As designers we are in the business of change- How Pearlfisher is seeing the future.

Change is both frightening and exciting and, ultimately, when it comes to brands and business, it is both desirable and necessary. As designers, it is integral for us to be able to open up new ways of seeing the future, and this is why Insight is one of our core foundations at Pearlfisher.

As designers we are in the business of change. And from our point of view, we believe that Insight is all about understanding this change to create a rich and stimulating 'big picture'. To truly see the cultural changes impacting the future of brands. Then with this knowledge we can create bespoke Insight and new futures for specific brands. Ultimately, Insight is fundamental to our work because it shows us to look beyond today to see the possibilities so that we can design for the future.

But to fully explain what we do and how we do it, we wanted to share some selected Q&A's from a recent interview conducted with our very own Insight Director Sophie Maxwell.


What is the Pearlfisher methodology?

We create Insight by looking at change from all perspectives, to define the big shifts that are happening and show what this all means for the future. Our knowledge comes from our ongoing examination of the leading edge. By speaking to opinion formers who we believe will shape the future in their respective fields. We believe that Insight is about understanding change and creating a picture of the future that informs and inspires us. Our Insight programme feeds our entire culture here at Pearlfisher.

Who are these opinion formers?

We speak to a wide spectrum of people globally to get a rich and diverse picture. We are continuously adding to our network and our sources change for every area and brief but they range from the technological opinion former – the innovators who invent new processes and materials – to the street opinion former – people at the grassroots who are influencing culture here and now – and everything in between.

How do you use and process these opinions?

The distillation of these opinions gives us a deep understanding of what kind of change the future will bring and the opportunities open to us. We can then take this future perspective into everything we create, from new brand directions to fresh ideas and original expressions which we then apply in three ways through what we call the three 'c's' - cultural insight, category insight and creative insight.

Technology is driving the whole world forward so quickly. How does this impact on what you are doing?

The advances of technology are obviously having a huge bearing on everything and of course technology plays a huge part in framing what we do. There are four areas that underline the needs and wants of human behaviour and therefore that are most relevant to brands and business and we centre our Insight Programme around these: Taste – the future of food and drink; Body – how our relationship with our bodies is changing; Connection - which explores the changing structures of society and how we relate to one another and Luxury - exploring the future of our aspirations.

So, you're truly designing the future. Is this really different from other methodologies?

We specifically interpret knowledge with our design expertise to create design and brand concepts that actually show just how a new and emerging picture of the future will look. We are not just imagining the future but designing it and giving our clients something that is more tangible and comprehensive. Twice yearly our whole teams in New York and London take focus on a different key area of insight. We then design blue sky concepts that bring to life our visions in a tangible way - so we truly are designing the future! Through the collective expertise of all our teams Insight feeds our entire culture and becomes the basis for everything we create.

Next week we'll share some of our insights and blue sky concepts on the future of Taste.



As Head of Insight at Pearlfisher, Insight Director  Sophie Maxwell leads a highly creative team who are responsible for painting a complete picture of the future for the agency, informing and inspiring in the most imaginative ways and creating the foundation that is essential to design.

With a degree in fashion from Central St Martins and a background in the fashion industry, Sophie takes insight to a whole new level using her visual expertise to bring together global culture, design aesthetics and brand language. Over the past ten years, she has helped shape the visual expression of both niche and multinational brands, from financial services to food, beverages to luxury and beauty. Beyond Pearlfisher clients, she takes her wealth of design experience into the public domain, sharing her perspectives on how brands can embrace change and create the future.

Jonathan Ford, Creative Partner, Pearlfisher will be presenting "Pearlfisher Insight: Seeing the Future" at the upcoming World Future Trends Summit. To learn more about the event, visit the website here. Readers of our blog can save 15% off the registration price with code FT12BLOG.

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