It’s pretty darn easy to think you know what the latest in design is, and where design is going next.

The reality is that design follows a path of consensus, shifting incrementally in unpredictable ways. Sure, we all saw the most recent wave of ’60s, ’70s, ’80s nostalgia coming. That sort of thing is cyclical. But take a gander at this view of 1950, published in 1925. It extrapolates based on sensibilities of the time, and it gets so much wrong that it would be easy to chuckle at its naivete – if it weren’t for the fact that we are probably just as wrong in our visions of the next 25 years.

When it comes to interface design, some of us try to look ahead, or at least gauge current trends and use them to our advantage. A solution that does not pay attention to what might be coming is doomed to a shorter lifespan. Yet, who would have predicted that, in the putty-colored-box era of 2001, the iPod would come along to challenge our concepts of what information storage, portability, and retrieval might look like? ?That device represented the convergence of design, technology, and consumer demand in a way that stood apart from everything else, and paved the way for everyone – everyone – to expect more from the design of just about eveything. If Apple is not the design conscience of our age, it certainly capitalizes on whatever forces make it up.

What I’m getting at is this: we should all strive to think big, knowing that we are probably wrong in our predictions, yet brave in our vision. What you cannot know, ?you can certainly dream.