2020–2023 trend forecasting: the one thing you need to keep in mind

ECONYL® brand
6 min readJan 15, 2020


Greg Rakozy, Unsplash.

Forecast trendsetter Rikke Skytte warns the audience during a keynote about sustainability and trends, “Attention, no one is coming to save you. This life is 100% your responsibility”. From here, we’re taken on a fantastic journey that highlights trends and the future of humanity, where sustainability is a megatrend that is here to stay and one of the fastest-growing sectors of design. Ready to start 2020?

Rikke Skitte is a forecast trendsetter from Denmark. We meet her in Italy while she is visiting our headquarter to give a trend presentation focused on sustainable design. She describes her work as gathering meaningful materials from all around the world to then “peel the layers off” and get to the essence, the zeitgeist, the spirit of our time. Knowing this is like having a good pair of lenses to focus better on what is important and let that guide us into an unknown future.

And uncharted it really is. Maybe more than any other period in the past. As humans, we are more aware of ourselves and the world around us than at any time. We are conscious of our fragility and know that we are formed by our experiences in the world. But the world is rapidly changing around us, and we are fed with more information than we are able to digest. So how is it possible to interpret such a fast-changing world when we feel so lost and confused?

What if we told you that the secret to forecasting next years’ trends is one thing?

Maybe Rikke would find it reductive after a two-hour presentation. Still, it’s a really powerful and inspiring takeaway we got from her that works as a compass to navigate trends.

Remember the movie “City Slickers”?

So, yes, also, in this case, the secret is one. Ready to know it?

It’s our humanity and everything related to it that we are afraid to lose, like connections with our inner selves, with others and nature. Around this powerful core, all trends rotate in almost every industry, from fashion, to design, to food, and information.

Alex Gorham, Unsplash

What is a human being?

This seems to be the core question. So, while trend forecasting in the past was very interested in what was changing, now that everything is changing, the only thing we can predict is our humanity and the core of what we are, and what we might lose.

Rikke calls it the Good Life 2.0 and shares a bullet point of how things are changing:

  • From living large -> to being connected
  • From driving solo -> to sharing the journey
  • From slicing it thick -> to knowing your food
  • From pouring it on -> to spending it wisely
  • From throwing it away -> to holding on to it
  • From getting it fast -> to slowing down
Allie Smith, Unsplash

Feeling good and connected is the new “looking good”

Free hugs, sharing services and goods, and group activities are trendy, as well as every activity or product that creates experiences, and that connects us to others, ourselves, and nature. And from the connection, especially with nature, comes a new awareness of what wellbeing really is and how it is connected with the environment and sustainability. Feeling good, as Rikke reminds us, is the new “looking good”. There is no wellbeing for us that doesn’t involve sustainability. And sustainability grows within the concept of wellbeing.

“Sustainability is one of the fastest-growing sectors in design, and it’s not going to go away,” says Rikke.

An amazing time for materials

Wellbeing and sustainability make these amazing times for materials. They are at the center of everything, and there are great research and development on them with the collaboration of different specialists, from chemists to scientists to chefs, to landscape architects, to biologist, and designers. And the results are materials that are alive and often grow themselves. They are inspired by nature and sometimes created by nature itself. They nurture, and sometimes hug us, with their sustainability aspects. And because they grow, they don’t have borders, they cover things with nature like textures that embrace and protect.

“In the future, we will expect materials to be sustainable, they will not need to look sustainable. We will give it for granted”.

Pictures: Unsplash, different authors.

The Prehistoric Legacy

Nostalgia plays a big part in future trends because of this quest to re-discover who we were and what we had and might need to re-connect to. It’s what Rikke calls “prehistoric legacy.” It includes our new obsession for re-discovering our routes, our history, and family tree but also our inner personality, identity, and folklore.

The name of this trend might remind us of the fear that sustainability will force us to go back to caves and give up all the great inventions of the present and past and the tech advancements. But this is not the case. Technology, as well as innovation, will be integrated with the new trends, but they will be used to re-connect us to our prehistoric legacy and some of the values that were there at the very beginning of our journey as humans. Handcrafting will be mixed with technologies, like 3D printing, and science will help us in developing materials that are alive and feel raw, grounded, dusty, and undone. “Flawsome” as Rikke reminds us — a mix of “flaw” and “awesome” that takes its power from imperfections. In design, this megatrend takes inspiration from the fascination of prehistoric atmospheres, presented in a modern key, but with the taste of a time when we were closer to a wilder nature, living in the ground and in organized communities. And then, of course, biomimicry will continue to be popular and a great source of design and fashion inspiration.

Pictures: Unsplash, different authors.

The problem of responsibility

Here, we are back to the initial warning by Rikke, and that was so surprising at the beginning of a trend presentation. But now everything makes sense. Humans are intertwined with nature, but that connection was broken, and now the only way to recreate it is responsibility. Our lives and the world around us are only our own responsibility. Nobody is coming to save us, and even if one day we go to Mars, the same problems are likely to follow us. So, it’s time to change the paradigm. It’s time to take responsibility on the materials we choose, the way we produce stuff, the way we buy and consume, and also the value we lay our foundations on. This is going to have a significant impact on trends, but there is one thing that will guide us through all these changes: our humanity and the desire to connect and thrive as humans.

The message Rikke Skytte showed at the beginning of her presentation about sustainability and trends.

The pictures used in this article are not the originals from Rikke’s presentation. They have been chosen to represent the trend inspiration covered in this article.



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