The 5 Biggest Trends That Will Define Product Design in 2016

The winners of Inc.'s Iconic Design Awards come from a variety of categories this year, including toys, sportswear, environment-saving home goods, and more. But they all share one key quality: they nail what customers want now.

We asked our panel of judges what it takes to design a great product today. Below you'll find the design trends they're seeing--and the companies that are leading the charge.

1. Less is more.

Many of today's most advanced devices don't scream "technology!" --and with good reason. "People are gravitating towards wanting as much functionality in as sleek and minimal a structure as possible," says Vivian Rosenthal, founder of custom emoji keyboard creator Snaps and co-founder of Google's 30 Weeks design program.

Apple products lead the charge in minimalistic design--the iPhone is remarkably simple looking, for all it does. The Nest thermostat also packs a ton of capabilities into a simple design defined by basic shapes and few colors. The big takeaway? Keep the frills to a minimum. "A product needs to be intuitive," says Teran Evans, design director at PepsiCo. "It shouldn't be something that comes with a list of directions that's like a scroll, where you have to figure things out."

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