Throughout history, every generation has been influenced by global movements that have defined who we are and how we operate. This has lead many to believe that humans are unique, or that we are on a higher plane than the animal kingdom. However, it is apparent that the common trends displayed by all historical civilisations are far too obvious to argue that case. Ultimately, are we just sheep that are comfortable being part of a flock?
These movements have been studied by countless philosophers, intellects, historians and common folk alike, and for the most part seem to be easily identified within the decades they were birthed. Sometimes physical, sometimes theoretical and at times nonsensical, there always has and always will be a wave that as a majority we ride, and a current that the minority swim against. Regardless of our stance we seldom have no opinion and as such these shifts gain momentum.
We know that back in the 50’s people began to break away from the crowd, fuelled by a post-war optimism that encouraged individual choice of fashion and social stance. But the 50’s were also a time of important innovation. Technological marvels such as the household fridge and electric stove came to market, which led to the women of the home being able to better manage their time than they could in the past. Through these innovations, and thanks in no small part to the widespread distribution of television, consumerism raged which would become one of the most functional and powerful forms of influence for the next 50 years.
The 60’s are most notably remembered as a time that had the industrialised world split between the need for war and the anti-war, peace & love movement. There was also the obvious explosion in social evolution with fashion and music seeing their biggest changes ever. Political equality and civil rights was paramount following significant events such as Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Arguably though, the single biggest event of the 60’s was the newfound excitement for exploration as the Americans and Russians raced to be the first to land on the moon. Our ability to create the rocket ship, such a purposeful machine with immediate success invigorated the globe. If that was possible then perhaps we could do anything…
The battle of opposing opinions surrounding war continued into the 70’s but the emerging movements were female liberation, environmentalism and racial equality. Most importantly, the 70’s saw the world of electronics infiltrate our lives with the likes of current commercial microwaves, VCR’s and the world’s first Central Processing Unit (CPU). Understandably, at the time of its inception no one could have imagined the importance this would have on the functionality of our lives in the decades that followed.
Many people define the 80’s by the daring fashion choices and cheesy music to be found everywhere. Personally, I didn’t mind a bit of Hip To Be Square orFlashdance. Music choices aside though, with such bright coloured jumpsuits and high energy music, it can be easy to forget that this decade was also a significant turning point in modern day thinking. There was the emergence of ‘individual prosperity’, where big homes, fast cars and glamorous jewellery were sought after and fixated on. Mainstream media flourished through glossy magazines, video games and music videos; all of which seemed to accelerate this insatiable craving for self-wealth. Another huge change throughout the 80’s was the sacrifice of quality for convenience, as fast-food and pre-packaged goods became some of the fastest growing products worldwide. This disregard for health was seemingly ignored as the new streamlined way of eating allowed us time for the other, more important areas of life.
The Internet. Who would have thought that this new way of communication, which began commercially available less than two decades ago in the 90’s would be what it is today? Strongly followed by the release of mobile phones, the world as we knew it had changed. Globalisation led to all the industrialised countries becoming more multicultural, and capitalism moved from the select few leading nations to the entire world.
This new globalised civilisation continued to evolve as we entered a new millennium, but with it came new issues. We had now expanded beyond our backyards and saw that actions all around the world were affecting us, including the realisation that our earth was under environmental stress. Our economy was changing more significantly than ever with the long awaited emergence of China and India as economic powerhouses, and much of the industrialised world entering a serious recession now remembered as the Global Financial Crisis. This shift in economics changed the way people achieved business success. As major corporations suffered, the new innovators fed our digital desires. None more singularly explosive than the phenomenon of social media, which gave everyday people and businesses an almost immediate connection to anywhere – and anyone – in the world.
Finally we arrive in the now. This second decade of the millennium is commonly referred to as the digital age, as nearly all of our actions are now either influenced, controlled or even created via modern digital technology. Everything as we know it exists in some form online and this digital real-estate is just as valuable as the ground we stand on. As a bi-product of this digital revolution there has been a shift in thinking over the last few years, a movement towards a more simplistic lifestyle. Businesses around the globe are striving for ways to systemise and automate processes in order to create better products more efficiently. The automotive market has never had so many advancements in such a short amount of time that increase safety, economy, and create a more comfortable driving experience. The housing industry – the slowest of these markets – is also now catching on to the trend with ‘smart’ technology, which is redefining the reliance the home has on our actions and saving time, money and stress daily.
Over all these years, and for years to come, there are trends around socialism, politics, economics and more. Yet underlying each of the decades there has always been a need for things to actually get done. Thoughts, views and opinions are important, but nothing without action and for there to be action, there is a required level of functionality. This is why the world today is so exciting.
Modern technology and the digital revolution are primarily designed around desired outcome. There’s no status quo about the size, shape or aesthetics, only a focus on how it should work. This revolution in design is spilling out into many other industries including that of the automotive and housing markets as mentioned before. Our lives have never been so busy so we are now seeking a better way to do things, not a better way to see things, and that as a single statement excites me to no end and makes me look forward to tomorrow every day.