Irina van der Sluijs

Trend forecasting

I don’t regret not having a TV, except for one time a year (okay, two times if Federer plays Nadal in the Wimbledon final). That is to watch Zomergasten, a marathon interview series broadcasted over the summer. The concept is simple: one guest, one interviewer, 3 hours of conversation about film, documentary, photography, television, life and art. The more personal it gets, the more interesting.

This year, to my surprise, Zomergasten was made available on the Internet to view the day after its broadcasting. Hurray, how wonderful to watch it at my convenience, at my own pace, review things and make notes. Or fast forward if the talk or clipping is not interesting.

Lidewij Edelkoort’s episode I can watch over and over again. I hung on every word she said. She drew me into her world, her interesting world of trend forecasting, the art & business side, her vision, her take on things, life, art, culture, humanity, species. But most of all I was overwhelmed by her personality and authenticity.

It is so rare to see a person on TV who is genuine. Edelkoort was, unapologetically. No need for big words or emotions to get her message across. Instead, she focused on telling her own story, sensitive and fun, that she carefully selected with accompanying film. A story she also performed with her livid eyes and tactile hands & arms.

I relate to her message that we need the arts & culture to survive as a species. In her extract from David Attenborough’s “Life” - series (BBC, 2009) we see how two birds, two male bowers, design love nests (‘seduction parlors’) with incredible dedication and patience. It takes them a year to build the roofs out of branches, to decorate the interior with matching flowers and ‘carpet the floor with moss’.   

One of the bowers has chosen shiny little beetles to decorate his entrance. He has a hard time getting them to stay in one place and not crawl away. The other preferred deer dung – not taken into account the fungus growing out of it after a while. That is not the way he designed it, so he starts picking the fungus out of the dung, bit by bit.

Amazing to witness the behavior of these birds, indeed, as Edelkoort puts it, the culture they created to seduce and procreate. Culture is inherent to species, not something we humans invented for the fun of it. We need it to continue growing, cultivating and not fall back to barbarity. The same way we need the arts to confuse, adapt, innovate and eventually integrate into mainstream economics.

Edelkoort has worked in fasion & design for many years. Her take on trends and fashion go way beyond this season’s hipness. Trends, Edelkoort states, do not last 1 season, but 50 years. We live in times with parallel and overlapping trends. They do not know boundaries, artists and designers from different parts of the world tap into the same vibrations, feelings, needs of people, societies or the environment.

I particularly liked and recognized the deeper trends in fashion, to feel clothes that protect and cover, materials that are soft, silky, woven, colors that are earthy, simple, and natural. Edelkoort herself dresses ‘abstract’ to be able to absorb the input from the outer world. Somehow she manages to create with that a story, in the form of a book or an exhibition that tells us what is going on.  

Now, if only we had more people and politicians listening..