By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs Coordinator
At the International Home + Housewares Show in March, the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center will present 21 educational programs, every hour beginning Saturday morning and ending Tuesday afternoon. At the Theater, located in Room E350 (near the entry to the Level 3 Lobby), experts in new product development and launch will discuss critical and timely topics in our industry. Over the next weeks, we’ll introduce you to the presenters with a series of blog stories. Be sure to mark your calendars for these exciting programs! Check www.housewares.org regularly for updates on the schedule of Show events.
Practical & Poetic – Global Trend Insights for 2013/2014
Saturday, 2 March 11:30 am – 12:20 pm
Asko Ahokas runs Asko Ahokas Consulting, a boutique trend consulting agency based in New York City for the past seventeen years. With a background in design journalism, Asko is an independent analyst and trends forecaster who has provided consulting services across a range of industries, from urban planning to housewares and service design. Asko has consulted on award-winning international design projects and curated trend exhibitions for the gift and housewares industry. In his native Finland, Asko has also been collaborating with giftware and furniture associations for the past 12 years. For the IHA, Asko advises the association’s international activities and serves on the judging panel for the Show’s Discover Design gia awards.
Asko, what inspires your passion in your work?
I’ve been always passionate about understanding the evolution of trends and how they will impact our lives, whether we are talking about home design, urban planning or social media. I am also inspired by beautiful, good design that elevates our everyday life.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
IHA is the internationally leading venue in the home and housewares industry and I was thrilled to be invited to speak at the Show. I visited the Show last year and was truly impressed with its scale and quality. Also, I am a great fan of Chicago.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
My presentation, “Practical & Poetic – Global Trend Insights for 2013/2014, will focus on trends in design and housewares from an international perspective. With the global nature of markets and trends, it’s important that the Show audience stay up to date on the trends influencing tastes around the globe. Good ideas travel at light speed and it’s more important than ever to quickly understand what we will want next.
This is your first time presenting at our Theater. What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
As this is my first opportunity to participate in the Innovation Theater, I am thrilled to connect with IHA’s audience. I look forward to joining in the wonderful community that the International Home + Housewares Show has created.
How does the Innovation Theater help you spread your message?
It is a brilliant way to meet industry leaders who are passionate about their field. I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas and new collaborations.
What kind of impact can the speakers of the Innovation Theater make at the Show?
Innovation Theater speakers have a fantastic opportunity to connect with the industry by giving practical advice and viewpoints, as well as provide inspiration & future visions for the direction of the industry.
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
We are at a unique crossroads where price, authenticity, safety and good, relevant design are all part of consumers’ decision making. With the abundance of information available online and through social media, consumers are more aware…and more wary…than ever before. And they don’t hesitate to share any buyer’s remorse they may feel if products don’t get it right.
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals face in the housewares market?
The power of social media and the internet have provided an unprecedented challenge – as well as opportunity – to the market. Product development must happen faster and needs to be authentic, functional and innovative. Otherwise online feedback can kill it even before it has hit all the store shelves.
What is the best advice you could give someone trying to get into your area of expertise?
Get a solid education, do your homework, be passionate, see and experience as much as you can, develop your sensibility and don’t be afraid of trusting your instincts. That makes your voice unique and authentic.
Thank you for your comments, Asko. As a U.S.-based consultant with European roots and frequent travel around the world, your insights will be personal and informative, especially timed after your return from some of the big international trade shows. We look forward to hearing your interpretations of global trends, Saturday, March 2 at 11:30 am. Contact email@example.com for further information.