Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Tactile Trend

Every morning, if I can carve out the time, I review my RSS feeds to see what amazing events have transpired in the last 24 hours. One of the feeds I always check is Trend Hunter. After flipping through article after article today I realized they really are not finding trends at all but random bizarre, creative and aberrant products or behavior. However, I did spot a trend. The digital revolution has decreased our tactile experience. Physical touch seems to be minimized by distance and a reliance on electronic communication. It's not uncommon for my family to have a video chat including my daughter who's attending SCAD in Savannah, Georgia and my older daughter who's attending Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.While it’s great that we can chat "face-to-face," it's still not as warm and intimate as a conversation that's synchronous in both space and time.

So the trend I see is the pairing of technology with anachronistic accessories. For example, the bamboo iPad case from BoxWave pairs the most modern of technologies with one of the oldest. Perhaps there is no more clear example than the pixel chair, which looks like a low-resolution photo but is constructed of padauk, and elegant and exotic wood from Africa. Of course, the steam punk movement is a third example of this trend.

So, what do we do with this trend? We would be best served by simply remembering that, although consumers are embracing the convenience of the digital revolution, they have a desire for a connection to the past. Giving them a tactile, analogue experience can be the key to making an emotional connection.

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