By Jared Gordon
Recapping last year’s predictions, we ended up at a strong 3 for 4:
END OF LETTUCE — Romaine is deadly!!! CALLED IT.
MEMPHIS DESIGN — You know it, because it is everywhere! Think pinks and art deco-ish flourishes, little bit of Liechtenstein mixed with Saved by the Bell.
Bitcoin Volatility — We were as wrong as everyone else about this. Like Bitcoin, I would rate this chaotic neutral.
The Return of the Grateful Dead — This was a big year for what is left of the Dead. Sold out tours, merch being sold at the Gap, tie-dye finding its way into the mainstream… so in the words of Jerry Garcia “Just keep truckin’ on!”
The Return of Punk — When you think of the socio-economic conditions that inspired the punk movement, it bears a striking resemblance to what we are experiencing today. Coming out of the end of post-war consensus politics and on the tail of the rise of strong conservative governments in the US and the UK, punk was the release valve of youth culture. All of these things are everywhere you look. So where is punk?? You could say that hip-hop culture has provided some of that release valve, but with the latest rounds of rappers like Lil Peep (who passed away this year but had an anarchist ‘A’ on his left cheek…) to the oft-imprisoned 6ix9ine, punk’s influence is everywhere. 2019 is the year it comes back in its original form (although hopefully a more inclusive version of itself).
The Honda Civic Phase of Crypto — Heading out to practice your kickflip or nose grind? You are not going to use your freshest deck. You are going to use your beater! Going out to work in the garden? Your yeezys are staying in the house. With the rapid decline in value of cryptocurrencies, now comes the fun part. In the past few years, the focus has been largely on currencies as financial assets (trading them, creating them, ICOs, etc.). Now that they are worth so much less, relatively, there will be much more freedom to create. In 2019, expect to see an explosion of new uses for blockchain, the underlying technology, and consensus technologies that are separate from the asset value.
The Rise of Brutalism — Oft ignored and maligned, Brutalism is going to make a comeback. Typically associated with the use of concrete, its “heavy” look and public institutions, Brutalism will be coming home in 2019. Canada was an early adopter, inspired by Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67. With the increase in global chaos (climate and otherwise), people will be looking for the safety and stability that is conveyed through the visual language of brutalism. The replacement of glass with concrete says a lot about individuals seeking shelter from the outside world and increased demand for privacy, but we are looking forward to a change from a skyline filled with curtain-walled glass cubes.
Marijuana in Your Local Farmer’s Market — The conventional wisdom is that people with a health-oriented lifestyle will be earlier adopters of recently legalized cannabis. The thinking is that cannabis is a low-calorie alternative to alcoholic beverages and is more ‘natural’. What is more likely to occur, and will drive consumption behaviours in recently deregulated locales like Canada, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Kansas, etc., is legalization leading to a healthier population. For years, people have experienced poor health outcomes and addiction from the methods with which conventional medicine has been deployed (over-prescription and aggressive pharmaceutical marketing). The introduction of an all-natural and organic alternative will lead them to question other decisions. “If a painkiller without additives makes me feel this great, what will happen when I cut out processed foods?” Expect an acceleration of recent movements toward conscientious consumption.
Your First Electric Vehicle will be a Scooter — Already a fact of life in edge communities like Santa Monica (home of Bird, a leader in alternative transport), Tel Aviv, and Portland, alternative electric transportation is coming to you. Who knew electrified short-range transportation would be the killer app of electric motors? Well… Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway did. But no-one listened. Within the next 12 months, most cities will have networks of short-range electric vehicles (scooters, ebikes, unicycles, hoverboards, etc.) that you can pick up and drop off anywhere. Mainly for the purpose of moving within neighbourhoods (vs neighbourhood to neighbourhood), users are going to get addicted to that high-torque acceleration you previously could only experience in a Tesla. Expect to see grinning idiots everywhere you look.
From Monogamy to Monogamish — If you have not been in the dating pool for a while, it may come as a surprise that some of the fundamental assumptions have changed. Driven by widespread adoption of dating apps, the presumption is now that your partner has other partners. The centrality of a single romantic relationship to an individual’s life has been replaced by an overlapping web. We expect this trend to continue as more and more participants in the dating pool know no other way of being. Corresponding results will push out the rituals commonly associated with monogamous commitments like home ownership, insurance purchases, etc.
Meet My New Son, Spot! — This is a meta-trend driven by changes in population and interpersonal relationships. Expect to see continued acceleration of spending on pets and associated products (like insurance, clothing, toys, etc). Individuals are also going to continue to invest more of themselves in their pet relationships. As a result, expect an increased wish to demonstrate that identity by the growth of more and more exotic animals as pets.
The End of Packaging — The backlash to the 1/8th full Amazon box has already begun. The Package Free movement will move beyond bulk stores into the rest of grocery and CPG. Already, there are a number of companies that ship plastic-free. Early adopters will be in cosmetics and beauty through refillable containers. Next will be an influx of reusable food containers like beeswax wraps and tiffin boxes into the mainstream.
Rediscovering Female Painters — Make a mental list of 5 classical painters. How many of them are women? It is not that women were not making art, it was that they were shunned by the institutions that controlled art because of their gender. This trend has begun to change. The Helen Af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim received rave reviews for work by a female artist that was produced between 1906 and 1915 and did not receive its first public showing until 1986. Expect renewed attention to unjustly overlooked artists like Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, and Helen Frankenthaler, as well as continued auction records to be set by Jenny Saville and others.
The End of Alternating Current — The focus of the green movements of the past decades has been moving away from dirty methods of energy production like coal to cleaner energy sources like hydroelectric and solar. The supply chains for these green technologies are still incredibly carbon intensive. 2019 will start to see increased adoption of low energy lifestyles. This will combine with the trend amongst the affluent for eating more local, allowing people to get rid of their fridges. Being “off the grid” will be much more expensive than being on it. For consumers, the first step is shifting consumption to off-peak times. You can now expect a movement to lowering overall consumption.
Jared Gordon is Head of Financial Services at TribalScale who built his career at the intersection of human need and commercial opportunity. He is a trusted advisor to global FIs on their transition from a product centric world view to a customer centric worldview and helping FIs create new value for their customers. Jared looks to balance his love of building things that scale, with a mediocre backswing and a love of comic books.