Dion Chang shares design trends @decorexSA @jozistylecoza

Design Trend Jozi Style Edward Chamberlain-Bell

Visitors to Decorex Joburg are in for a treat next month, when leading trend analyst, Dion Chang, presents his very latest research into the popular zeitgeist at a conference presented alongside Africa’s premier décor, design and lifestyle exhibition, Decorex Joburg. We caught up with Dion to find out a bit more about his path to becoming one of South Africa’s most important opinion-shapers.
Dion Chang has recently completed a social media challenge: A 100 day promise to share a daily image of something that makes him happy called #100happydays.
Part fun social exchange, part modern meditation, Dion says the challenge was a lot tougher than he thought it would be. “You can’t share pictures of your cat every day”, he smiles.
The one thing Dion’s 100happydays challenge proved to all his followers is that he is as optimistic and positive as he was the day he started Flux Trends nine years ago.
If there’s one thing you could never accuse Dion Chang of being, it is jaded. He is simply inherently curious about absolutely everything, and it is this passion for learning and finding the new which has led to him becoming one of the best known readers of lifestyle, consumer, cultural and popular habits of our time.
It was a gut feel and passion that inspired Dion to start Flux Trends all those years ago: “Trends weren’t really trendy back then. When I started Flux it was more of an information distillation service. There was so much going on, no-one could see the wood for the trees.”
Dion started what he called “open sessions”. His company’s pay-off line was “The state we’re in” and anyone could come and listen to Dion Chang making sense of the status quo. The first session attracted 20 people, these days Flux Open Sessions are fully booked.
Times weren’t always has good as they are now. With disarmingly frank charm, Dion says running your own business is not for the faint-hearted. “Surviving the recession was quite an achievement for us, although the 2010 Soccer World Cup had a far more devastating impact on my business.”
Fortunately for Dion, a sea change in the way the communication world worked created an overnight demand for his insights into the world of media and consumer behaviour.
“Social media has changed the advertising model, and digital media has had a huge impact on print media. People were looking for answers and Flux was there.”
Dion started his career in the fashion and media world. Early days were spent as a make-up artist, then Dion moved into fashion styling for a number of glossy magazines and he was part of the launch team that bought ELLE magazine to South Africa.
It was later, as spokesman and programme director for SA Fashion Week that Dion learnt how to handle the media from the other side and also where he first sensed he was ready to spread his wings beyond fashion and into that uncharted territory of analysing lifestyle trends.
Dion comes with a built-in, old-school sense of what’s news. He says his internal radar is always on and believes it is this sense of curiosity that has been the only (but essential) qualification he really needs for his job.
“You simply can’t have a one-dimensional view of the world if you’re tracking trends. Politics, fashion, food – they’re all interrelated and you have to look at the whole 360 degrees before forming an opinion.”
Dion’s insatiable search for the threads that bind it all together means he is a compulsive collector of information. He is always reading and has a delightfully old-fashioned way of keeping track of news: Throughout the year, he clips newspaper articles and stores them in a file. Most of the time, however, he’s bookmarking digital reading material and says the “Pocket” app allows him to catch up on reading wherever he is.
At the end of each year, Dion sifts through all his reading material and picks up the threads and trends that have longevity.
Dion’s current focus falls on encouraging his corporate clients to find their own point of view instead of following others. Much like the Design your Life theme, you’ll see at Decorex Joburg this year.
“We have become so saturated with celebrity culture, with seeing the same things wherever we look, it’s becoming critical that someone develops their own point of view.”
“I cut my teeth in fashion, when the world of design came up with clear movements like punk and the Antwerp 6 – these days’ no-one making statements anymore.”
We asked what is inspiring him right now, he says it’s the subject of a monthly business column he writes in Sawubona, the SAA in-flight magazine: Unexpected Business Opportunities in Trends.
“I am fascinated by disruptive technologies and the opportunities they create. Business models in the 20th Century simply have to adapt and change, and this brings with it so much opportunity.”
Don’t miss the Dion Chang’s Design and Trend Forecast by Caesarstone at Decorex Joburg on 7th August at 9am. Click here to book your ticket.

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