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Major design FIRM Fjord maps DYI innovation as a pressing trend in 2021

“Innovation is also a product of people ingenuity in challenging circumstances”. Isn’t the ethos of Maker Faire, too?

Repost & editing from the Fjord website 


Is your ironing board your stand-up desk these days? You’re not alone. Fjord Trends explores how the pandemic has driven a DIY spirit.

Ironing board as a standing desk
Photo: Bex Holland on Twitter

Fjord is one of the world’s major design agency. Now part of the Accenture group, it releases every year a much awaited report that often set the tone od discussions. The 2021 edition is no exception, as it focuses on “being ready, reset and reinvent” as the emerging trends in business, tech and design for the current year.

Mapping out new territory

Across Fjord Trends 2021, the over-arching theme is mapping out the new territory. With the events of 2020 upending so much of what we took for granted, we now need to look ahead with focus and a desire to help people solve their challenges on their own terms. 2021 will redefine the 21st century.

image: Fjord

Innovation isn’t just driven by technology and devices; it’s also a product of people’s ingenuity in challenging circumstances. There’s a pressing need for organizations to rethink their approaches to innovation by offering tools instead of prescribing solutions, and by empowering people to get more creative with how they live.

What’s going on

So-called “life hacks” have been a part of popular culture for a long time, but 2020 amplified this behavior. Creative workarounds have popped up in every home. We’ve seen people repurpose their living spaces and modify household objects to suit their changing needs.

Entrepreneurship is also on the rise, with people converting their pandemic workarounds into careers, like a cyclist who set up Backyard Bicycles pop-up shops to tune up bikes and a former publicist for fitness studios launched her own online workout platform.

Platforms are being repurposed to solve pressing problems. With live shows on hold, Fortnite and Travis Scott partnered up to stage an in-game performance4for an audience of more than 12 million. Platforms are also quickly becoming places for people to monetize their creativity.

Artists are making the most of opportunities on TikTok, with some finding overnight success after their songs and challenges go viral. A fascinating plot-twist, however, is that doctors and nurses are also using the platform to reach wider audiences.

These platforms offer something critical to people with small businesses: a way to easily create content and reach a lot of potential customers.

Image: Fjord

Organisations must join the DIY revolution

Organizations must find a way to join the DIY revolution. They must acknowledge how the lines between innovation and creation, and between creator and customer, have blurred. In the design industry, we have long evangelized about the virtues of cocreating with people to achieve the best possible products and services. But now, organizations should begin thinking of cocreation as an output—by designing tools and platforms that enable people to create for themselves.

Creative teams must take an ecosystem approach to design and build platforms on which third parties can build other products and services. Platforms come in an array of guises—ranging from Shopify, which provides small and medium-sized businesses a way to sell to customers, to the social gaming platform Roblox, which lets players design, buy and sell digital fashion items. Not to mention Maker Faire Rome, of course, and the many maker platforms that all around the world are nurturing and fostering whole new ecosystems of innovators and bridging them towards a market that is in desperate need for hope and fresh inputs

Corporate innovation is not just about ideas. You also need stamina, courage, alignment and leadership to see it through, often iterating over a long period of time before nailing inventions. An old approach to innovation would be to ask: What follows the smartphone? Now, every organization should build a new question into their innovation process: What else could people do or make with this?

Three takeaways

As far as the DYI attitude is concerned, the Fjord report highlights three major actions: 

Shift your focus on customers to one on co-creators. Consider your products and services as “unfinished”— ask what elements of your experience could be co-created as an output and if it could increase the circularity of your business model?

Innovation is a long game. We commit to it. Create innovation habits and rituals that will quickly become ingrained. Stamina matters in innovation.

Create a platform and let your customers use your data to enable them to play and create—with your products and services but also with others. The data you can then generate becomes very valuable.

Fjord 2021 Trends

Curious to dig more into the DIY 2021 trend? Here is the video:


Cover image by Fjord/Accenture Group


Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since eight editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.

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