words Kieran Long
This time next year you will be drinking Slovenian sparkling wine in Genoa, buying über-premium products from single-door retailers, riding on hydrogen-powered double-decker buses and spending your weekends in Winkottages (prefabricated modular summer houses). Or at least you will if Tyler Brûlé has anything to do with it.
Brûlé left Wallpaper*, the magazine he founded, a year ago and headed for Zurich to concentrate on his creative agency Wink. He has just released the first Winkreative Forecast, a speculative document aimed at spotting trends and business opportunities for firms at the cutting edge of consumer culture.
The report, to be published twice a year, will attempt to identify the products, people, places and services that will improve the way we live. It also promises to be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anything that Brûlé says is cool has a way of finding its way into the hearts and minds of certain Wallpaper*-generation people.
The racing-green cover of the forecast sets out its serious intent: the formal typography is what you might expect of a quarterly economics report. The trends in this self-absorbed little green book range from big picture identification of potential new markets – the 35 million under-20s in Iran, for example – to tips on individual designers, such as Swiss furniture designer Martin Altwegg, and everything in between.
Many of the architecture and design trends are already passé. Tipping Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas as the coming thing seems a little late in the day. However, this is by turns a provocative, cynical and fun manifesto.
Who is the forecast aimed at?
Tyler Brûlé It’s a bi-level approach, really. We are talking to existing clients – the agency has an intelligence-gathering background, and we’ve always offered this to our clients as an extra service. It’s also about the journalistic background of the agency. People are looking for leadership.
How do you see the forecast’s readers?
On a long flight across the Atlantic. We want this to be in the hands of marketing directors, and CEOs, and the idea of them breaking the green spine on the plane is what we wanted.
Why the plain green cover?
From a design point of view, we wanted it to feel very bookish, and very upmarket and expensive [the Winkreative Forecast costs £50 a copy]. It’s also quite exclusive in terms of distribution.
What brought you to Zurich?
Zurich is a hub – it really is in the centre of Europe, and you can get flights to almost anywhere even though it’s quite a small city. We ruffled quite a few feathers here initially, by winning one of the biggest creative pieces of business in the country for 20 years [Wink scooped the rebranding of Swissair], and the conservatism of the country has helped us in a way. People tend to fall into a complacent zone – they feel comfortable if the numbers are right, and have a false sense of security.
What next for Wink?
I think the forecast could serve as a platform to move into conferences. Also, this could become electronic – something constantly updated.
How would you feel in a year if your predictions come true?
I’ll be absolutely thrilled. I’d be even more thrilled if we had a hand in making it happen – we don’t want people going off and doing it all with someone else!