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The 17 threats and opportunities of 2017

With the risk that you’ll read something similar over a dozen times, here is an overview of what the upcoming design year is about. Naming the issues is half of the work, so a little extra retrospection cannot hurt. The junctures of 2017.

T (the threat): Whoever puts money into physical offices has a problem. The physical world evaporates fast into the Cloud. And with that, so does a lot of craftsmanship. From high quality full-color close-fitting print companies to closing print companies. Whatever can go virtual does. Whoever wants to work from home will, trying to be an online entrepreneur.
O (the opportunity): But designers who are on top first, have the best overview. They can pick and choose whatever they want. The question is, how do you hold onto a Cloud?

T: If the Cloud itself can design anything, what is there left to do?
O: The rest.

T: If the local store can Design Industrial, and parts no longer need to be ordered from the other side of the globe, what is there to do for Industrial Designers?
O: Start his/her own local store. But a better one.

T: Designers are no longer necessary. In the I-culture, everyone creates his/her own stuff.
O: But who helps them with that?

T: If any Cloud solution cost $100, nothing can be designed in more than one hour. How do designers earn a living?
O: With designs that are not Cloudable. Other things. For the designer, the challenge is to explain to clients why they still have to pay for that.

T1: I don’t understand any of this.
O1: That’s what everybody says. So it is just enough to know a little more about it that anybody else.
T2: Anybody can make a website.
O2: So don’t bother about it. Just tell them what they should make websites about. And for whom. And for what purpose. And under what conditions.

T: Your studio office building was once a valuable asset. Securing the future. But that idea had to be adjusted.
O: Whoever sees an opportunity here, please speak up.

T: As more and more customers think that pitching is the best way to choose the designer for a project, it gets harder and harder to be selected for your real skills.
O: Pitches are an easy way to select the customers you want to work for.

T: If you are young, it’s way too early to think about retirement. If you are older, it’s too late.
O: Designers should never retire anyway. They’ll always come up with something new. And they never age.

T: Is your country doing well compared to others? Look how successful the rest of the globe is!
O: Your country may have the best copyright laws in the world. How can you take advantage of that?

T: In a global world, there is only a place for beginners and experts.
O: Nothing forces you to become one of those experts.

T: Why does your customer need a website, if Wordpress, SquareSpace, and Facebook are functioning just as well, without needing any design skills to operate?
O: The person who will beat Facebook is probably studying in high school right now. Somewhere.

T: The profession of design changes faster than design education. How can they ever catch up again?
O: Good students don’t need these schools anyway.

T: Is there anything that can be added to the huge number of existing type designs?
O: Yes

T: When all design processes are turned into Agile Scrumming Sprints, it’s hard to break the linear production line and get unexpected fundamental revelations.
O: Methods come, Methods go.

T: How to defend against large corporations?
O: Don’t get acquired.

T: How to cope with all other unforeseen challenges in the upcoming years?
O: Keep designing new stuff that matters. For others.

This list can easily be made longer. Or shorter. In any order. That is why it is a list, a model of reality. Don’t take it too seriously. And make your own list instead. Let someone else’s problem be your advantage. That is what designers can do best. They don’t have Threats, just Opportunities (to add a final 18th platitude).

The headlines in this article are made from coloured layers of Bitcount. Background information about the making of Bitcount can be found here. Bitcount will soon be released by Typetr.