HERE'S A TASTER OF AN INTERVIEW WITH ME FOR THE ACADEMY OF ART UNIVERSITY, SAN FRANCISCO - THE LINK FOR THE REST OF IT IS BELOW . . .
Keanan Duffty: What advise would you give to students who are looking for a career is trend research?
Ted Polhemus: Once upon a time there was one key trend (Dior’s New Look in 1947, Mary Quant’s mini in 1964) and pretty much everyone followed it. The same was true in, for example, kitchen or car design. The trend researcher’s job was simple but precarious. Of course in, say, the 50s there were subcultures, which ignored the mainstream trend and went off in their own direction. But who cared? Now we live in an age of unprecedented choice. So the trend researcher’s task is to ignore a futile search for the look and instead celebrate the extraordinary variety of looks and styles on offer. Even more complicated, everything today is in the mix (how different styles and looks are put together in one presentation of self or one living room). Complicated, but exciting.
The other complication today is that generations of journalists, photographers and cool hunters (how could anyone even remotely cool call themselves a ‘cool hunters’) have exhausted the traditional trend hotspots. And so many cities like London and NY are just too expensive creatively innovative: how could a young penniless artist find a studio to work in in today’s London? Where could today’s equivalent of, say, The Ramones find somewhere cheap to practice in today’s NYC? No, today’s trend researcher needs to keep an eye on what’s going on in all the world’s seemingly unhip cities. Thankfully, there is this thing called the Internet. When people ask me ‘What’s the next BIG THING’? I say the next BIG THING is that never ever again will there be a single NEXT BIG THING.