Milou Ket is a styling and trend consultant for the fashion, interior and innovation industries. The Dutch stylist has unique experiences as a concept designer, advisor in retail, buying and merchandising, as well as in the creation of collections. She is known for her insights into emerging trends for the immediate future, translated and applied in a practical, as well as an aesthetic way, for hospitality and residential markets with a portfolio of clients ranging from Ikea to Volvo and Swarovski.
So, how does she foresee trends and what skills she does she possess to qualify herself as a trend forecaster?
“For me, ‘trend’ is another word for ‘tendencies’, a movement that either grows or diminishes. Usually a new idea or product is launched and taken up by a small group of early adopters before it grows into a larger movement that reaches a substantial amount of people. A trend watcher can foresee, by observing society and how the future will likely develop. He is someone who follows the developments in a specific field when there are enough visual signs or statistics to follow those movements during a longer period of time, in our behaviour, our society, our culture, demographics. When I look back, I was always very sensitive to trends, often ahead of others to adopt new products and styles. Even as a little girl, I had a strong urge to change products, which was not always understood and appreciated in my surroundings,” explains Ket.
After graduation and one year of studies in the US, Milou returned to the Netherlands and got her degree as an art and drawing teacher at The Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In the meantime, she took extra courses in pattern design and draping at what became later The Amsterdam Fashion Institute. Then she landed her dream job…
“Hema, a large department store chain in Netherlands, advertised a stylist position and I immediately felt that was the perfect job for me. Following an American example, Hema was the first company in the Netherlands that had a styling department and I had to advise the buyers at a very early stage. They appreciated my forward thinking. We used to travel twice a year to nine European cities for orientation and to different manufacturers all over the world. Now my profession is called ‘trend watching’ and I am considered a “natural born trend watcher”. The job fitted me like a glove. I still love it and I am so glad that I had this opportunity to develop myself in so many different aspects.”
As a stylist, Ket had to advise the buyers a year in advance about trends for their products. Furthermore, she had to convince them to take important decisions by trusting her forecasts. That clashed regularly and this job requires a lot of diplomacy to keep the relationships good for future work.
“After working for six years, I started my own company. One of my first jobs was to create a fabric collection and I had to work even further in advance. I had to coordinate the colours, prints and weaves, make colour ways and present the collections as well as possible to fashion designers. I had to find new ways to promote the fabrics. My other job at the Dutch Fashion Institute was to inform my fellow designers on coming trends on colours, materials, fabrics, prints, but also on styles and how to interpret them,” explains Ket.
Ket worked as a consultant for Swarovski and its Business Unit Architecture division with emphasis on LED lighting, furniture, window decorations and architectural solutions with crystal. She advised the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on its museum shop and recently made mood boards for industrial designers for five private jets.
“I advise companies on product development and put together collections for them, but mainly products that are trend related. Often I start by preparing a styling report for them where I visualise all the possibilities for their products in the future. In order to advise a company, I have to visit about 15 fairs and trend events every year, but I also visit the shops. I travel to New York, Tokyo, Melbourne, Shanghai and Singapore to Dubai and Istanbul and, of course, a lot in Europe,” adds Ket.
Colour, atmosphere, style, prints, materials and design are incorporated in a harmonious unit and they all find a special place in the books that Ket regularly publishes under a simple title “Trends for the Interior”.
“I publish a trend book for interiors once a year and it contains different themes for summer and winter. The book for 2016/2017 covers six diverse themes for different target groups with their own preference as to colours, materials and shapes. I make colour cards, which I print myself, and also supply cotton yarns for weavers. For every theme, I make mood boards that show important new aspects of the design of interior products. Colour cards are always the starting point and after that I start collecting and sorting products, according to them.
Then I keep myself in a room with piles of cuttings, describing and sorting the images according to colour, and won’t come out before I have finished 10 mood boards. I want to tell a story about colours, materials, shapes, influences and products that fit into a unity. When I feel good about the harmony in my mood board, I am done,” explains Ket.
Every year Pantone announces colour trends for Home Furnishings and Interior Design. Ket adds that sometimes she is glad with what Pantone announces, because it can be a helping hand when she is promoting a certain colour, like teal, for instance.
She saw this shade coming for a long time, but it became much more important after Pantone announced it as the colour of the year.
“I am expecting that colours of green foliage and the blue colours of oceans and lakes will be popular shades in near future. We are very much inspired by nature in different aspects. Products inspired by the weather, herbs and plants in our homes, birds and butterflies. It can be exotic nature, with parrots and exotic animals or our concern for nature, when we recycle and re-use or our love for weathered and distressed products, with a worn look.
For another direction, also metallics, especially gold and copper are important. Interest in handcrafted products and experiments with old, almost forgotten procedures, recipes and products. Old dying techniques are revived. As for large developments, I expect that people will become more conscious of our resources and environmental issues. Smart products will take an important place, but should be invisible. Light will gain importance, with LED incorporated in our curtains. We will see origami and facetted products and walls. Acoustical panels and walls are functional and decorative. Reliefs and textures are important, so we will see laser-cut and lattice works, iridescence and mirror surfaces. Effects of oxidation and handcrafted technologies. I expect a lot of digital printing and customized ideas, especially on a large scale.”
Ket is also an advisory member of the Trend Board of MoOD Fair in Belgium, frequently gives seminars at Heimtex in Frankfurt, Evtekst in Istanbul and recently has been a guest speaker at INDEX in Dubai.
“During my seminars, I usually show my Interior book, but I also prepare special presentations on colours and surface design for print designers and hospitality.. Last year I visited Dubai for the first time and I was very impressed. So, I decided to return. I find some design a bit overdone, but in general I find it quite fascinating and interesting to see the luxury, scale, quality and perfectionism and I really admire what has been achieved. I like the ancient Arabian architecture with the wind towers and they are a good example of natural air-conditioning.”
Follow Milou Ket on Twitter @Milouket