It’s entirely appropriate that we find ourselves marking our 20th anniversary at a moment of tumult, change and disruption. We started our journey on an analysis of the future on Viewpoint magazine, steering issue #9 into a future vision of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. That was back in 1999, and with Martin in the editorial chair and Chris delivering the creative direction, the magazine soon began to attract the attention of a far broader readership than previously targeted. The biannual, themed nature of Viewpoint enabled us to move our gaze from one topic to the next, and so began an insatiable interest in defining what was making us – people, consumers – tick.
It wasn’t long before the phone started ringing and we’d receive enquiries that would begin: ‘We love the way you’re thinking about the future and addressing the changing mindset of this new consumer – do you know a consultancy with the same philosophy?’ We only had to scratch our heads for an answer and come back with a negative a few times before we knew we were on to something. Our previous experiences in the world of work – Martin as a broadcast journalist and lecturer in fashion journalism, and Chris as a theatre director and art director – had fostered an interest in both the behaviours and inner lives of individuals. Sensing a disintegration in the traditional patterns, structures and mores of late 20th-century society, we latched on to a quote by the distinguished writer and thinker William Gibson: ‘The future has already happened – it’s just not very evenly distributed’
This appealed to our fashion- and trend-tuned sensibilities, and we could already see how the world was moving towards a lifestyle model that was deregulated, fast-moving, casual and hungry for the new; keeping our eyes, ears and intuitive feelers on the alert for the next thing to emerge out of Hoxton, Brooklyn or Shinjuku.
And so The Future Laboratory was founded, born out of a clear and present need from a market hungry for someone to help them navigate a course into uncharted waters, or to ‘lands where there be dragons’. In reality, it was never either that romantic or dangerous. But it was, and continues to be, a fun, exhilarating and mind-stretching journey.
And that’s because of all the clients we’ve worked with and all the people who have worked for us and continue to work for us. The Future Laboratory has never been about two men and a dog. It has always been, and will always be, a collection of independent, charismatic, forthright and inspirational people determined to seek out the new and the next. Together we have helped forge an industry, shape the future and make it happen for countless companies and brands. Together we have sought to make a brighter, more optimistic and sustainable world a reality. Together, we’ve had a lot of fun, some amazing conversation, intense arguments, and created incredibly relevant, perceptive and visionary work.
Thank you all, and here’s to the future.
Martin and Chris