5 predictions for design in Southeast Asia in 2021

The business of design is alive and well in Southeast Asia. While COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in many industries and professions worldwide, the demand for exceptional design has never been higher.

As we look forward towards 2021, I am thrilled to share my five predictions for the upcoming twelve months - based on my observations, professional experience and chatter from networking channels.
By Jan Takacs, 16th January 2021
Prediction #1

A record number of designers will switch jobs

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation initiatives of many businesses and organizations. This is driving demand for design talents and creating a boon of new job openings.

More prominent, global companies will also enter the region in 2021 trying to capture the market (and it's potential) - further spiking the demand for design expertise and escalating fight for the retention of key employees.

Prediction #2

Visual design will come full circle—and shine again

For many years, designers were trying to shave off the notion that "they are only making things beautiful". We were convincing everyone left and right that our primary responsibility is to define how products and services work. It has been successful to an extent, but the importance of top-notch visual design has been somewhat sidelined in the process.

In 2021, visual design will again become one of the crucial components for success as consumers demand world-class look and feel for any product, service, content or system.

Prediction #3

Business savviness will make and break careers—and become a key differentiator

Speaking the business language was always a tough challenge for many designers, but it wasn't a significant dealbreaker before. COVID-19 changed how businesses think, act and operate, putting more pressure on profitability, finding new revenue sources and innovations.

Designers who will not link design outcomes to the companies' larger goals might get left behind.

Prediction #4

New remote working opportunities will encourage and reward being adventurous

The recent boom of remote working will encourage designers to (digitally) venture out of the region and try opportunities in markets previously thought unthinkable, too complicated or just not comfortable.

This will change SEA designers' narrative of being too focused on local (rather than global) needs and reward courageous individuals with new valuable experiences and career growth.

Prediction #5

The quest to capture the massive audience and digital adoption of products and services in rural areas begins

Technological advancements and digital transformation of governments and businesses will dramatically impact rural and low-income communities. Tens of millions of people in these areas will soon have equal access to information and services as their urban counterparts.

These developments will redefine how designers think of products and services, as they will have to cater to a more substantial portion of the population with an incredible variety of needs, motivations and preferences.

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