Leisure & Design

Leisure & Design

When one talks about leisure, the immediate connection is made to one's passions, and the time one devotes to self-fulfilling activities away from the frenetic rhythm of our daily routines. The worldwide rankings for expenditures among average consumers relating to leisure time (pre-lockdown), saw travel dominate in first place, followed by restaurants. In the medium term, the upheaval caused by the pandemic brought changes to people's ability to travel or dine out. Sporting activity, on the other hand, remains a way people of all ages and nearly all social classes continue to spend their free time.

The motivation to practice a given sport often leads individuals to become completely immersed in a specific discipline and invest a large amount of resources, both in terms of time and money.

The main role of the designer is to respond to the needs of as many people as possible both in the workplace and during the time spent on leisure and sports activities.  First and foremost this entails developing safe equipment to prevent injuries, especially in sports which are potentially more dangerous. The most import features for everyone, and especially for beginners, are ease of use and comfort, in order to facilitate the learning of new movements. For more experienced athletes, however, the most important aspect is the search for ever better performance. To this end there is a continuous experimentation with new materials and models to increase the functionality of the equipment.

Regardless of the sport, all sports enthusiasts share an appreciation for attention to the aesthetic aspect. A certain type of outfit frequently communicates a style as well as a skill level.

The sports sector

The sports sector is growing strongly with an expected CAGR (2020-24) of approximately 9.1%. The growth will be mainly driven by the increase of sports enthusiasts, the number of whom is expected to triple over the next few years from 364 million in 2017 to 1,190 million in 2024. This is the result of our society's growing attention to well-being: playing sports is the best way to feel good.

Though fragmented worldwide, where only the two giants Adidas and Nike exceed 10% of market share, it assumes, on the other hand, extremely high levels of concertation in some national contexts such as China, where the main brands control over 60% of the market.

The task of design is to offer specific products designed for each discipline. To this end, the designers work in the development of new products exploiting the skills of a specific group of users called lead users.  

Future Scenarios

Being able to offer products to help achieve increasingly improved performance is one of the critical elements for success in the industry.

The IoT plays a vital role in helping to monitor sports activity: incorporating, for example, sensors into the equipment to make it “intelligent” is becoming increasingly interesting. The data collected is useful for analyzing individual performance and understanding how to improve it. Another extremely important aspect for improving performance is the search for new materials that are increasingly lighter and stronger. Equipment and activity performance that are always connected and monitored also ensure greater safety at every level.

While at present 80% of those who practice sports are under the age of 45, in the future great attention will be given to people over 65. In fact, recent studies say that physical activity improves cardiovascular activity by decreasing the aging of cells and tissues, including joints. This is a terrain in which design can develop new equipment and new ways to keep these people active in complete safety. This attention also allows to expand the size of the market, with truly surprising economic results.

Increased ease of use of the equipment and comfort will be fundamental to achieving this goal. Famous fashion brands offer sportswear products that many fans like. The task of design in this area is to adapt purely stylistic aspects to highly technical and performing products. The future holds great opportunities for businesses. These will, however, have to rethink new generations of products and new ways of proposing them to the market.

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