfy their needs. The future would be about redesigning innovation, about customization and deep personalization. A change would take place, from designing for people to designing with people. Upon this fact, almost all speakers agreed; from Liselotte Lyngsø (Futurist & Partner, futurenavigator), over Josephine Green (Senior Director Trends & Strategy, Philips Design), to Dr. Bob Johansen (Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future).
On Wednesday, 9am, Cees van Dok (Executive Creative Director, frog design Europe) continued with the subject of design democracy. Among others, he suggested that products should enable peoples creativity. Products should become flexible tools in the hands of their users, like for instance LEGO. Later that day, Stefan Baumann (Managing Partner, STURM und DRANG GmbH) gave a complete lecture around the topic of open innovation. He explained that integrating external experts into a companys innovation process would save money and time. Integrating users in the process would help find innovations that succeed on the market, to design products that truly fulfil users needs and wishes.
Besides informative and sometimes also entertaining presentations, the trendforum 2008 offered a trend experience world that presented trend-setting products that are already on the market. Like the Microsoft Surface, a touch screen table usable by intuition, Pleo, the baby dinosaur robot who is willing to learn, and the Sony Rolly, a dancing mp3 player.
At 5pm I sat in the ICE on my way back to Frankfurt. My feet were hurting and my head was full of impressions. Altogether, it was a satisfying trip, stressing the importance of integrating consumers in future innovation processes as a central topic of different presentations, and leaving time and space to talk and discuss with speakers and participants- who were decision makers, trend analysts and designers out of different branches.