Julie Muñiz is a Cultural Strategist and Curator with over 15 years of celebrated expertise in the home design industry. She forecasts and advises brands on the major macro forces to strategically prepare them for future market and sales patterns.
Julie received her Master of Arts from the Bard Graduate Center in New York. Her extensive background in material culture and design history, coupled with a refined curatorial eye have made Julie a recognized thought leader in the design industry. With an intuitive sense of societal shifts, Julie’s unique insight into future cultural and consumer patterns has become sought after by leading consumer brands.
Julie’s past partnerships include the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Oakland Museum of California, and Heath Ceramics (to name a few). Her expertise has been applauded and featured in the New York Times, Forbes, and on The List TV.
1. What has surprised you the most about the trajectory of your career?
So many things! The trajectory of my career was hardly a straight line—it wasn’t even a curvy line. It was full of breaks, crossroads, U-turns, and parallel tracks. If you had told me in high school that I would have a career in the arts, I would never have believed you. I was the most unartistic person back then. But then I discovered how much I loved art and social history. I ended up getting a Master's degree in the history of material culture. From there I started my curatorial career working in museums. After about 15 years I realized curating exhibitions left me unsatisfied. I left the museum world and started my own curatorial practice helping legacy brands collect and better utilize their history and archives. While I still do this kind of archival and collection work for many of my clients, I began to realize that my true passion lies in understanding how and why cultures create and value the objects they use. This led me down the path of trend forecasting and futures thinking, which is where I focus my practice today.
Even though this was not the career path I had originally envisioned, it so perfectly aligns with my talents, strengths, and curatorial background. It marries my entrepreneurial spirit with my creative spirit. It’s like the best of both worlds.
2. What drives your passion for studying and understanding trends?
Trends are everywhere, and yet they are so misunderstood. Most people think trends are frivolous and fleeting—indeed, some are. But behind every fleeting micro trend is a larger trend, and behind that is an even larger one. These macro and mega trends are the major drivers of change—they affect all aspects of our lives, often on a global scale. Understanding these is like having a slightly murky crystal ball. While it may not tell you the exact future, but it will give you insight into possible futures. I find this incredibly exciting not only because it helps you better strategize better business opportunities, but also because it gives you a higher perspective of the world around you.
3. How can you identify a trend that is wise to explore and follow?
Identifying the most important trends is about noticing all the minor trends that circle around them. I like to think of macro trends as atoms with little electrons spinning around them. These electrons are the smaller trends. Sometimes macro-trend atoms share these electrons with other macro-trend atoms. Sometimes they combine to form compounds or megatrends.
It’s not a neat science so you have to pay attention. You must follow everything, particularly what’s happening in the niche and fringe groups because this is where change starts. You don’t always get it right. But paying attention is half the battle.
4. What advice do you have for people who are reluctant to embrace change?
No one really likes change, but it happens whether you embrace it or not. The best you can do is prepare for it, and the best way to do that is to inform yourself on what kind of change is possible.
5. Who/what has inspired you to be fearless in your career?
My family has always been a source of inspiration and support for me. My father immigrated to the US from Peru when he was a young man, barely out of his teens. He came by himself and was the first in his family to come to the US. My maternal grandfather was a conscientious objector in World War II. He served in a civilian public service camp during the war. It was here that he met my grandmother, who had left her home in Montana to join a peace organization. I think about how brave they were to embrace uncertainty in hopes of a better life, better opportunity, and a better world. I like to think I inherited some of their spirit and strength.