TREND TABLET – Q&A WITH CECILE POIGNANT
I meet Cecile Poignant, as it would be expected in the 21th century, on Skype. My interlocutor for a quarter of a century has been involved in trend forecasting, and for several years she has been the managing editor of Trend Tablet platform, founded at the initiative of Lidewij Edelkoort. I am excited because I have just become part of the editorial team, and at the same time I am curious about Cecile’s career history. The Frenchwoman was one of the first people who created a contemporary trend forecasting ‘industry,’ and her adventure with this profession started from cooperation with Li.
TRENDSPOT – You’ve been working for about 25 years as a trend forecaster. How did it started?
Cecile Poignant -By chance!
I studied fine arts and fashion, I knew that I didn’t want to be a fashion designer so many people were already doing great things, I thought I have nothing more to offer.
Like most students, I was doing a lot of little jobs to get some money. I was working for a professional home decoration magazine. They sent me to Lille in the north of France, to a professional fair. There was a small trend corner. I didn’t know that this kind of job was existing. It was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life (laugh).
For years I was connecting things together, trying to understand how it all works. It was a very natural language to me. I decided that I wanted to join Li Edelkoort. I went there, asked for an internship, finally got it, and I stayed for a long time… (laugh). Trend forecasting wasn’t very trendy 25 years ago, when I was meeting new people and they were asking what I was doing for living, I used to say that I was a stylist, it was just too difficult to explain the idea of trend forecasting or trend watching.
Curiosity is the main character treat of a trend forecaster. You can have it or you can learn it. How it was with you?
I was happy enough to be able to keep the same curiosity I had when I was 4 years old.
At the beginning of their lives children are encouraged to draw, to try things, to test materials.… And being curious is really OK. After a while all that opening up to the world and curiosity is completely stopped. In college or high school, no one asks you to be curious. Most teachers just feed you. Being curious is seen as a bad behavior.
You can only keep your curiosity if it’s a need in your life. For me it was like that.The good news is that you can always « reorganize » your brain and train it to be aware of all the things happening around you. It is like learning a new skill.
You told me how did you cross Li Edelkoort. Are you still working together?
I’ve been working for about 25 years as a trend forecaster, I had different periods in my life. I worked with Li for 12 -13 years when I started to be a trend forecaster. During that time, I took care of long-term trends and brand’s DNA to build up bespoke studies for international companies: Nissan, Phillips, Lancôme, Estée Lauder, Swatch and many other interesting brands in perfume, make-up and in the design industry. Then I decided to have kids. I was happy with my work routine, but I was working very hard at that time. It was not easy to go on working like that and have kids. I quit my job and I started to work as a freelancer.
I specialized for a while in lecturing and I also worked a lot for the perfume industry. For 5 years I have been prospective and design director for the fine fragrance division at Firmenich an international Maison de Parfum. My job was to give inspiration to the perfumers and to enhance their creations with images and words and to present it to the final customer: international brands such as L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble.
Then another period started with internet! I was amazed: it was so great. Such a huge change!
You were living the revolution.
Exactly, that was so cool… I start to help brands building their digital DNA.
I was still close to Li. She told me she wanted to do an online magazine. It was 4-5 years ago, the web was starting to be very social, I came back to her with the idea of Trend Tablet: a platform which is not really a magazine, but a website exploring the social capacity of the internet. I’m doing Trend Tablet by crowdsourcing. People send me a lot of stuff. I make a curation of this material. I also crowdsource interesting contributors, I’m looking for people that have the capacity to understand what is really trend forecasting and are able to share something relevant.
Besides that, what is your role on this platform?
My goal is to do something very human. To me anything today without human feeling is just useless. The idea behind Trend Tablet is to give impulse, light and opening to people on things that are happening. It’s an exchange platform. I’m the one in the middle, curating the good and interesting stuff and bring it up to people. I think about Trend Tablet as a public space, where you can come, talk, meet people and learn. Social media allows it. It’s a place where you can find inspiration and hope. I want, not in naive way, to show the good side of things and the power of creativity.
It was interesting to me that the platform is free while most of this type of high quality content is paid.
When I started Trend Tablet, Li Edelkoort didn’t have any digital identity as there was only a corporate website. There was a need for more interesting content. Today you must give things for free. People are used to have good quality without paying We’re skyping, we use Tumblr, we watch video on streaming, we download music and all that is free… For the youngest generation it’s just normal. If you are in the trend forecasting business and speaking about the future, the minimum is to be aware of where the future is going. The idea is like Wikipedia – it’s free, it’s open and it’s very helpful. The idea behind Trend Tablet is also to be kind of a reference of good standards.
Could you please tell the blog readers about the trend that will play an important role in 2016?
Food is for me a very important subject. Fashion, I mean garments, is not fashionable anymore. We just don’t care that much about it. On the opposite people are speaking all the time about food, sharing photos, exchanging recipes and good places to buy products. Millennials are watching DIY videos and recipes on YouTube. Pop-up restaurants are everywhere, chefs are the new rockstars. The International Expo in Milano was about « feeding the future ». Food is really a trending topic.
What are your future plans?
I started Trend Tablet about 4-5 years ago. I’ve recently thought that it was time to go back offline. Six months ago I started a new format called TRENDxCHANGE.
The idea is to bring Trend Tablet live to people and to use the information I gathered through Trend Tablet. There is a global topic, the first one is « Food Future ». TRENDxCHANGE is made of 2 parts: a slideshow with four long-term trends commented live. During the second part I moderate a round table. I choose and invite entrepreneurs and creative people to share their visions of the future. The idea is to make people see that the trends are coming in our everyday life.
I already presented it in Paris and Amsterdam. It’s working very well and I’m glad that people are very enthusiastic about it.
You should come to Poland one day!
Yeah, with pleasure!