Q&A with Anne Robert, trend watcher with a passion for all things design

Anne Robert is a marketing specialist and trend watcher with a passion for all things design. Over the past three years she has tracked the amazing new concepts and great designers that are pouring out in the outdoor design category. She publishes her best finds in a series of free e-newsletters, which you can sign up for and get free on her consultancy website, The Outdoor Stylist. Anne specializes in going behind the scenes to understand the dynamics of the outdoor design market to help brands and designers assess these dynamics and understand how to profit from them. She writes the Get Out! column o Design – Milk as well.

In the “Garden goes Balcony” Contest, Anne participates as a Jury Member. In this interview she shares invaluable insights on trends with us.

You are a “trend watcher” – where do you spot trends?

The outdoor market is at the cross roads between many universes: interior design, architecture and of course garden designs.
The sector has one major specificity though because of the specific challenges outdoor designs face: nature, the sun, the wind, the temperature, dirt from the environment … so  we also keep track of technological options coming to the market

The Outdoor Stylist attends major fairs. We also talk to designers all year around, that provides insights into what they are working on.
We also look at the fashion world and of course we look very very closely at all the changes in interior design and architecture

Do you sometimes have a gut feeling that something will turn into a trend or do you assess the hard facts only?

As a market observer you think you ‘ feel ‘things whilst in fact it is your brain, which with you even noticing, is picking up on hard facts, subtle changes…
Your experience and sensitivity mixes all the info up and produces a gut feeling. So I would say both.

By the way, I think there are ‘trends’ and currents and options in fact. The market is so huge and so diverse I think the word trend is a little overused. Some things change for good once you have the arrival of a simpler technology. Some things change because the ‘ zeitgeist’ is different.

What does an idea need to develop into a proper trend?

Excellent question!
A trend is something towards which things/ ideas tend to go. It is a direction. Factually it needs adoption and repetition. It needs to inspire beyond its immediate application.

Do you have some advice on the latest trends in outdoor furniture design?

I will answer by a non answer. I am surprised that the very hot trends seen last year in Milan have not yet been adopted by the outdoor market and am very sure they will very soon. Specifically I am very intrigued to see how the outdoor players will adopt the gigantic return of pattern on walls for examples in interior design.
Colors such as variations of red, variations of green and yellow have started to filter in the outdoor decor market : see for example the new yellows used by Serrralunga.

Outdoor spaces are used for many diffrent things now . During the same day a space can be used to relax, to work to entertain …
by kids, parents or teens. More and more designs take this on board and are multi purpos. Designers also take on board the issue of lack of space
Just a few examples of combination designs:

Material wise, what’s the latest discovery?

I think a fantastic innovation comes from textiles and more generally upholstery.
Thanks to massive research and investment brands like Gloster are changing things.
You can now  have high end designs with ultra comfortable upholstering without any hassle.
The new designs can stay out with no covers and dry fast. That is a real step change.
Example

Do You have a balcony? What do you use it for and what would be the balcony of your dreams?

I do indeed and that balcony inspired me to start the outdoor stylist in fact! I use it as an extension of my living room.
I am redesigning the whole think right now. It will be a flexible space with art light and an outdoor fireplace. I would like to have grass on it and possibly some livestock like hens.
A second outdoor space/ balcony is becoming an outdoor gym. Will add a TV on the wall to follow Wifit instructions or  yoga videos

About the author

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4 comments

  • avatar

    chickens and gardens are a natural match. never heard of them being kept on a balcony or apartment. it would need to be a special new breed designed not to fly over the railing or make expensive telephone calls.

    Tuesday May 31st, 2011 05:33 AM
  • avatar

    design milk is a very nice website, i like it alot.

    Tuesday May 31st, 2011 08:55 PM
  • avatar

    way to kiss up martina. you suck. frieda will delete this post promptly.

    Wednesday June 1st, 2011 09:49 PM
  • avatar

    hahaha i am not kissing up! :) i do like the website, although i dont check it out as often as designboom, yanko and core77 (ok , now i am kissing up haha).

    Thursday June 2nd, 2011 03:32 PM
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