Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort on the future of design


For our “Further Thoughts” series in the 2018 edition of Directions, we asked six of our favorite opinion leaders in media, the arts, travel, design, and food, to reflect on the current transformative movements bringing us into the future. In our first instalment, we spoke to Lidewij “Li” Edelkoort, one of the world’s most influential trend forecasters and Dean of Hybrid Design at The New School in New York, who is perhaps best known for her “Anti-Fashion Manifesto,” which sent shock waves through the design world. The following is excerpted from our conversation:

“If you are creating a dress, you have to have respect for the yarn and the needle, the fabric, the history, the expression.”     – Li Edelkoort

“I’m resolutely going into spiritual mode. I’ve been exploring different faiths, most very ancient, but often still important today. I’m exploring them, not out of religious fervor, but out of a need to find meaning and a need to find new attitudes, a need to rethink the way we live together, and a need to change the world. Because every day it’s more clear to me that there is going to be a big choice in our lives, which is about whether we want to survive as a species
or not. I think we are addressing the problem,
but not yet completely.

“In my study of spiritual paths, I think the most interesting one is animism, which is the belief that there is a soul in everything there is: a soul in pebbles, in moss, in rivers, in shadows, in words. So that means you have to have respect for every single thing. If you are creating a dress, you have to have respect for the yarn and the needle, the fabric, the history, the expression. If you create a hotel, you must have respect for the concrete, the doors, not just for the food and for the music. You want to consider plants.

“So basically it means we need to reconsider almost everything we do. There’s a very strong strain of this in anthropology and in philosophy—the concept that hard materials are living and do have a soul, and therefore the plundering of the earth cannot continue. I’m an atheist, you need to understand. Not even a New Ageist. I don’t meditate. I don’t do yoga. I am coming to these convictions through my research.

“When I watch European talk shows, I see there is a birth of a new morality, the way people are speaking about abuse, about power, on excess of money. I think it’s important that we work very actively on the way we treat matter and the way we make our choices. The whole design process should be a bit more careful. We can’t just make sample after sample. We have to streamline thought, to take more time in the conceptual period, so that we win time and care in the completion period. We need to be more flexible, more creative, more nomadic, more able to improvise.”

The preceding is excerpted from an article in the 2018 edition of Directions, the magazine by Design Hotels. Buy it here for €10 or get a complimentary copy when you order the 2018 Design Hotels Book. On April 19, Li Edelkoort will host an intimate trend seminar in partnership with Liganova at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Liganova x Edelkoort x Milan Design Week takes place at 10:30am at the Anteo Palazzo del Cinema. Design Hotels has a limited number of tickets to give away to Community members. Send an email to for your chance to win.

Sunday, March 4th, 2018