Fast Company

Experience Collection

Report From The Futurist

Futurist

Marian Salzman, 39, director of the Brand Futures Group at Young & Rubicam and coauthor, with Ira Matathia, of "Next: The Flow of the Future" (forthcoming from HarperCollins UK, January 1999).

Scenario

"Two seemingly conflicting impulses drive experience today: a focus on creating full, flexible, diverse lives; and a quest for simplicity and control in an ever-changing, increasingly complicated world. The first contributes to an a la carte approach to life. We sample thrills by taking adventure vacations; we graze among cheap luxuries, such as storefront massages. At the same time, we crave continuity. Picture frames, video cameras, and all manner of keepsakes help us package and relive experiences as memories."

So What?

"Permanence used to be the quality of greatest value: 'Diamonds are forever.' Today conversational value is the ultimate form of wealth: An African safari is now far more compelling than a rock on your finger. There is an increasing tolerance for serial monogamy - in relationships, in careers, and in consumption. People collect skills and work experiences with an emphasis on self-improvement and self-advancement. Which means that they no longer bond permanently with a single organization. It also means that companies get workers who are more eclectic and experienced, more focused on learning than on security."

Futurology Decoder Key

"Experience collection is based on a fundamental human paradox: We're eager to move forward but afraid of what the future might bring. As the millennium approaches, the desire to keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future intensifies. Look for the right mix of nostalgia and futurism - Microsoft enlists the Rolling Stones for its launch of Windows 95; Chanel's fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection pairs the long skirts of Coco Chanel's day with a handbag for the millennium called '2005' - and you'll find the leading edge."

Cathy Olofson cathyo@channel1.com is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can reach Marian Salzman by email marian_salzman@yr.com .

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