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Why We Forecast

The Tower at PNC Plaza, Pittsburgh. Image © Connie Zhou

Gensler launched its Design Forecast in 2013 to highlight how business, social, and other trends are transforming our design solutions. The Design Forecast speaks to Gensler’s core belief that great design can power our clients’ success in a rapidly changing world.

From the start, our ambition has been to focus on the most impactful trends. To get a better understanding of the trends most likely to shape our world, we engaged with a leading futurist research organization. What we learned informed our own efforts to identify the drivers of profound change and how design can unlock their opportunities.

Why do we forecast? We believe that it’s not enough to ask, “What’s next?” That question speaks to what we know today, but it’s important to go further—to consider possible futures to come. This led us to a 10-year horizon for 2016’s Design Forecast. The year 2025 is close enough to imagine, but far enough away to produce dynamic, even revolutionary changes.

To create our forecast, we tapped into the ideas and expertise of each of the 31 practice areas spanning our Community, Lifestyle and Workplace sectors. Their leaders met over the summer to share long-term trends and visions of the future. They also reviewed secondary trends research, including the Institute for the Future’s 10-year forecast.

To understand how we look at changing social and business trends, think about the world of 2016. How we live today reflects trends that first surfaced in the mid-2000s. The revolution that iPhone apps unleashed began with its introduction in 2007. The most important trends of that era related to technology, rapid urbanization, and sustainability. Today, these trends have evolved without losing any of their impact.

Our iHumanity reflects the fact that technology is humanizing in new ways. It is the new “great equalizer,” universally available, linking up everything and everyone. We’re immersed in it and guided by it. It changes our expectations and our sense of time.

Urbanization continues, but our need for urbanity is even greater. Urbanity is really about the diversity of networks that cities have to support their economies. Thriving cities are innovation engines, which is changing their form, nature, and purposes.

Cities bear the brunt of disruption, whether it's natural disasters or security threats. This gives resilience high priority, with citizens holding cities accountable. But it’s a two-way street: citizens share the responsibility. Smart cities will enlist them and give them scale.

These trends will influence how we’ll plan and design the world of 2025. Superficially, that world may look the same, but our experience of it will be different. Our Design Forecast considers these differences: how they’ll impact people’s lives and everything that supports them. This is where the opportunities lie. Our insights about the future are a starting point, and design is the means to create them. We forecast to get there faster, so our clients and communities can lead the way.

This post is part of a series related to the 2016 Gensler Design Forecast, highlighting trends that will transform how we live, work and play in the next decade.

Diane Hoskins
Diane Hoskins is one of two Gensler Co-CEOs. She is focused on Gensler’s global talent strategies, performance and organizational development to ensure that we serve our clients with the world’s top talent. The catalyst for Gensler’s Research program, Diane is committed to delivering value to clients through strategies and innovations like Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index® (WPI). Contact her at diane_hoskins@gensler.com.

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