You do not need a crystal ball to predict global trends in home decoration.
A much more reliable way is to attend the trend seminar at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair today, which will be held from 2.30pm to 4pm in Room 406-407 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.
Keynote speaker Martin Lehec, of world-renowned trend consultant Carlin International, will explain how trends for home decoration and houseware product designs are closely related to various social factors.
He will discuss the global shift towards a better lifestyle, and how these factors are having an impact on world design trends for home products.
The seminar will also present the latest trend outlook of major houseware products markets.
Mr Lehec defined trends as things that last for the medium-term, about three or four years, as opposed to a fad, which might last for six months, or a long-term trend of at least 10 years.
'A fad is a short-term trend, but quite hard to predict, and the long-term trends are also very hard to predict in advance because they are linked to politics, technology and ethics.
'With our trend books, we are giving information for the medium-term trends,' he said.
The main influences affecting houseware trends stemmed from consumers' expectations of a better lifestyle, Mr Lehec said.
He cited 'hedonism and pleasure', the 'two values that have progressed the most among European consumers over the past 10 years' - notably the 25- to 50-year-old bracket and specifically among women - as key drivers.
'This has a direct impact on the product design, with the colours and round shapes of the pop years still attracting us.
'Mick Jagger, for example, is 60 years old and comes from a generation that made the consumer society. This generation has reached maturity yet refuses to grow old, and they are the ones with the greater income. It is useless to play sad in order to appear serious and adult - the notion of subjective age being more pertinent than real age.
'Families, too, have different lives with different environments. We don't want any added daily stress. We want more security. Less stress, more lightheartedness.
'The effect on design is that we prefer transparency and airy volumes. Stars make us dream. We like to put ourselves on stage, to play with spectacular effects as we develop a taste for mystery.'
In the coming season, interior decoration would involve a rethink, starting with the notion of evolution, Mr Lehec said.
Faced with an ever-faster changing world, a new nomadism of the urban population is taking shape. Having become more mobile and knowing themselves now called on to live several different existences, individuals are developing new wishes and new requirements.
'Although they are still in search of authenticity, well-being or comfort, the meaning of these values has been transformed. The need for freedom demands more flexible environments. To meet this challenge, the design must get moving and accompany these transformations.
'For summer 2005, the idea of evolving can be displayed in several themes that are our interpretation of interior decoration,' Mr Lehec said.
'First, a deep change in values will lead consumers to redefine their priorities, centred on the search for meaning and authenticity. The object accompanies this search for equilibrium.
'Purity of tactile materials brings back contact with earth in objects to touch, and therefore to live with.
'Second, it's a fact that the frequency of happy moments is more important than their intensity. Design therefore invites us to lightness and to put cheerfulness into the most everyday gestures.
'Third, aesthetic quality in general, in relation to oneself in particular, is becoming a real challenge. The self-care market is constantly developing, from cosmetics to sport, technology, medicine, fashion and now design.
'As the object becomes more sophisticated, the environment must convey people's good taste and their well-being.
'Fourth, because nature is today in a worrying state, we are now more receptive to other means of production, ready to imagine another way of consuming.'
He identified the following different approaches to design, corresponding with the four themes Carlin develops in its trend books.
He said there were different approaches towards design, including sensitive, relational, self design and eco design.