2006 is going to be a ride for design.

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Traditionally, this time of the year suffers from lack of real, design-related news. Product launches have given way to new year lunches, and project wins are thinner on the ground than a post-Christmas turkey. Designers and artists are struggling to marry healthy, new year detox resolutions with the pressures of looming deadlines in 2006. There’s little time for some real creative action.
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Which means it’s an ideal time to start looking forwards. The past year has seen the start of a rapid turnaround for the creative market – with all design media, from graphics to interactive, reporting a real surge in both turnover and new business. 
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An astounding array of work, coupled with new technology across the board, mean that 2005 will be viewed as a vintage year for creativity. But will the same hold true for 2006? Thankfully, all the indications are for a resounding ‘yes’. 
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More creative professionals working across all media reckon that 2005 could well prove to be just the starter before the feast – and there are several areas where 2006 will really shine.
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For graphics, the continued rise of digital photography looks set to finally be met with some tools that make handling the huge volume of images we use easier. While Apple’s Aperture may have misfired for its first release, expect Apple to launch version 2.0 before the year is out. 
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Adobe, too, will reveal more about Lightroom – its tool for photographers – and it’ll be an exciting battleground that will spell great news for snappers.
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QuarkXPress 7.0 should (finally) emerge from its development, and on paper looks impressive. We might even stop writing the word ‘finally’ in brackets when mentioning QuarkXPress.
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Interactive media will face a rocky 2006, though. On one hand, expect Web design to regain some of the red hot allure that it had during the dotcom boom. Technologies like Ajax sound dull, but the upshot is that design on the Web can become even more fluid. More corporates seem keen to want to dive back into Web sites, and broadband-centric designs will be a joy to work on and interact with.
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The same applies to wireless and mobile devices. While these have been a niche area in interactive output, industry commentators reckon that 2006 will be the year of wireless.
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Mobile phones, PDAs, and convergence devices such as Sony’s PSP and Apple’s iPod will allow for downloading and interacting with content on a level not previously seen. Streaming video will be allowed out of the naughty corner and will start to regain some traction in 2006.
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Problems in interactive design? The battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD mean both video and interface designers will be left in limbo during the birth of HD, while next-generation game design looks set to cost more for a smaller launch market.
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For CG artists, the merger between Alias and Autodesk will cause much soul searching as to which application to support – and we can continue to hope Autodesk 3DS Max is released on the Mac. Here’s to 2006!
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