Also in our weeklong series:

Health Reports On Our Wrists, The Return of Destination Sites, and Bleisure 2.0

Dollyfication, Apple’s Silicon Transition, and Ego Checks in Hollywood

Fractions, Pop-Up Companies, VR, Privacy Concerns, and The Return of Mobile First

Eigengrau will be the color of 2022

The color Eigengrau (German for “intrinsic gray”) or also known as dark light, is the dark grey color humans see in perfect darkness, and the gray we see when we close our eyes.

It will fittingly become the color of 2022 as it perfectly represents this ongoing period of transformation we’ve found ourselves since the dawn of 2020. Humans need light to see darkness, to see Eigengrau, and we will use this color as a reminder that in the midst of visual noise we can still find clarity.
Christie P., Experience Designer

Down with QR codes!

QR codes are eventually going to be replaced (again) with something less inscrutable, probably just the URLs themselves thanks to phone cameras now being able to recognize real text.
Joana Kelly, COO

Commercial real estate will get blown up by the internet

It took a while for the Internet to blow up the brick-and-mortar side of the commercial real estate market, but it’s finally happening. 

The pandemic has been credited with accelerating inevitable trends and this one – work from anywhere and (specifically) NOT in the office – is here to stay. The implications and fallout from this trend are enormous, it is a fundamental reshaping of societal and economic norms. In the coming year, this new reality will take an even stronger hold and the world will continue reshaping itself to fit this new reality. 

Ditto for the higher education space, there’s bound to be a major shakeup in the college experience in the coming years.
Gavin Fraser, CEO

Slow and Steady wins the race in 2022

With commuting time down and mindfulness practices up, efficiency is no longer the name of the game. We’re all finding ways to do things slowly and more mindfully so that we can enjoy them more – in many ways retrogressing to pre-digital advancements.

Here in New York City, pre-pandemic coffee was usually delivered by coffee machine or by barista. Now it’s being made at home manually and intentionally with French presses and pour-overs. Some people are even taking the time to grind their own beans, despite never having considered it before. Grinder manufacturer Baratza says sales are up 70% since Covid-19 started.

Coffee drinkers, many of whom had their weekday morning coffee routine disrupted, are now willing to spend more of their precious morning time to improve the quality of the coffee they drink at home.

Losing our tried and true morning routines threw many people off and we’re needing to develop new daily habits to help to sustain normality. Making coffee in a slow, purposeful way is a new habit many are turning to.

The way people are listening to music is also a bit of a technological regression. While this was a trend even before 2020, Vinyl sales saw a 94% increase in 2020, hitting $467 million in overall sales.

The efficiency of searching for a song and pushing a button on Spotify is now being challenged by those who want to take the time to remove the precious record from its sleeve,  placing it on the player, and carefully setting the needle down on the desired song. It takes up time, it helps people slow down. It makes listening to music a purposeful experience instead of a background presence.

Despite the ubiquity of cameras on our phones, there still seems to be an increased prevalence of film cameras – at least, according to my Instagram.

Taking photos with film is perhaps the best example of trending towards carefulness and mindfulness. With only 24 or 36 frames available to take on a film roll, a photographer must be careful and decisive. You have to concentrate on a deeper level. The language “taking a photo” remains the same whether you’re taking it with film or via your phone but it’s a completely different mindset altogether. One that people are reaching for in these weird times.

Let’s all move slowly together through 2022.
Melissa Shapiro, Senior Producer

Work-from-anywhere technology will be all the rage. 

Gadgets and tech that deliver better video, better audio, and higher-quality work experiences will become priorities for many. At some point in the not too distant future, we’ll be popping on our VR headsets for work and going into the office in the metasphere. Ok, I used that word. Didn’t want to but there you have it.
Gavin Fraser, CEO

Down with endless scroll!

Prediction (well, more of a wish really): Endless scroll as a social media UX paradigm is going to die next year. There will finally be a big enough backlash against all the dark UX patterns that keep people endlessly (and hopelessly?) engaged with content that endless scroll will become passé and be replaced with… pagination.
Joana Kelly, COO

Subscribe to Observatory

Small Planet Links, News, and Observations