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September 02, 2004

Peclers Paris Futur(s) 4

A friend of mine who was in law school once said he took two kinds of classes; those that would help him in his career, and those that would make good dinner conversation.

Today I went to a presentation that was definitely in the latter category. Microsoft has a "design and usability excellence" group and they invited a woman named Francoise Serralta to give a talk. Francoise works for a French company called Peclers Paris. They describe themselves as a "styling agency" -- visit the website if you want to know more.

Peclers does design consulting, but they also put out publications you can buy, which give quaterly advice on what is happening in color, materials, patterns, etc. And, they put out an annual report called Futur(s), which "analyzes the evolution of major socio-cultural trends and consumer attitudes" and "presents an exclusive and creative approach to defining the look of tomorrow's consumer goods." (so the email said).

Francoise is the driving force behind Futur(s), and she came to Microsoft to talk about the most recent version, the fourth one (hence the name, Futur(s) 4), which came out in April. This is actually a unique opportunity because the book sells for $5935 (yes, that's more than five thousand dollars), and normally only consulting clients of Peclers Paris would get such a presentation.

Francoise, who is an impeccably turned-out, charmingly-accented French woman of indeterminate age, spoke about the five main transversal currents described in Futur(s) 4: Happy Fuzz, Re-naissance, Famous/Anonymous, Essensual, and Lost in Fantasy (don't worry, it will get no clearer as you read on).

This was (honestly) fascinating stuff. She talked about "animated transparency -- based in mystery, lace, and open work effect; concealing and revealing play inside the transparency." In other words, casemodding is a harbinger of the future. Under a subset of "Happy Fuzz" (which she also called "Happy Blur") called "Tech Romance", she said that technology was now more preciously seducing. I love that phrase, "preciously seducing." It's what inspired Steve Jobs to look at an iMac and say, "Don't you just want to lick it?" And, according to Francoise, there is a new romantic approach to technology, in which convenience is less machine and more human. Even the vacuum cleaner is glamorous, or, as she neatly summed it up, "Everything is round."

And blogging has not escaped her semiotic eye. Under "Famous/Anonymous", she talked about "Black Energy" and the "Dark Parade", by which she means the adbusters, hackers, flashmobbers, and bloggers who are descendents of the rock-and-roll subsersive artists, seeking to counter the prevailing commercial energy (she said that, not me). She mentioned that the fancy clothier Comme des Garcons has started creating Guerilla stores, which appear and disappear within a year, and initially require you to find out their location from someone else who knows -- shades of Orkut!

The book itself is also interesting, it has various samples of materials and colors for you to get the full tactile experience, and has much more background research and expansion of the themes that the presentation touched on.

I'm not sure who was in the audience, but there was at least one package designer (Microsoft I guess is horribly violating the "everything is round" direction by taking a round CD and immediately putting it in a square case inside a square box). It turns out that the materials used on things like remote control buttons is actually something that people study and design, and there were a couple of people from the Microsoft hardware group who thought about issues like that.

Posted by AdamBa at September 2, 2004 09:42 PM

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get in touch with the peclers team please ..so much fun reading you in paris

Posted by: serralta at September 13, 2004 02:24 AM