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What We’re Reading: Non-Obvious by Rohit Bhargava

| July 25, 2019

by The Construction Institute Editorial Committee

The “Bar Without a Bar” encourages visitors to interact and build community. / all photos by John Muggenborg

We’ve all been witness to the powerful influence trends can have on culture, community and consumer behavior. As we know, the A/E/C industry is heavily influenced by current trends, whether they be in the form of employing the latest and greatest project delivery methods or choosing the most modern designs or construction techniques. Have you ever wondered how new trends start?  Or better yet, have you ever wanted to predict a trend before it happens?  Good news – you can! – no degrees or certificates required.

In his book, “Non-Obvious”, author Rohit Bhargava outlines several strategies for the enthusiastic beginner. Mr. Bhargava describes himself as a “trend curator” and “listener,” and provides his views on trends, marketing and the future through the annual Non-Obvious trend report. In the latest installment, Mr. Bhargava shares the following tips for the would-be student of trends:

Pay attention to the short-term.  Often when we think of trends, “fad” is the next word that comes to mind.  This is an unfortunate association because it categorizes trends and fads synonymously as fleeting phenomena.  Where trends are concerned, this is not entirely true.  While both reflect moments in time, the key difference between a “trend” and a “fad” is twofold: Trends occur along a timeline and across diverse markets.  By paying attention to the short-term decisions surrounding trends, you’ll begin to identify the changes and influences that will affect long-term decisions.

Styled After a Latin American square, the seating area contextualizes the Mexican and Peruvian beers on tap.

This is a great segue into the next strategy for the novice trend curator:

Train your powers of observation.  Not unlike a physical work-out, training your powers of observation requires diligence.  You’ll need to start collecting things and being curious about other industries.  Spend a few moments reading something different, talking to someone new, or attending an event you never thought you’d attend.  You’re broadening your horizons, but at the same time, you need to be detailed and focused – try to key into details of process that might otherwise go unnoticed and learn something from them.

These are just a few highlights, and by now you might be wondering how this affects the A/E/C industry.  Let’s look at an example – a trend for 2019 called “Strategic Spectacle” and within it, a closer look at “Experiential Retail”.

First, what is this trend?  Strategic Spectacle capitalizes on attention and experience to distinguish a brand or business from the competition.  Found in aeronautics, museum science and the art world, it is increasingly used in the retail sector.

Murals depicting Mexican mythology help give the brewery a sense of place.

Known as “Experiential Retail”, this concept delivers spectacles in the form of virtual reality rides and DJ booths at the Samsung flagship in New York City, or strobe lights and dance parties in Tokyo at the Kawaii Monster Café.  Shopping for men’s suits?  MartinPatrick3 in Minnesota built a city block within an old warehouse that combines business attire, interior design services, furniture, a barber shop and bar, all indoors and under one roof. As the demand for the design and construction of these flashy, high profile features and design concepts has increased, the A/E/C industry has been challenged to use its creative resources to seamlessly integrate nontraditional, eye-catching elements into the design and construction of modern retail facilities.

In this article, we’ve only scratched the surface of possibility when it comes to identifying and “curating” the trends which affect the A/E/C industry. You too can become a “trend curator”! For further reading, first, pick up a copy of “Non-Obvious” from your local bookstore.  Second, begin collecting at the Construction Institute website. Check out our “Resources” tab for access to hundreds of free articles written by our diverse, experienced member authors, and read something outside your daily norm.  Finally, we invite you to connect with us and share your insights – on social media, at our Visionaries Forum, industryREdesign events, or by becoming a member author yourself! 

We’re excited to support your professional journey, and look forward to contributing collectively to our future.

Featured Project: Dos Luces Brewery in Denver, Colorado

Project Team:

Architect: Pirie Associates

General Contractor: Built. Construction

MEP Engineer: Belfay Engineering, PC

Structural Engineer: Prairie Smoke Engineering, LLC

Muralist: Emily K. Grieves

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