Future Forecasting: What Will the "Classics" Be in 2050?

Future Forecasting: What Will the "Classics" Be in 2050?

Jennifer Hunter
Sep 6, 2012

Hindsight may be 20/20, but for savvy collectors, the future is where it's at. But which pieces are timeless and which are a flash in the pan? That's the question the New York Times' Julie Lasky asks in The Classics, Circa 2050.

Prompted by the lofty claim by Kartell, the producer of Philippe Starck's infamous love-it-or-hate-it Louis Ghost chair, that, after 10 years in production and 1.5 million plastic baroque-style chairs sold, they'd attained "icon" status, Lasky investigates what it takes to earn the label "classic." She examines not only how we define classic and what it takes to reach it, but also consults contemporary furniture experts to get their best predictions about what we'll be loving for decades to come.

Chairs are a popular choice, since they tend to best represent a time period. As Cara McCarty, curatorial director at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, points out, "They relate to the architecture of the time. When new materials are being worked on, they're often tested on chairs."

Does it seem a little avant garde to call it classic? Don't count it out. Sometimes experimental thinking triggers a new design movement by planting an idea that will be refined and perfected by many creative minds. Architect Emilio Ambasz uses the metaphor of oaks and seeds. He says that certain iconic designs, like the Eames lounge, "are like big, strong oaks in the forest. They will last for many years, probably with many little descendants." But he recognizes that, "since 2000, I've only seen things that are more like seeds," that is, design that may not survive in its original guise, but is important because it gives rise to other creations." If, as the article suggests, my iphone is merely a seed of things to come, I can't wait to see what's next. With our ever-increasing pace of change — in technology, aesthetics and design — it won't be long.

You may be as surprised by some of the future classic picks as I was, but even if you don't agree, it will get you thinking about how we live now and how we'll live for the next 50 years.

Tell me, which items do you think will stand the test of time?

Read the whole article at the New York Times.

(Image: The New York Times)

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