Fanciful design prognosticator Mark Dziersk predicts trends toward hard-appearing materials, multifunctional plastics and compostable polymer biomulch.
Dziersk, vice president of design with Chicago-based Herbst LaZar Bell Inc., made the predictions at a global design trends seminar in Chicago during NPE 2003.
He pointed out that the hardness seen in phenolic Bakelite has a rich history from plastics' earliest days. Such retro-type material ``will get a patina over time,'' changing color and developing a kind of richness that ``makes me crazy'' from a design perspective, said Dziersk, who also cited a ``return to modernism'' with its crisp, clean, geometric shapes, and tendency toward translucency.
Trends in design and color no longer run in decade-long cycles, he noted. ``The clock has been reset.'' Now, two- to three-year cycles are more common, especially for high-volume products. Currently hot are any plastics that feel, look or act ``real,'' such as soft-touch thermoplastic rubber, or that have the appearance of brushed aluminum, glass or wood. He cited research that said that 70 percent of consumer product purchase decisions are made in the store, which makes the look and tactile properties of such items vital.
Multifunctional plastics may have conductivity, integrated circuitry and ability to transfer both information and electricity in cellular telephones or combinations of cell phones with personal digital assistants.
``The ability to be conductive with a small amount of current would be a huge, widely accepted norm,'' he said.
Dziersk described his vision of biomulch as ``a plastic with DNA'' that possibly ``could live inside your body.'' He said it is ``sort of an ideal,'' but short product cycles may make it feasible. If a polymer-based product was biodegradable, ``wouldn't it be great if you could bury that in your back yard?'' he asked.