LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, June 7, 2014: CEO & Chief Product Architect Elon Musk plugs in a Supercharger to a right-hand drive Model S at the UK launch of Tesla Motors' Model S electric car at the Crystal. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The future of products is about human-centric design concepts that enable people to achieve more, emotionally and functionally, bringing together the best ideas and technologies through embedded intelligence and human-centred design, personalised and enabling experiences, building communities and movements.

Designs for a better life

The obsession with which Jonny Ive and his team develop a new Apple product is in stark contrast to the beige plastic boxes that used to package expensive technologies. Similarly in household cleaners, the beautifully styled and colourful containers of Method, stand out from the ugly containers of other cleaning or soap brands. And then there is the toilet paper of Renova … black, red, pink, yellow. “Why does toilet paper have to be boring?” asks the Portuguese brand’s CEO.

“Human-centred design” sounds obvious, yet the majority of product designers and developers are still preoccupied with their product. They are makers, with a love of craft, tinkering and technology, features and style. This matters, but what people do with products matters more. HCD was pioneered by IDEO to rethink the design process, to start with the person, then finding a better way to solve their problem or seize their ambition.

Products bought off a store shelf, and left for the consumer to use is rarely enough. The experience they have in using it, getting more out of it, is what really matters. The musical genius of Apple was not the iPod, but iTunes. Similarly the App Store makes the iPad useful. Disneyland makes fictional characters become real. Sharing experiences across a user community makes Lego more fun, and difficult to imitate.

Products are rarely enough. The future of products lies in how they are applied, link with other products and services, to help people achieve more.

Human, intuitive and intelligent

In the future products will be ever more

  • Aesthetic – products are objects of desire as well as functional devices, with beautiful ergonomic designs, materials and colours.
  • Human – they are more human in what they do, and how they work, but also with personalities of their own, from Alessi “bird” kettles to Asimo robots.
  • Intuitive – forget the instructuion booklet, products should be so intuitive that you can use them in minutes, with easy navigation and control.
  • Compact – miniaturisation of technology, and particularly of power supplies, drives flat screens, small devices, and spray on nano-tech.
  • Intelligent – your phone has more computing power than a NASA space shuttle, and most electronic toys are smarter than a jumbo jet.
  • Connected – wireless and online, but also connected to each other, to the cloud, controlled remotely, talking to other devices, sharing experiences.
  • Personalised – designed uniquely for you, whilst a device might come in a small number of styles, the components will be infinitely customisable.
  • Sustainable – sourced, produced, packaged and delivered responsibly, enabling reuse or recycling, efficiently using of power, and other resources.


Meet the Gamechangers in Futureproduct

Dollar Shave Club – "Our Blades Are F***ing Great"

Dollar Shave Club delivers amazing razors and grooming products for ... a dollar a month. The provocative start-up cuts through an industry built on emotion-driven profit margins to showcase a new world of targeted relevance, disruptive innovation, direct selling, subscription pricing and viral communication.

Read more about Dollar Shave Club >

Freitag – Extraordinary bags from the Swiss design brothers

In 1993, Markus and Daniel Freitag brothers first created their own brand of recycled products, Freitag, using Tarpaulins, inner tubes from bicycles and automobile seatbelts. Freitag brothers have seen commercial success in the global market; yet at the same time, they are in constant pursuit of sustainable business cycle.

Read more about Freitag >

Ipsy – Michelle Phan reinvents the beauty industry

Michelle Phan is the world's most successful YouTuber with almost 9 million followers of her daily video posts. She has inspired women across the world through her beauty tutorials, and in making the right choices in a bewildering market. To help them she created Ipsy, where for $10 each month, subscribers receive a Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products, showcasing the best products and stylists, but also commoditising their brands. Ipsy is now the world's largest online beauty community, and a fabulous example of influencer marketing.

Read more about Ipsy >

Lego – Rebuilding the business with “creative play”

Lego almost died. Under pressure from an avalanche of digital games, the classic toy brand responded by seeking to imitate its challengers, losing sight of what made it special.

Read more about Lego >

Method – Superheroes who make cool products and happy homes

Method is the cleaning products that believe in being doing good whilst also iconic features and beautiful fragrances for your home. With attitude and ambition, they declared war on dirt.

Read more about Method >

Nike – Business designed at the speed of the swoosh

Nike is a design and branding business, with a focus on digital technologies and “amplifying nature.” It is about function and fashion, but most of all about athletes and achievement.

Read more about Nike >

Philosophy – The miracle worker ... inspiring people to believe in more

Philosophy is a skincare brand with a message to inspire your life. Rather than functional science, consumers engage in emotional wellbeing, and being part of a community who believe in better.

Read more about Philosophy >

Renova – The sexiest toilet paper in the world

Renova is on mission to brighten up your life. Why is toilet paper white? The Portugeuse brand a hit in Hollywood bathrooms with its black paper. Colour is a bold, but simple way to change the game.

Read more about Renova >

Sprout World – The Plantable Pencil Company

Sprout World is a Danish company that develops sustainable and plantable writing tools. The company was established in 2012 by Danish entrepreneurs Michael Stausholm and Jonathan Løw. The Brøndby-based company's main product is the Sprout Pencil, which was originally invented by three students from MIT in Boston USA. It recently also launched the SproutSpoon. Sprout products are now available in more than 60 different countries.

Read more about Sprout World >

Tatcha – Beauty inspired by the Japanese Geisha

Vicky Tsai was sitting at her Merrill Lynch analyst desk watching 9/11 as it happened. It made her realise that there must be a better world. She started to explore the world, culture, and spirituality. She was taken by Asian culture, and in particularly the secrets of the Japanese geisha. Tatcha was born to share the geisha's wisdom with modern women everywhere, and to further the belief that true beauty begins with the heart and the mind.

Read more about Tatcha >