Foreign Policy Design Group


FP Memo #2: January 2020


This new year: a forecast of the year ahead, plus news and views from the front line of design 🔮

And just like that, a brand new year and decade are upon us! We hope it’s been a good one so far.

We’re not too big on resolutions (the best ones are 1080p) but we do like setting goals, so we’ve asked creatives from around the world to share some of their plans and forecasts for 2020. And while we’re looking towards the future, we thought we’d turn to the past for pockets of inspiration, creativity and uplift.

As always, we hope you enjoy these reads, and we’d love for you to not be a stranger – tell us what you’d like to hear about, or simply follow us on Instagram for more byte-sized updates. Happy new year, and happy reading, thinking, dreaming and doing!

We sure don’t have 20/20 vision, but we can plan and look ahead. Here’s what 12 movers and makers from the creative sector have to say about 2020:

Gabriel Cheung
Group Creative Director at R/GA

"I think for studios and agencies, in my case agencies… the traditional approach of trying to do everything all on your own is going to be difficult and quite hindering. A lot of agencies are already doing this, but I think in 2020 we’re going to see more and more studios and agencies collaborate more with other studios and agencies for work."
Tilman Solé
Design Director at Mucho

"As creatives, we will help companies to think up their own, strong, moral structure. This will be a must in the near future."
Jaemin Lee
Graphic Designer/Art Director at Studio FNT

"It’s hard to define and understand trend flows. I’d rather avoid keeping up with them, because it's impossible to think outside the box by following trends.

However, in the midst of the design stream in Korea, the concept of feminism has been taking shape as an important issue. There are some big movements such as FDSC (Feminist Designer Social Club) making bold steps toward gender equality in the Korean graphic design society. The creative field consists of mostly female designers, but very few of them take leading positions, whereas many male designers do. Where are those women? Many female designers have begun to transcend this question with a new question: why are female designers not in the mainstream? The movement will be continued, and we should reflect on this not only as a national, but international issue."

Mirella Marie
Creative Director of Vertigo; Founder of Womentor

"The big plan for Vertigo in 2020 is to focus on sustainability and design for good – working with visionary clients who are making a difference and who share our vision for change, and creating large scale projects and brands that help transform people’s perceptions, behaviours, and consumption. Because social and environmental responsibility is no longer an option for brands – it’s expected. We want to do good work for good people who are doing good things."
Meg Donohoe
and Mitch Paone

Founders of Studio DIA

"We’re looking forward to implementing our design process and kinetic identities into larger experiential formats. We just wrapped the identity for Adidas’ flagship stores, starting with London, and look forward to similar collaborations where design systems can spread across screens, architecture, print and both evergreen and campaign-specific marketing. We’ve been developing new tools for creating content that we’re excited to bring to life and scale. We still believe that strategically rooted concepts should lead our design process. However, when combined with a thoughtful use of technology we can enhance the way people engage with brands and experience spaces. If the technology competes or overpowers the messaging it’s been used for the wrong reason. Additionally, our studio just expanded into Europe and we have some interesting plans in the works for the US."
Liza Enebeis
Creative Director and Founder of Studio Dumbar

"We will keep pushing the way forward in the way we use technology in our work, creating new forms of design that are dynamic and adaptive."
Connor Smith
VP of Brand & Marketing at Kimpton

"I anticipate brands doubling down on humanity in 2020. As the world seems increasingly disconnected, and with loneliness on the rise, travel brands have an opportunity to be a remedy and make a difference. Travel, and hospitality in particular, offers a unique platform to create human connection. It comes to life with people taking care of one another, chatting with a stranger at the bar or lobby, connecting with the neighborhood and local culture; these are all fundamental to the product and experience that hospitality brands are selling. I expect that these human-centric attributes of our industry will take center stage in 2020 and beyond. I’m excited to see this show up in imagery selection, copywriting, partnerships, positioning, and even further in the guest experience."
Thomas Kronbichler
Art Director and Co-founder of Studio Mut

"I don’t think very hard about the future of branding... let’s think about the future of our world :)"
Tnop Wangsillapakun
Founder of TNOP Design

"Using real design to help small businesses who are doing good things for their community and the environment is much more rewarding than giving style to big corporations – that’s all they need from you!"
Arthur Chin
and Yah-Leng Yu

Founding Partners of Foreign Policy Design Group

"In 2020, we’re looking forward to an even greater synthesis of disciplines in the realm of branding and graphic design, and we’re excited to bring our clients’ brands to the next level. There’s also a lot of interesting rule-breaking in the graphic design and typography department, and we look forward to more moving type work.

Branding that takes on more than just a physical form is also on our radar, with lots of integration of content, technology and top-level conceiving of ideas with stakeholders and brand owners.

We plan to focus more on hospitality and culture - sectors where we can make a long-term difference to how we live by creating a strong sense of place and identity. As a studio, we’re trying to be more mindful and conscious about the environment and our society as a whole, and how design can help create a meaningful impact in everything we do. This will be a resounding question that we’ll ask everyone at the studio as we embark on future projects."


National Geographic’s selection of 2019’s 100 best
photos is a perfect blend of the foreign and familiar, from big issues to small stories. Many of the photos examine the natural and built environments, and the fine line between them – a perfect reminder to tread a little more lightly this year.


The jury is out with The New York Times’ shortlist of history’s most enduring and significant spaces. Though their top picks are up for debate, it’s an interesting overview of North American and European design movements, architecture, history and general knowledge.

Dezeen’s round-up of ten trends that have occupied
the design and technology industries over the past year, from the circular economy to a renewed focus on privacy, mirrors some of the major issues and talking points
of 2019.


What a year 2019’s been! We’ve been challenged and rewarded, in equal parts, by some really exciting
projects – while we can’t share most of them just yet (NDAs mean our lips are sealed for now), here are a few that aren’t under wraps:

In August, we teamed up with woodworkers Roger&Sons and creative collective The General Co to launch the first edition of Design Pasar at Jalan Besar, home ground for all three organisers. It’s our way of bringing creativity, craft and design to our neighbours and to the community, through locally crafted merchandise, retro carnival games, day-to-night gigs and tasty treats.

We hope you had a great time and can’t wait to see where Design Pasar’s popping up next – join us as we move towards our vision of becoming an annual festival, only bigger and better each time.

To celebrate its tenth year of bringing third-wave coffee to Singapore, speciality coffee boutique Papa Palheta (now rebranded as PPP Coffee) opened its second store in July. Foreign Policy was asked to create a space that stands out from the noise of the mall – no mean feat, given a site with no walls.

Drawing cues from the mid-century modern era, where a sense of purpose comes through every detail, our spatial design team juxtaposed a retro material palette against steep, mirrored ceilings and crisp stainless steel surfaces for a space where coffee meets tech.

The deli theme of last year’s ham-paos was too irresistible to ignore, so we’ve done it again – with cheese this time.

If you’d like to get some cheese of your own, drop us a direct message on Instagram before noon on 22 January, Singapore time. Each pack of ten envelopes is $12 plus postage – scurry to get them in time for Chinese New Year.