What will product design look like in 2024?

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As part of our series on design in 2024, Rodd Industrial Design’s managing director Ben Davies offers his view on what product design might look like next year.

What do you think product design will look like in 2024?

2024 is set to be a year of conscious change, marked by a growing acceleration towards sustainability, a redefinition of technology’s role and a shift in consumer behaviour towards more flexible, empathetic ways of living. 

Here are the key trends set to shape the year ahead. 

Going beyond sustainability

As the planet-imperative penny drops, is sustainability on the cusp of mass adoption? In 2024, we expect smart brands to move from simply being “less bad” to actively doing good, swapping offsetting for design practices that are inherently sustainable at their core. In the face of urgent climate challenges and a growing waste crisis, we predict a consumer backlash to consumption and a seismic rise in repair, longevity and cherishing brands that want to buck the historic trend. 

Less tech at any cost

We’re moving away from hype-fuelled product releases towards meaningful technological advances. “Thin-is-in” is gone. This millimetre crunching product development mantra will be phased out as conscious brands pivot towards products with longer lifespans. Inevitably, our waiflike consumer-tech will need to bulk up as removable batteries and repair-friendly fixings become the new norm. We expect design-led brands to embrace this trend, triggering a resurgence in a more robust view of tech that seamlessly combines beautifully curated design with new experiences built around prolonged ownership. 

Robots will not take our jobs

Even as the fervour around tech investments cools, the quest for the next AI killer app continues to be the holy grail for many tech brands. Surely, the future of AI lies beyond productivity gains?  Will Humane’s AIPin take off, sparking a trend of empathetic digital companions that promote less screen time and more engagement with the world around us, or will it go the way of Google Glass? In 2024, we expect exploration in this space as brands seek ways for AI to enhance the everyday. 

Shifting attitudes towards ownership

The burden of ownership is real. Product brands providing adding value services are playing to consumers who prioritise access and outcomes over ownership – and it’s paying off.  Subscriptions, leasing and rental are enticing options for consumers who demand convenience without the upfront costs and commitment. This trend aligns with circular economy principles and preferences of conscious consumers, driving uptake in key categories. 

 

What was your favourite product design project of 2023, and why?

United Repair Centre embodies a growing trend of design-led initiatives that deserve more spotlight. Collaborating with trusted brands, they enable easy fixes for end customers. While many brands are still hesitant to embrace circular models, citing difficulties or the need for new networks, pioneers like United Repair Centre are proving that a sustainable future is not just a possibility, but a present reality. 

Polestar epitomises the near-perfect model of contemporary conscious design. It’s a blend of supreme desirability, planet-conscious ethos and high performance – all wrapped up in a beautifully executed package. Polestar excels in every aspect, from digital presence to door handles.

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