Reflecting on the true value of things is something that is beginning to spread as the technological development of the metaverse progresses. The Currency, the first NFT collection by artist Damien Hirst, challenges the concept of value by forcing buyers to decide between owning the physical artwork or the digital token connected to it, but in no case both. The project includes 10,000 different NFTs, each associated with a piece Hirst handcrafted. The tokens are sold through a lottery system for $2,000. Collectors choose between the analog piece or its virtual version; if they choose the latter, its physical counterpart is incinerated. As of September 2022, 4,851 pieces had been destroyed.
Photo courtesy of Heni.
Hybrid sensoriality emerges as a result of living in a mixed environment where logical references are lost. The audiovisual intervention Any Day Now by artists Andres Reisinger and Sam Mason takes over the façade of the W1 Curates gallery in London to narrate a poem that reflects on reality and its possibility of transformation in the future. This multi-sensory exhibition explores the integration of what’s digital and what’s physical, through a series of external digital screens and internal installations, which create surreal and hypnotic compositions. Music, images, videos, lighting and elements merge to create eccentric scenes that question human perception. Inside the gallery, visitors walk through dreamlike scenarios where objects acquire eccentric characteristics and proportions, similar to what happens in the virtual environments in which they usually navigate.
Photo courtesy of W1 Curates.
Artists are increasingly incorporating health-related themes into their work to help people understand situations that were previously unknown. Creative studio Panoply creates 3D animations that visually represent the symptoms that can derive from a mental disorder, something that the group perceives has been emphasized after the Covid-19 pandemic and that it is necessary to work on its spreading in order to collaborate in early detection. “Desrealisation” is a hypnotic video with a spiraling narrative that goes backwards through different confusing scenarios. It represents a way to show how familiar and friendly environments that are experienced every day can become strange spaces during an episode of derealization. The feeling of disconnection with others and the perception of a distorted, chaotic, artificial and even colorless environment are symptoms of some mental illnesses. Being able to identify them is an important part of the solution.
Photo courtesy of Panoply.
Unprecedented forms of expression emerge to account for reflections on human existence in a world where the lines between fiction and reality are blurred. The M+ Museum Hong Kong presented Human One, a kinetic video sculpture by artist Beeple, representing the first human being born in the metaverse. The hybrid work of art integrates both digital and physical dimensions as it consists of a human figure in an astronaut suit inside a three-meter-high rotating box-like structure composed of four LED screens. The traveler moves through a constantly evolving virtual world, heading towards a destination that is undefined. As the astronaut keeps moving, the environment adapts and transforms into a collage of different scenarios, from oneiric to dystopian, hallucinatory and gloomy. Beeple updates the virtual landscape every so often, adding elements from the Internet and his own personal experience to reflect the constant contextual change.
Photo courtesy of M+ Museum.
The desire for wellness also extends to pets, prompting a new generation of products and services. Startup Joipaw-focused on preventive healthcare-developed a video game to help dogs reduce the risk of developing dementia. A tablet with a saliva-proof screen placed in a height-adjustable stand to fit the pet plays interactive images of a mole that the dog must touch with its snout or by licking it to trigger reactions. An automatic treat dispenser rewards the player at the end of each challenge. The device is designed to constantly challenge and stimulate the animals' thinking skills, which helps prevent dementia and other cognitive dysfunction syndromes common in some breeds of dogs. The console alerts owners of abnormal behaviors or tendencies in their pets so they can avoid serious health problems.
Photo courtesy of Joipaw.
Expanding a brand’s halo into new areas is an increasingly feasible strategy with the technological resources available today. Disney’s Magical Companion is a new voice assistant developed by Disney that integrates with Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and smart displays. The idea is that the voices of favorite Disney, Pixar and Star Wars characters will accompany people in their daily lives by playing during common tasks performed by the voice assistant, such as timers, alarms and weather reports. In addition, the fictional characters can propose entertainment activities with special stories and games that families can play together. The user never knows which character will respond to their query: Dory from Finding Nemo, Olaf from Frozen or Mater from Cars, among others. The personalized assistant is activated by saying “Hello, Disney” and coexists with Alexa’s voice.
Photo courtesy of Disney.
Art is a fundamental ally in nourishing the customer journey with new emotions. 'Waterfall Arches' is an inflatable installation created by Cyril Lancelin for the Hyundai department store in Daegu, South Korea, that immerses visitors in a maze-like art experience as they go about their regular shopping. Located in the central atrium of the multi-story modernist building, the giant sculpture takes the form of a waterfall made up of a repeating series of looping double arches, allowing people to interact with it from different levels of the building. Multiple sensations are produced when observing the monumental work from the surrounding windows, balconies and escalators. Its green color is inspired by the hues of water and vegetation, two central elements of the site’s existing courtyards.
Photo courtesy of Hyundai.
The widespread application of artificial intelligence is transforming everyday experiences and opening up novel ways of learning. Hummingbird, from the firm Bird Buddy, is a smart feeder for feeding seeds and nectar to occasional hummingbirds visiting a garden. The device is equipped with a motion-sensor-activated camera to take pictures and videos of a bird as it approaches to eat. Then, artificial intelligence reads the images and identifies the bird from among 350 different species of hummingbirds to notify the user through an app and make it easier for the user to learn about nature and the surrounding habitat.
Photo courtesy of Bird Buddy.
Technological solutions in the service of mental wellness continue to proliferate. Tripp is an immersive meditation experience accessible through a virtual reality application that encourages users to focus on their breathing while viewing appealing images that stimulate the senses and enhance mindfulness. The proposal, which requires the use of an Oculus, uses surreal stimuli to awaken feelings of awe, an emotional response that, according to some recent studies, can improve a person’s well-being. The app proposes different scenarios, from natural environments such as a mountain peak or a beach with out-of-the-ordinary details, as well as journeys through wavy, geometric and hyper-colored works of art, something comparable to the use of hallucinogenic drugs. At the end of each session, users spend a few minutes floating in fictitious galaxies bathed in warm hues, a sensation that several astronauts have reported as one of awe and mental calm.
Photo courtesy of Tripp.
Wellness experiences keep being introduced in non-traditional spaces in order to improve people’s personal journeys at all times. Selfridges launched a project called Superself, which proposes to take visitors on a journey of self-discovery and personal care by enjoying different wellness services in its facilities. Under the concept of “Retail Therapy”, it includes a variety of sessions to learn how to breathe, body treatments and sexual therapies. The latter include training options in sexual techniques, as well as hypnotherapy to unlock desire and increase creativity. It is also possible to experience drug-free “psychedelic journeys” in multi-sensory capsules –equipped with virtual reality– where users are stimulated with personalized fragrances, infrared light, kaleidoscopic images, heat and sound. The goal is to offer brief moments of meditation and mental wellness inside the shop. A running club is available for those who wish to reduce stress through intense exercise. A special selection of nutrition, personal care and beauty products complement the experience.
Photo courtesy of Selfridges.
The hospitality and personal care industries are coming together to diversify options aimed at helping women better manage the physical and emotional changes that arise throughout their lives. A new series of services focus on providing solutions for the menopause period, a topic that has been taboo for a long time. Alternative therapies, self-care rituals and specialist advice combine to manage hot flashes, insomnia and mood swings. The goal is to explore natural ways to stimulate female hormones while empowering women to deal with symptoms consciously. Services offer nutritional advice, beauty treatments, mindful activities and relaxing sessions such as massage and reiki. Wellness retreats vary according to their focus. For example, the Preidlhof resort in northern Italy integrates medical wellness with creative therapies for emotional release, while the Ananda Ayurvedic center in the Himalayas uses ancient medicine to correct hormonal imbalances.
Photo courtesy of Preidelhof.
The development of a holistic approach to wellness brings about the integration of the gastronomic, nutritional and medicinal sectors to help people develop long-term healthy habits. Season Health is a service based on a “food as medicine” approach that offers nutrition advice, recipes and home delivery of ingredients at an affordable price to improve users’ health. It works with nutritionists and doctors to develop meal plans aimed at helping patients manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes and kidney problems. Users also get condition-specific educational content to drive sustainable behavior change while also considering their home environment and resources. The company works with healthcare systems to assist professionals in recommending beneficial foods, based on scientific evidence, across a broad spectrum of clinical conditions and socioeconomic status.
Photo courtesy of Season Health.
Managing personal health in real time is a growing need for people. Nowatch is a wearable device focused on mental and physical wellness. It uses electrodermal activity sensors (EDA) to measure sweat gland performance. The device combines this information with readings of the user’s heart rate, physical movements and sleep patterns to help build a diagnosis of their health. Assisted by an app on the phone, the person can access physiological information through dynamic graphs while receiving personalized recommendations to improve performance, such as breathing exercises. The device –which resembles a watch– has no screen to display notifications but an interchangeable gemstone, so it uses gentle vibrations to provide key information, for example, when under intense stress. Developed by Hylke Muntinga and Timothée Manschot, in collaboration with Philips, the solution seeks to break the cycle of overstimulation and anxiety that smart devices often cause to help individuals be aware of their emotions and health.
Photo courtesy of Philips.
The hospitality industry continues to innovate to offer unprecedented adventures that bring new meaning to travel. Some hotels have begun to offer experiences that connect with spiritual aspects, such as the energy of the stars and total eclipses. The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa has partnered with the Abundant Space self-awareness center to lead a special meditation session on eclipse nights. Guests gather at sunset in a garden overlooking the Arizona desert to wait for the full moon to emerge, at which time, they begin a 30-minute guided meditation followed by healing crystal bowl therapy. Afterwards, people can relax around the resort’s fire pits while gazing at the stars and listening to music selected for the occasion. Adero, located high in the Sonoran desert, is the only resort located in a certified “dark sky community”, which establishes areas preserved from artificial light pollution where stargazing can take place in an optimal environment. Guests and amateur astronomers can enjoy stargazing sessions with Star Dudes, a local group of stargazing experts. At eclipse time, people can request high-definition telescopes in their room and use an app to identify celestial bodies in the universe. Star-inspired cocktails complete the experience.
Photo courtesy of Hyatt.
The deteriorating environment poses a health challenge to people who require specific cosmetic products that respond to threatening environmental conditions. Pour Moi developed Smoke Alarm Drops, a skin care formula that prevents damage caused by smoke. According to scientific research, smoke inflames the skin and causes deterioration, premature aging and irritation. The cosmetic solution comes in drops that can be added to a facial moisturizer or sunscreen when there is a forest fire or poor air quality. The product is useful for people both near and away from fire areas. Ultra-fine smoke particles –invisible at first glance– from intense wildfires can travel thousands of miles from the point of origin, affecting air quality in distant cities. Once absorbed by the skin, these particles can cause oxidative stress. A new generation of cosmetic protections is needed to cope with the new environmental conditions resulting from climate change.
Photo courtesy of Pour Moi.
People’s increased interest in improving their well-being promotes the design of unprecedented solutions for simple and accessible self-care rituals. The firm Soma promotes hair and skin health through a shower device that filters water and enriches it with vitamin C to improve the user’s dermis in a practical, everyday way. The device connects to the shower head to filter out harmful contaminants contained by the water and reduce potential skin irritation; the water is then infused with essential minerals, calcium sulfate and vitamin C to restore and rebalance pH levels. The goal is to improve and simplify personal care routines for people living in very dry climates or with hard water problems.
Photo courtesy of Soma.
The habit of self-measuring biological conditions is gaining traction among consumers and encouraging real-time customized solutions in the cosmetics industry. The Hair Lab by Strands is a hair care brand specializing in customized solutions at an affordable price. The aim is to enable people to become familiar with their nature and tailor the products they use to their specific needs. To do this, users use a wearable smart scanner that sits on the hair to analyze texture, scalp type and reaction to the environment, and then suggest a personalized care routine. The shampoo and conditioner to be used are defined from more than 1,000 combinations of ingredients to achieve a formula tailored to the individual’s conditions. All products in the collection are free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, and animal cruelty.
Photo courtesy of Strands.
Online commerce platforms are capitalizing on the entertainment-based shopping trend to add more excitement to the customer journey. Instacart has a new service called Carts that consists of curated shopping lists based on different themes for consumers to discover specific products for a special event or occasion. The selections organize items according to themes such as “game day”, “personal care Sunday”, among others. Shoppers can also browse through shopping lists selected by their favorite celebrities, such as singer Lizzo. The platform also has an affiliate program called Instacart Tastemakers that allows content creators to earn money when their audience members place orders on Instacart, for example, when they purchase “shoppable recipes”: kits of ingredients to cook a recipe recommended on TikTok thanks to integration with that social network.
Photo courtesy of Instacart.
The universe of household appliances is diversifying and incorporating functionalities to respond to trends coming from other industries. LG Styler ShoeCare and ShoeCase are a new series of devices designed by LG to improve the preservation and hygiene of sports shoes. ShoeCare has a design similar to that of a locker, but is a steam box that includes TrueSteam technology that refreshes and cleans the shoes. At the same time, it uses Zeo-Dry filters to absorb moisture and eliminate odors, thanks to the properties of the zeolites. The design offers 10 different programs adapted to different types of footwear, from leather to sports shoes. Depending on the fabric and the type of shoe, it controls the use of steam to dry and cool it optimally. It also has a dual system that allows two different types of shoes with different fabrics to be cleaned at the same time. The ShoeCase, on the other hand, provides a place to store and display shoes while protecting them from humidity and light, thanks to its vinyl panels with a natural light and fluorescent light absorbing layer, which prevents discoloration of the garments.
Photo courtesy of LG.
Tech companies expand to the cosmetics and self-care industry to offer a comprehensive wellness experience. Mama Care line, from Willow, a women-led technology firm, focuses on addressing the specific needs of mothers’ skin. The solutions nourish sensitive postpartum belly skin or improve the dermis of the breasts and nipples from the prenatal stage to facilitate subsequent breastfeeding. The formulas are vegan, animal cruelty-free and made without fragrances, parabens, preservatives, phthalates, and lanolin. They include natural ingredients, such as cocoa bean extract and murumuru seed butter. The products were born as a suplement of the Willow Go portable breast pump, a devise designed to make breastfeeding easier. The wereable is integrated into the bra without the use of tubes, wires or hanging bottles, and offers six levels of suction in stimulation mode and nine variations in expression mode for maximum milk production.
Photo courtesy of Willow.
The metaverse is an original territory where to encourage the development of communities and recreational activities. Nike partnered with online gaming platform Roblox to create a virtual sports universe called Nikeland. The experience includes buildings and arenas where users compete against each other in various mini-games. Visitors can take advantage of accelerometers in their mobile devices to transfer analog movements to the online game: moving the body (and phone) in real life enhances long jumps or speed runs in the virtual competition. There are arenas where competitive events are hosted that run concurrently with global championships. Users can also enter a digital showroom to dress their avatar in special Nike products and view the latest product releases. In some physical stores, it is possible to access extensions of Nikeland, with spaces that take on features, avatars and games from that parallel universe through augmented reality (AR).
Photo courtesy of Nike.
Homes are being transformed to become healthier environments thanks to new functionalities incorporated into architecture and furnishings. Brand Teknos brand has launched a range of paints designed to improve the well-being of residents by purifying indoor air. Biora Air paints absorb and neutralize aldehyde pollutants in enclosed spaces. The indoor environment is polluted by various sources such as outdoor air, building materials and furniture. Impurities that may be encountered include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), small particles or harmful microbes such as mold. The less formaldehyde in indoor air, the cleaner and healthier the spaces are. Surfaces painted with Biora Air paints can purify the air for five to ten years.
Photo courtesy of Teknos.
Exploring one’s mind and finding creative ways to stimulate it is a growing desire in people. Assemble Studio and Collective Act developed Dreamachine, an immersive art installation based on the “ancient” phenomenon of “flickering lights” used to create light patterns behind closed eyelids. The effect is now known as stroboscopically induced visual hallucinations. Visitors enter a room and lie down while listening to music created by Jon Hopkins. As they relax, pulsating lights are transmitted into the room, which stimulates the optic nerve and triggers animated, kaleidoscopic patterns of colors behind their eyelids. The designers and artists collaborated with scientists and psychologists from the universities of Sussex and Glasgow to create an art installation that questions the power of the mind and consciousness. The use of flickering light to create vivid visual experiences dates back to ancient civilizations when communities would gather around campfires and watch the flashes.
Photo courtesy of Assemble Studio.
Events unfold simultaneously in all layers of the extended reality to allow people to access and cycle through the experience at their leisure. Artist KAWS presented at the Serpentine Gallery in London, the exhibition “New Fiction”, with both physical and augmented reality (AR) works accessible to live audiences. Simultaneously, he created a virtual version of the exhibition in the video game Fornite, so players can experience a virtual recreation of the Serpentine gallery and interact with the artworks on display. Likewise, through a special application developed by the Acute Art platform, the pieces can be visualized with AR in any scenario and a miniature version of the complete exhibition can be obtained from anywhere in the world.
Photo courtesy of Serpentine Gallery.
The creative and functional resources of the metaverse multiply and open up new possibilities of interaction and expression for users. Meta presented an interface called “Builder Bot”, with which individuals can create their own digital landscape simply by describing it with their voice. The tool works with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) that can understand linguistic instructions and translate these prompts into aesthetic components within the metaverse. For example, a person can tell Builder Bot to “go to a park”, at which point the empty environment is filled with grass, trees and a blue sky, and then give instructions to add animals into the landscape, which translates into birds and squirrels in the scene. The experience also allows the creation of sounds and music with the help of AI.
Photo courtesy of Meta.
Integrating traditional practices with technological advances makes it possible to devise original solutions in offering self-care routines that stimulate people in multiple ways. Design studio Layer created LightVision, a headset-viewer that uses an LED light matrix to convert nature videos into biomorphic patterns to help users meditate. It does this by combining traditional techniques with vibration, sound and light, which would help users relax and change their thought patterns. Videos of trees swaying in the breeze or fish swimming are transformed into biomorphic patterns that can be viewed through closed eyes and combined with synchronized vibrations and a soundtrack of monaural and binaural beats and isochronic tones (single tones at regular intervals) to trigger the brain’s frequency-following response. LightVision has a minimalist design with an outer shell developed to follow the contours of the user's face to create complete immersion.
Photo courtesy of Layer.
New technological solutions focus on improving the lives of individuals in groups with specific needs. Honda developed Ashirase, a GPS navigation system that is placed in shoes to help visually impaired people walk. It includes a phone app and a vibration device with a motion sensor that is attached inside the shoe to guide the user along a preconfigured route. The vibration indicates the direction the person should take, for example, when he or she has to turn left, the vibrator placed on that side of the foot will vibrate. Navigation is done through vibration in the foot so as not to interfere with the user's hand holding a cane, nor with the ears that are essential to hear environmental sounds and locate spatially.
Photo courtesy of Honda.
Gamifying the customer journey is a resource to make the discovery and purchase of products and services more fun and sociable. Fashion brand Forever 21, partnered with the video game Roblox, to create Forever 21 Shop City, a metaverse experience that allows players to build, own and manage their own in-game stores. Through the virtual boutiques, characters can be hired as employees and signature items are made available for sale. Gameplay includes taking inventory, designing window displays, assisting customers, and customizing store interiors.
Photo courtesy of Forever 21 & Roblox.
The luxury sector is exploring different alternatives to incorporate non-fungible assets (NFT) into its offerings, in order to respond to the demand of customers who are interested in alternative value propositions and creativity. The Selfridges store, launched its first space in the metaverse with an immersive art experience in partnership with Paco Rabanne and Victor Vasarely. The virtual store is hosted on the “Decentraland” platform, and includes optical art displays, original NFT creations and futuristic garments from the fashion brand's collection. Harvey Nichols, meanwhile, presented HN NFT Vault, an online store where it is possible to find a curated selection of NFT, including CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, CloneX x Takashi Murakami, Azuki and Garabatos. Many of these digital assets were made in collaboration with brands from different industries. Selected NFTs can be purchased through the platform with credit card and cryptocurrencies.
Photo courtesy of Harvey Nichols.
Using novel stimuli to bring unprecedented sensations to life is key to developing powerful narratives that connect with individuals and create memorable memories. The architectural firm Stufish built a giant kaleidoscope that allows people to immerse themselves in a psychedelic experience to discover the landscapes of Saudi Arabia. The 40-meter long and 6-meter high installation was made with LED mosaics and mirror sheets (which prevent deformations) and displayed constantly changing images of different natural scenes of the country. Conceived as a journey, some visual sequences provoked a feeling of complete immersion generating a certain degree of physical disorientation, while others allowed to refocus and recognize the limits of the space.
Photo courtesy of Stufish.
Devising systems to reduce consumption and encourage the reuse of products is key in a context of climate crisis. Loop Digital Wardrobe is a fashion ecosystem that digitizes and connects the “closets” of users in order to resell, exchange, recycle or donate clothes. In this exercise, people can also link with friends, influencers and even strangers with similar tastes to access or offer items that are no longer used. Loop aims to encourage sustainability in the fashion world through conscious purchasing processes. The platform also digitizes items at the point of sale to provide retailers with post-purchase data and additional analytical information.
Photo courtesy of Loop.
Transforming brand identity into actions in the metaverse is one of the biggest challenges that companies face. Ambush Silver Fctry, is the virtual experience of the jewelry firm Ambush designed by Active Theory, which proposes a journey into space to discover different elements of the brand. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory studio, users access the adventure through the website, where they transform into an astronaut-like avatar and are transported to a futuristic spaceship. Once inside the transporter, people can choose from four different portals, each offering different experiences. From experiencing a theater piece or visiting the brand's archives, to special exhibits and a store where physical and digital products can be purchased.
Photo courtesy of Ambush.
Tinting the customer’s journey with adventure and discovery is one of the most effective strategies to capture the public’s interest. Apparel company Timberland launched TimbsTrails, a gamified digital experience that allows users to embark on an epic journey through the brand's past, present and future. The experience is divided into six chapters, each focusing on a defining moment in the label’s long history. Through the narrative, visitors virtually visit cities such as New York, Milan, Tokyo and London, where they explore the evolution of Timberland footwear and discover the inspirations behind iconic products. The TimsTrails experience is available both online and in select physical stores.
Photo courtesy of Timberland.
Creating disruptive sensory experiences from food and beverages is a requirement to gain people’s attention and effectively convey the value of a proposal. The Bellboy Berlin bar offers innovative cocktails in an experience that combines elements of design, sound, taste, aroma and touch to immerse visitors in a fantastic and surreal atmosphere. Each cocktail tells a story, for example, the "Viking Club”, refers to a walk in the woods, so its formula includes Amaretto, red fruit puree, Rooibos caramel syrup, eucalyptus syrup and birch soda, all topped with a cracker, to create the idea of breadcrumbs as in Hansel and Gretel. Another cocktail is served in a small tub filled with vodka, elderflower and, as a garnish, a foam bath (drinkable) with a duck as a garnish.
Photo courtesy of Bellboy Berlin.
The retail experience is being transformed to provide a surprising way to showcase offerings that may be associated with traditional sectors. Brand Laufen created an immersive virtual space where customers can explore its bathroom products in interactive scenarios with a common narrative. The environment includes an original combination of architecture, decoration, animation and sound in order to tell stories, provoke emotions and take people on a sensory journey. Four differently themed rooms –urban, desert, forest, and artist– contain moving collages of videos and images, accompanied by a layered soundscape. A multiplicity of figures and visual elements create futuristic and surreal landscapes, as in a video game. Visitors can click on the scene to find bath items from the new Kartell by Laufen collection, which populate each room.
Photo courtesy of Laufen.
The cosmetics and personal care industry is responding to customers’ desire for DIY personal care routines that are adaptable to everyday needs. SelfCareOne is a smart, automated and sustainable self-care system that uses herbal oils to create customizable serums for every day at home. The device contains eight cartridges with botanical oils that can be used to create custom formulations in real time. A mobile app connects to the dispenser and allows you to choose from 50 different beauty, care, vitality, and balance programs. The set of oils was selected by a group of medical experts, aroma therapists, pharmacists, and scientists.
Photo courtesy of SelfCareOne.
In a complex reality where rates of mental illness have increased, it is increasingly necessary to devise novel ways to help people improve their well-being. Project Shape Up: Barbers Building Better Brothers involves young black men receiving free haircuts and stipends to participate in two-hour sessions with barbers trained as health educators in Philadelphia barbershops. The goal is to reduce violence by helping them deal with emotional trauma through friendly peer-to-peer conversations. A similar program is being developed in beauty salons, common community spaces in the black community.
Photo courtesy of Shape Up.
People want to enjoy their immediate environment –block, neighborhood, district– through socialization and wellness experiences. The “Siu Kai Fong” installation, designed by O&O and REHyphenation, seeks to improve the quality of life of the people of North Point, in the city of Hong Kong. Aiming to empower the community through conviviality and the creation of collective memories in public space, the designers have proposed to refunctionalize the district’s pier –where people go to fish, relax, gather– by creating a common outdoor space with homely furniture and a floor with different visual patterns that resembles the mosaics of houses. The result was a huge living room on the dock where neighbors brought their furniture to sit and share it with others –a practice the local community already has– while recounting memories related to those objects.
Photo courtesy of O&O.
Accelerating the transition to a more sustainable way of life and consumption is the proposal of different companies that are concerned about the lack of action in the face of the advancing climate crisis. Furniture brand IKEA began selling renewable energy to households at an affordable price. The clean electricity will be sourced from wind and solar farms, while users will be able to track their usage through an app. The goal is to make solar energy more accessible and cheaper for everyone and to reduce greenhouse gases. Solar company SVEA will buy the electricity on the Nordic power exchange and sell it through IKEA without surcharge; households will pay a fixed monthly fee along with a variable rate. Those households that have purchased IKEA's solar panels –available since 2019– will be able to get an itemized breakdown of production and even sell surplus electricity through the app. To encourage the construction of new clean energy sites, IKEA will sell renewable energy produced only from solar and wind farms that are five years old or less.
In order to surprise the public with gastronomic experiences that stimulate the senses in an original way, the cocktail industry is innovating at an accelerated pace. HighWire Lounge bar uses molecular mixology to create gelatinous balls made from white spirits and liqueurs in an attempt to redefine the way shots are drunk. The range, called Pearl, includes flavors such as Pop Rocks, Mango Mexican Candy and the Pearl Shot, with mint vodka, cucumber, strawberry, and watermelon. The edible spheres are served in special spoons. Molecular cocktail making uses scientific and chemical techniques to manipulate matter and create new flavors, sensations, textures and visual effects.
Photo courtesy of HighWire Lounge.
Collective well-being is an indicator increasingly considered when designing transport services in large conglomerates where stress rates are high. The Berlin public transport company BVG sells edible hemp tickets for stressed commuters. Each ticket consists of conventional edible paper sprayed with a thin layer of hemp (cannabis) oil, which is said to have a relaxing and calming effect. People can remove the wrapper and eat the ticket to make the train ride more pleasant. A small contribution to reducing the anger that can arise from the complications of urban life.
Photo courtesy of BVG.
Dining experiences are being transformed by partnerships with the entertainment industry and giving rise to unusual formats and business models. The video platform TikTok, partnered with Virtual Dining Concepts, in order to develop a new concept of dark kitchens (restaurants that serve exclusively online): a chain of food delivery service with a menu determined by the most popular and viral food and beverages of the social network. The TikTok Kitchens offering will adapt according to changing food trends on the app and will be updated quarterly. Videos with the hashtag #FoodTok –food-related content including recipe experimentation and cooking hacks– accumulated more than 11.5 billion views in December 2021. The first 300 restaurants will be set up in the U.S., during 2022, where TikTok averages more than 130 million active users per month.
Photo courtesy of Tik Tok.
The greater desire of people to enjoy the outdoors encourages the creation of products that facilitate the carrying out of activities in natural spaces. The Vespa SMEG Futro is an e-scooter concept vehicle designed by Yanko Design to accompany picnics in the park or at the beach. It has panels that open and provide access to storage space for a variety of items, including small appliances such as toasters, wine coolers, food storage boxes, thermoses and specially designed tableware. Thanks to the Futro’s detachable battery unit, which is located under the e-scooter’s seat, the vehicle has the ability to power the toaster and wine cooler.
Photo courtesy of Yanko Design.
The food and sports drinks category is innovating product formats and functionalities to help people optimize their physical performance and obtain reliable health data. Gatorade launched a hydration and electrolyte patch that aims to improve the way the body is monitored and cared for while exercising. The patch, which is placed on the skin, is sweat-sensitive and changes color as electrolyte levels fluctuate. It is then scanned with the Gx app (from Gatorade) for information on how to hydrate in the current state. The patches use non-toxic food dyes for measurement and are certified hypoallergenic.
Photo courtesy of Gatorade.
Collaborations between the food industry and the beauty sector are multiplying, giving rise to products with original senses and unusual inspirations. The beauty brand Orly and the chef Kwame Onwuachi, partnered to launch a limited edition nail polish collection inspired by the culinary world. Through the color palette the chef expresses his story and his personal vision of his profession. Chef’s Kiss, a creamy black color, is the shade Onwuachi used to give himself his first manicure. Eggplant is an eggplant color with a metallic shine that reflects the versatility of the vegetable. Sauté is a metallic silver reminiscent of kitchen appliances. The range features gender-neutral colors made with a breathable, high-strength formula.
Photo courtesy of Orly.
The merge of the cosmetics and fashion sectors results in products with multiple benefits that enhance user experience. Alexander McQueen’s MCQ firm presented a scented jacket made from natural latex combined with rice husks and a blend of essential oils. The garment is made from Mirum, a 100% bio-based, petroleum-free, vegan substitute for animal skin. The material was developed by the firm Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), and customized with mineral clay to give it a light color that allows the shine of the rice particles in the vegan leather to show through. Childlike nature motifs by New York artist Kevin Emerson were hand-painted on the surface. The earthy scent –created with the combination of oils– remains on the garment for a year. The piece is part of the Grow Up collection and only 10 units were produced.
Photo courtesy of MCQ.
A new range of smart personal sports equipment is being developed to improve people’s everyday performance. The “Opump” breathing trainer allows athletes to gain valuable information on how their lungs are working when performing their sports routines. Personalized tracking of respiratory strength, vital capacity and anaerobic threshold are provided in real time. The device displays results via integrated LEDs or the user’s smartphone when connected to the app. It also offers breathing games that help improve lung capacity in a simple yet effective way.
Photo courtesy of Opump.
The medical industry is making great progress in incorporating new technologies to improve the visualization of pathologies and enable patients to gain an in-depth understanding of a health diagnosis. Second Opinion, from technology company Pearl, is a clinical radiology device that detects dental pathologies in real time through artificial intelligence. The new software, which has already been approved by the FDA, was designed to help dentists identify a variety of common dental conditions by evaluating patients’ X-rays. This allows them to have a second opinion to instantly validate their findings and provide greater confidence to patients about what treatment to pursue.
Photo courtesy of Pearl.
The demand for customized beauty treatments that are easy to perform at home continues to grow. Nailbot, created by start-up Preemadonna, is a smart manicure device for use at home. The system is able to print artwork and photographs –even those taken by the same user– on nails, to make it easy for people to express their personality in an original way. The steps are simple: the nail is painted with a light-colored nail polish, the finger is placed on the device, a design to be printed is chosen through an app on the phone and, within 5 seconds, the print is made. The device is recharged with nail polish that the company also sells to the public.
Photo courtesy of Preemadonna.
Consumers want to know themselves in depth to make conscious decisions about beauty and personal care products. The +SABI AI app offers personalized skin health coaching. Through artificial intelligence, the interface generates individual diagnoses from a combination of data on lifestyle, bioindicators, environmental exposure and stressors, with computer vision facial scans and hydrosensors. Together with the app, the Tri-light Skin-tech device of the brand Skin Inc. is offered to collect regular information on the state and evolution of the dermis and epidermis. The service was designed from a holistic perspective of wellness by considering mental, physical and emotional aspects that impact the skin’s health. Variables such as water consumption, alcohol consumption, sleep and menstrual cycle are also considered when making an assessment and self-care recommendations. The app’s data source includes one million profiles and 200,000 facial scans to provide individual guidance to each user.
Photo courtesy of Skin Inc.
Educating about emotional health and offering self-care practices in the metaverse is a need. Apparel brand Alo Yoga created a wellness experience within the Roblox video game. The Alo Sanctuary was a free 30-day event where users could explore the island, take guided meditation sessions and yoga classes, as well as collect yoga poses for their avatars. The activities sought to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. By executing each practice (aka “missions”), visitors unlocked access to exclusive items and new self-care sessions. An on-line store offered the brand’s first digital collection of five pieces, including a mat, a strap, socks, a T-shirt, and leggings to be worn in and out of the Alo Sanctuary experience. With each purchase, Alo made a donation to support mental health initiatives through Alo Gives.
Photo courtesy of Alo Yoga.
Creating seamless links between the metaverse and the analog dimension is a requirement to engage users and help them understand the benefits of services that are simultaneously developed on different layers of extended reality. The firm OliveX develops mixed sports trainings by integrating video games, blockchain technology and physical activities, to encourage people’s physical well-being. In adventure experiences, players can earn NFTs –called DOSE– by completing missions that require them to run different distances in the analog world with their smartphones in hand or by exercising on an exercise bike with sensors that monitor their performance. Virtual rewards can be used to level up and advance through the video game’s narrative or traded in NFT marketplaces.
Photo courtesy of OliveX.
The new creative and business opportunities provided by the metaverse shake up all industries and encourage disruptive thinking about work dynamics. Architectural firm BIG designed Viceverse, a virtual office building for the employees of the media company Vice Media, which is accessible from anywhere in the world. It was conceived as an innovation lab where people can meet, work and interact more freely on non-fungible tokens (NFT), Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO), Web 3.0, and other digital projects. This virtual space is located on the Decentraland platform, an open-source parallel universe where people create unique avatars to represent their physical personality and communicate with others in common environments.
Photo courtesy of BIG.
Applying artificial intelligence to create virtual clones of people and make them interact in various circumstances continues to be perfected, and its use is becoming more and more frequent in the entertainment world. The “Hôtel du temps” (Hotel of time) is a French television program broadcast on France 3, whose concept is to interview deceased personalities. To do so, they use “Face Engine” artificial intelligence technology, also known as “deepfake”, which allows to recreate a face from the analysis of a large number of audiovisual files of the person. To “revive” each character, such as Lady Diana, Dalida and François Mitterrand, an actor/actress plays the interviewee’s body while their face is digitally transformed. Their voice is also edited to make the answers even more believable. The production compiles authentic comments from interviews the character gave in life to reproduce them in the interview. The result is near-perfect clones that can shock the audience by blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality. In some cases, the families of those involved are informed and validate the final version of the episode.
Photo courtesy of France 3.
The aim of helping people to improve their health at any occasion enhances the crossing of disciplines and gives room to environments with multiple benefits. The Palais de Tokyo in Paris is developing the “Hamo” project, a 700 m2 pavilion designed by Freaks Architects to house wellness programs that use art as their main resource. Therapeutic activities will be offered to improve the mental health of visitors of all ages. A “Positive Room” will host meetings among artists, psychiatrists, therapists and educators. The space will also include three rotating modular structures, called “cabins”, with walls that can work as television screens or boards depending on the programmed activity. A spiral stairway and elevator will lead to a mezzanine conceived as a creative laboratory with 3D printers and new technologies. The pavilion will have space for four to six public workshops to be held simultaneously, even when there are no exhibitions running in the museum. A for the Louvre-Lens, they have partnered with therapists from L’Art&Fact, to offer a series of group workshops based on the idea that the museum experience itself can have health benefits.
Photo courtesy of Palais de Tokyo.
The normalization of psychological ailments and people’s desire to improve their well-being invite a rethinking of spaces and services. Post Service is a site dedicated to mental health, bereavement and mindfulness practices in Copenhagen. The building’s design, created by Tableau Studio, uses functional and aesthetic details that enhance and enrich the mental health of patients. Facilities include movement rooms, infrared sauna (therapeutic light) and rooms subtly painted in cool tones that blend with darker shaded ceilings. This design feature helps visitors feel connected, evoking the feeling of a warm blanket.
Photo courtesy of Tableau.
The fusion of the food industry and the art world is making steady progress with innovative experiences that surprise while making the public think. The “Social Works” installation at the Gagosian gallery in New York included a fully functioning urban farm under the title “Are we really that different?” The work, created by artist Linda Goode Bryant and architect Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, housed a 40-foot-tall growing space, with plants fed nutrients and water through a drip system. During the course of the exhibition, plants were harvested, mounted on the walls and shared with gallery guests to be eaten. The edible artwork explored themes related to food security and equity.
Photo courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The strong expansion of e-commerce and m-commerce calls for companies to use their original resources to surprise customers and reinforce the brand’s message. Obsess, an experiential e-commerce platform, enables brands to create interactive virtual showrooms and stores where consumers can shop for garments in enriched themed environments. People can also visit different fantastic settings to see specially curated collections and better understand the inspiration and meaning behind the garments. Obsess also offers “Shop with Friends”, a feature that allows users to shop in online stores together with groups of friends to enhance the retail experience with a moment of sociability.
Photo courtesy of Obsess.
Architecture is adding new resources and functionalities to improve people's lives. Playscape, a community center for children in Beijing, is designed as a sensory learning tool that nurtures exploration and play for young visitors. Conceived by We Architech Anonymous (WAA), the space connects a complex of industrial buildings through a central courtyard transformed into an undulating landscape with steel structures, colorful play areas, trampolines, and climbable mounds to access the roofs of old warehouses, creating multiple adventures in a safe environment. In the inside of buildings there are games for different ages, including hanging cloths and suspended nets.
Photo courtesy of WAA.
The wish of people to modify harmful habits without losing sense of belonging and community fosters the creation of original solutions. Sentia Spirits, created by pharmacology professor David Nutt, are non-alcoholic beverages with desinhibitory effects similar to those of traditional alcoholic beverages, which can be a health alternative for many people at times of socializing. The beverages are composed of a nootropic botanical blend that organically acts on Gaba-A receptors in the brain, which help the drinker feel comfortable and relaxed. The blend is immersed in a fruity flavor that contains notes of cardamom, blackberry and hibiscus.
Photo courtesy of Sentia Spirits.
The need to find new ways of connecting people with nature through significant experiences is increasingly relevant. Human-Cloud Project, by Filips Stanislavskis, proposes a series of tools that convert human breath into clouds. The project is based on geoengineering, or climate engineering, which strives to get involved in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change. The equipment allows an individual to artificially create his/her own personal cloud, or a group of people to share one. The first device captures breath exhaled and converts it into liquid, with a double-walled lab condenser equipped with a nozzle, that is decanted into a small glass vial. The second tool is a “cloud generator”, which is attached to a weather balloon that ascends into the sky. When it reaches an adequate height, a programmed circuit activates the atomizer which converts liquid into steam again and the pumps produce the cloud.
Photo courtesy of Filips Staņislavskis.
Educational experiences can be more effective if enriched by technology and sensory resources that can reinforce the message. Natural History Museum Alive App is an augmented reality application that presents three scenes with extinct animals in their particular habitat. With a diorama mode, exhibitions are displayed on a plain surface, where the habitat is brought to life through a 3D animation, narrated by David Attenborough. As the phone moves, you get different views of scenes including a saber-toothed tiger (Smilodon), a flying reptile (Dimorphodon) and a sea creature (Opabinia), to learn in detail about the worlds they lived in.
The project is an extension of the Natural History Museum Alive film.
Photo courtesy of Natural History Museum.
The consolidation of hybrid work routines, combining both remote and in-person instances, encourages the appearance of technological solutions that facilitate people's jobs. Mesh, a new mixed-reality platform developed by Microsoft, allows people who are in different locations to meet and share holographic experiences together. The software enables remote working teams scattered around the world to have more collaborative and dynamic meetings. Mesh can be also used for entertainment, namely: concerts, theater plays, friend meetings, and family events. At an initial stage, users are represented by an avatar in mixed reality. Later on, they can use hologram transportation to be projected just the way they are.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft.
The integration of fashion and the health and well-being universe opens the path for new creative and business opportunities. Designer Laura Deschl has developed The Healing Imprint, a therapeutic garment with a sports look, designed to help heal psychological trauma. The design integrates acupuncture, a non-invasive practice from traditional Chinese medicine, through the insertion of small massage balls in the fabric used, which can move to specific points and exert precise pressure in different parts of the body. This garment is combined with a body movement practice based on yoga to increase or decrease body weight on the acupuncture points. The kit includes a bodysuit, gloves, socks, and a pillow.
Photo courtesy of Laura Deschl.
Brands can play a positive role in helping consumers make the transition to healthier and more sustainable habits. Recipe site Epicurious stopped publishing and promoting recipes with beef as a way to combat climate change. This ingredient will no longer appear in articles and newsletters on their website or social networks. The publishers reported they have been doing this off-the-record since 2019, slowly phasing out beef and replacing it with plant-based recipes.
Accessing healthy culinary experiences in a simple and flexible manner is an increasing desire for people. Yumme is a home-made and healthy food service concept aimed at people with little time to cook. Users receive a tray with different compartments with different foods according to each one’s diet, which is designed based on their nutritional goals and personal tastes. Sensors integrated in the tray analyze the content, calories and nutrients of each meal, data that can be read via an app. Customers can share experiences and tips with other users via the interface. The kit also includes utensils and a portable case so enjoying a home-made food could be as affordable as possible.
Photo courtesy of Yumme.
The demand for goods and services that help improve people’s health is in the rise. Lunit is a concept of discrete and practical medical devices for people who need to perform health tests when they are away from home. Designers Dayeon Jang and Sungchae Park thought of providing a solution to the discomfort felt by individuals who suffer from asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, by using portable devices in public environments. The collection is comprised by four medical devices, namely: an inhaler, a blood sugar meter, an insulin syringe and a blood pressure oxymeter. The style is inspired in the dark side of the moon, to go unnoticed at first sight, with black and smoky gray tones and translucid covers that evoke a misty dawn.
Photo courtesy of Lunit.
A holistic vision of well-being, which starts by providing goods and services with multiple benefits for people, and is spreading to all industries. Hagius is a gym in Berlin offering physical and cognitive training sessions, aligned with body “biorhythms”, based on sports science. The experience is designed to provide stimuli and benefits the body requires at different times of the day. Training sessions work on the brain and the nervous system through light, scents, sounds, food, and movement. The space was designed by architects Pierre Jorge González and Judith Haase, with a minimalistic style. The flooring is made of fresno wood from the region of Havelland (Germany), combined with stainless steel and granite details, in order to create an environment free from distractions and urban noise.
Photo courtesy of González-Haase.
The physical store starts to undertake a new role within branded ecosystems. 'HAUS 0 10 10 10 1’ is the new concept by Future Retail space in Shanghai, which prioritizes a sensory experience rather than commercial functionality. On the first floor, the dessert brand Nudake displays its products among robots and kinetic art facilities with horse shapes. On the second floor, there's Gentle Monster, an optical store with a space design based on the “Circulation” concept, which includes mechanical structures, facilities and works of art that provoke both visual and auditory stimuli by offering tension and strange rhythms. The third floor includes art exhibition “The Giant Who Arrived at the Bird Village”. At its core, “The Giant” is found, a robotic face created by Gentle Monster's technology lab, together with sculptures and facilities depicting Bird Village. In the back, there is an interactive art space called “Error in the Beat”, with a big LED screen where dancers are displayed and change shapes while the audience comes close.
Photo courtesy of Gentle Monster.
Metaverse could reproduce and even motivate harmful and illegal behaviour if clear rules are not set. During the Horizon Worlds beta test, the virtual reality platform of social media company Meta (formerly Facebook), one of the testers reported that a stranger had molested her. The new metaverse experience allows for up to 20 avatars to explore and share moments together within a virtual space. According to the internal analysis Meta carried out after the incident, the woman could have used the integrated-safety tool Safe Zone, a protective bubble that users can enable when they feel threatened in order to avoid others from interacting with them. Other experts are discussing additional strategies that could be implemented in order to tackle events of harassment, such as conducting educational experiences, creating universal alert signs or sanctioning users in the metaverse. Online sexual harassment is not new. However, as part of enriched environments, where another layer of stimuli is added, this could become more widespread.
Photo courtesy of Meta.
Brands are increasingly aware that they must collaborate in educating about self-care practices to improve the lives of consumers. With the aim of raising awareness about the benefits of good sleep and, in particular, energizing naps in people's well-being, Ikea France implemented a fleet of 8 electric bicycles that towed a sleeping capsule and thus provide Parisians with the opportunity to take a nap between 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Despite the usefulness of micro moments of rest for people's health, concentration and cognitive activity, short restorative naps are not legitimized during work hours. The Ikea Nap capsules were available between August 30 and September 3, and were accessible to users who shared the news with the hashtag #lasiesteIKEA on social networks, who after confirmation were picked up by the cyclist to take a 30 min walk. The mobile space was equipped with comfortable furniture that encourages rest: mattresses, cushions, duvets and pillows.
Photo courtesy of Ikea France.
With the increase of nationalist currents in different countries, the need arises to create public strategies that encourage contact with people beyond borders. "Portal" is a public art experience that connects the cities of Vilnius, Lithuania and Lublin, Poland through a real-time video feed. The installation is a huge circular door with a video conferencing device, with a camera and a screen, through which people from the two cities can interact visually. Passersby are surprised on both sides, although many decide to initiate contact. There are few cases in which people sit down to lunch in front of the portal to share the moment with strangers on the other side, communicating through gestures. The purpose of the Benediktas Gylys Foundation, creator of the idea together with Vilnius Technical University, is to make people reconsider the sense of unity and reinforce their empathy in the difficult period that humanity lives, by establishing a digital bridge between two remote places. Other portals will be installed in different cities in the coming years.
Photo courtesy of Benediktas Gylys Foundation.
Global warming makes it increasingly necessary to design solutions to appease the negative consequences of the increase in temperature in large cities. The architecture agency Alt developed the “climatic bench” that allows you to rest on a cold object on very hot days in the city. Developed in conjunction with Climespace and "Air des carrières", the prototype was installed in the 13th district of Paris. The bench is built in smooth stone and with an elongated zigzagging shape, which allows the air to be diverted from the Parisian quarries under the surface to cool the material according to the Provençal well principle. This allows the stone to remain cold under all circumstances. The traditional technique makes use of wells more than 30 centimeters deep where there is no temperature variation, but there is a constant temperature of between 12 or 14 degrees. Through a ventilation system integrated into the bench, the public space is naturally cooled by connecting that air at 14 degrees with the surface of the city.
Photo courtesy of Alt.
New technologies make it possible to expand the work of artists to reach new audiences beyond the limits of a museum. 'Like Beauty in Flames' are three augmented reality works created by Jenny Holzer for the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The pieces are composed of provocative texts, a characteristic feature of the artist that usually invites reflection in the public sphere within a democratic and accessible way. While two of the works can be enjoyed on the specific site - since they interact with the architecture of the building - the third one is accessible from anywhere in the world. This one allows users to see how Holzer's phrases take shape in space within any setting or city. A format consistent with the spirit that has inspired the artist's practice throughout her career, who has placed language in the public domain to awaken reflection and contemplation. At the museum, an AR version of an LED sign takes over the central atrium with topics in English, Spanish, Basque and French. Each of the three floors of the museum offers a different experience, as the interaction of the LED with the architecture of the building changes depending on one's point of view.
Photo courtesy of Guggenheim.
Strategies that allow people to reconnect with others in a playful way are increasingly necessary. The challenge is to rediscover the city as a social scene. Japanese music artist and designer Yuri Suzuki has created 'Sonic Bloom', a public, interactive and multisensory installation that explores the nature of communication through sound and invites Londoners to reconnect with other people and interact with their surroundings after one year of isolation. Located in the gardens of Brown Hart, the installation is composed of a large colorful sculpture that refers to a flower that unfolds in multiple stems, with horns formed at the end of them that serve to capture sound while transmitting it to visitors. The system amplifies the sounds absorbed from the environment and carries people's voices through its stems. Participants can listen on one side and speak on the other while respecting social distancing. Suzuki conceived the work to capture three audible themes: people, nature and the surrounding environment to combine them in an exploration of universal communication. "Our goal is to foster connections with friends and strangers by creating serendipitous audible moments that create a sense of community, shared creative ground, and sociability," says Suzuki.
Photo courtesy of Yuri Suzuki.
The demand for new sensations encourages people to find resources that stimulate the senses and imagination to experience familiar scenarios in different ways. The Authos.ch studio, in collaboration with the designer Stella Speziali, presented 'Nebulosus', an immersive spatial intervention at the 2021 Design Biennale Zürich. The interactive installation combines fog with augmented reality to form an ephemeral and intangible environment that redefines the space. Located in the old botanical garden in the center of Zurich, the mist gently floats over 50 square meters of lush greenery. The experience for each visitor will depend on the weather and climatic conditions: during the day, soft clouds of steam are in constant movement, while, in the last hours of the day, space is transformed into a digital phenomenon. When it is dark, a projection mapping enhances the untouchable essence of the haze, while an array of glowing lines and angles reacts to visitors' movements.
Photo courtesy of The Authos.ch.
The desire to introduce nature into the home with the aim of improving people's daily lives provokes new dialogues between biology, design and technology. At Milan Design Week 2021, Aran Cucine exhibited his "Oasi" kitchen cabinet created in collaboration with Stefano Boeri Architetti. Designed to bring together wellness, sustainability and coexistance, Oasi is a self-contained unit that contains everything you need for a satisfying dining experience: storage cabinets, cooking and washing appliances, and even an extendable dining table. However, the main feature of the furniture is the tree that is in its center. An irrigation system is built into the multifunctional kitchen unit, as well as a dedicated compost area to help fertilize the plant. According to the brand, the tree will be a meeting point to grow, as its branches will accompany the dynamism of people as they grow together at home.
Photo courtesy of Aran Cucine.
The concept of well-being permeates all creative disciplines by provoking reflections on how to improve emotional states through art and design. Richard Yasmine's 'Il viso del mondo' project explores the power of the face and its importance as the greatest human organ of emotion. The installation is comprised of large face sculptures made of high-gloss coated stainless steel to create highly reflective surfaces, with hair made from synthetic fibers. Intended as a form of therapy, faces reflect everything around them, even the viewer who moves nearby and can observe their own reflection as an interactive experience. Yasmine states: "Our 'faces' are extraordinary social instruments, dynamic canvases or communication screens on which emotions are drawn intensely. Eventually, with this approach, we urge the mind to regenerate self-confidence along with its soul, ego and cognitive behavior ". The installation took place during Milan Design Week 2021.
Photo courtesy of Richard Yasmine.
Greater awareness of the impact that environmental conditions have on people and objects over time encourages further experimentation in design. The firm Stone Island presented the installation ‘Prototype Research _Series 05’, with the partial results of a textile investigation with nanotechnology that it is carrying out. The exhibition included prototypes of jackets made with a 'satin' cotton gabardine, covered with a copper nanometric film using the PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) technique. The objective of the project is to investigate the natural oxidation characteristics of copper in the atmospheric environment, borrowing this technique from industrial use. The speed and intensity of the process will depend on the environmental conditions to which the garment will be exposed, mainly the degree of humidity and the percentage of carbon dioxide. These wear factors will print textile surfaces with different and unique finishes. The brand wants to reflect on the passage of time in objects and their relationship with the environment in which they live. The installation was presented during Milan Design Week 2021
Photo courtesy of Stone Island.
Sara Ricciardi, specialized in relational design, presented during Milan Design Week 2021, the traveling performance "Urban Trader's Revolution", inspired by the figure of the street vendor. It celebrates life on the street, physical contact, the relationship between people and between these and the space. A car driven by the drag artists Karma B, wandered through the 5vie district, with music and stories like an old trinket shop and proposals to rediscover important urban relationships. Ricciardi says: “Let's celebrate the diversity of our expressions! Everyone sells their personality both in the present of social media and in the future reality of their daily life. The masks are also our truest options”. The performance is a proposal to meet again in the city after a period in which we have been deprived of physical contact.
Photo courtesy of Sara Ricciardi.
Alternative ways of living and conceiving spaces privilege the connection with nature. The exhibition 'Life' by Olafur Eliasson, at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, ponders life from a biocentric perspective, away from the traditional human-centered view. The exhibition intertwines the museum space (which becomes an open space), the surrounding park, the urban landscape and nature, to erase the structural boundaries between the inside and the outside, the cultural and the environment. With the building's glass facade removed - thanks to the task of architect Renzo Piano - people can walk on the dark wooden walkways that extend over a continuous pond that begins in the garden and enters the gallery that houses a variety of vegetation and microorganisms. According to Eliasson, "through the smells of plants and water, the sounds of the surroundings, the humidity in the air, visitors are always invited to use more than just vision to explore the artwork." Visitors can tour the exhibit at any time as it is open day and night and there are no doors or windows to impede entry. However, the way it is experienced changes substantially: water appears bright green in daylight and fluorescent at night, an effect achieved by a combination of ultraviolet light and a fluorescent dye in water, known as uranine.
Photo courtesy of Olafur Eliasson, Fondation Beyeler.
Biology, technology and architecture find new ways of coexistence and interaction. ‘Magic Queen [from the series Artificial Ecologies]’ is the installation presented by the Maeid studio during the 2021 Biennale di Architettura di Venezia. The experience takes place in a hybrid environment incorporating and fusing biological systems with organic materials and machines, creating an ecosystem of empathy and coexistence. It explores the relationship among natural elements, technology, and living systems favoring the creation of an ecology of non-human subjects. It is a built habitat that can restore and nurture itself, redefining the role of living systems in architecture.It is a performative 3D-printed soil robotic garden. Sensors respond and machine learning creates continuous feedback among sensing, virtualizing, and induced change. Its inhabitable space combines visual, auditory, olfactory, and haptic features into a total interconnectivity. Fungal flora and soil structure depend on the robot to nurture them; the robot relies on their vital existence to move. The interconnectivity and performativity of all elements generates ambient sound, and a visual interface uncovers the otherwise invisible stream of impact and growth.
Photo courtesy of Zita Oberwalder, Maeid.
Unprecedented resources are currently used to touch the senses of the public and provoke moments of escape. Created by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, in collaboration with the brand OPPO, the multi-sensory installation “Bamboo (竹) Ring: || Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form ”, fuses architecture with design, music and technological advances. The sculpture 'woven' with bamboo fiber and carbon fiber is a musical instrument, as the melodies travel through the material thanks to structural sound technologies. The orchestral scores composed by the Japanese violinist Midori Komachi, are based on the cycle of the seasons and the music moves through the structure, encouraging the audience to walk and let themselves be captured by its sonic narrative. The experience mixes the violin with comforting sounds of nature and the city to relax the mind. These sounds are taken from places around the world, including Reykjavik, Beijing and Tokyo, from OPPO's digital wellness app, called O Relax. The installation was exhibited in the Cortile dei Bagni garden, during Milan Design Week 2021.
Photo courtesy of Oppo.
Alternative visions around what can be considered beautiful emerge in this time of paradigm shift. Artist Lizan Freijsen explores an alternative concept of beauty by taking traditionally unpleasant elements to turn them into valuables. The 'Decay on Demand' project uses fungi, mold and damp stains, which appear in everyday environments, as a source of inspiration to create decorative papers, tapestries and rugs. According to Freijsem, embracing imperfection is in fact a response to the over-controlled society in which we live. For the production of the textile pieces, she collaborates with the Tilburg Textile Museum. Her works were exhibited in the exhibition “Masterly, The Dutch in Milano”, at Palazzo Francesco Turati, during Milan Design Week 2021.
Photo courtesy of Lizan Freijsen.
The fashion industry is looking for new ways to present its collections and engage its audience in new sensory experiences. Artist Doug Aitken designed Green Lens, a 'living' artwork made of plants and aluminum foil, for the Saint Laurent Spring Summer 2021 Menswear Show in Venice. Located on the Venetian island of Certosa, the 10-pointed kaleidoscopic pavilion was covered in lush vegetation, the result of a finicky botanical design, creating infinite reflections on the reflective material and blurring the boundaries between inside and outside. Music composed of sounds of nature recorded on the island, completed the experience. Conceived as an inclusive work, after the parade the installation remained open until the end of July, so the public could enjoy it.
[Ph: Saint Laurent]
The squares and parks incorporate new proposals to encourage fun and outdoor meetings in a post-Covid19 scenario. The Airship Orchestra installation, designed by the art and technology company Eness, consists of 20 inflatable characters (some up to six meters) that are installed in public spaces. They emit sound and change color, immersing participants in an interactive, sensory and hypnotic experience. Each creature performs an original voice from the choir as its blinking LED eyes follow visitors as they pass through the space. People are stimulated through regenerative sound and the rhythmic pulsation of light.
The Nordic pavilion in La Biennale di Venezia 2021 presents the exhibition What We Share: A Model for Co-living based on the question ‘What are you willing to share with others?’. The studio Helen & Hard invited a group of people to work with the architects to develop a cohousing project with a number of shared functions. All the residents were asked how much they were willing to share with their neighbours. The installation shows how collaboration and spatial design can create both a community and a sustainable living environment. The exhibition is made with an innovative building system consisting of elements in solid wood that are connected by dowels (wooden plugs) that can be used to build walls, floor dividers and furniture. The advantage of this system compared with glued solid wooden boards is that no glue is used, which makes it more environmentally friendly. In addition, the system is flexible: because the elements are small and manageable, you can build it yourself and make alterations later.
[Ph: La Biennale]
The British Pavilion in La Biennale di Venezia 2021 explores the privatisation of public space in the UK today, and considers the role that design and architecture can take in supporting a more inclusive future. Five teams of architects, designers and researchers propose new ideas for ownership of, and access to, privatised public space – from the pub to the playground, the high street to facial recognition technology. Each room within the pavilion presents through an immersive installation, designed to engage people in the debate. The room ‘Ministry of Collective Data’ designed by Built Works explores if we can rethink facial recognition technology and free our collective data for public benefit. On entering the room, visitors are presented with two options: 'Walk right and surrender your data' or 'Walk left and conceal yourself for the sake of personal anonymity.' If they choose to walk right, they give express consent to share their data and participate as a citizen in the digital city. The room will record the visitor's mood, behaviour and biometric information, and display a unique interactive avatar – born from visitor's data– to exist in a digital public space. If the visitor chooses to walk left, their data and identity will be concealed. Built Works proposes a new public digital space with fair, transparent and consent-based systems.
[Ph: La Biennale]
The Finnish brand Circulove, is based on the philosophy of holistic wellness and circular design, to develop bioactive personal care products that enhance the innate properties of the skin. The company was founded by a group of designers, chemists, estheticians and nurses committed to a sustainable lifestyle. The formulas are made with a combination of plant-based, vegan, and nutrient-dense ingredients to protect your skin's microbiome, such as oatmeal and willow bark. The laboratory uses slow processing technology to ferment the ingredients during three to five weeks, avoiding the need to add other actives, which improves skin absorption. Approximately 85% of the ingredients are from Finland, organically grown or wild, to ensure purity and clean traceability.
Identité is a cosmetics subscription concept devised by the Seymourpowell studio, which selects the best products for the user through an app equipped with A.I. and provided with personal data. The system analyzes the activities, exercise patterns, diet and travel of the person, in addition to other elements such as urban environmental factors and fashion styles, to design the best combination of ingredients and actives. The user receives a set of different cosmetics to be used in each situation, such as a vacation in a particular destination or to live and work in their city. The formulas are contained in a sheet of single-use biodegradable modules that include sunscreens, creams, serums and supplements suitable for the skin. The personalized service automatically sends a package with everything you need for the next week.
Ninu Perfume is a device that allows the user to design their own perfumes or after-shave lotions, through an application, providing a personalized experience and dispensing with packaging. The small aluminum tube contains three different essential oil cartridges that the person can mix, with the possibility of making more than a million different scent combinations. The app uses artificial intelligence, with a virtual assistant, a 'master perfumer' named Pierre, who suggests blends of perfumes according to personality and warns when recyclable cartridges are running low. The aromas can be combined and programmed remotely, it is also possible to select the intensity of the fragrance. The created formulas can be stored and even shared if another user had the device. The product is 100% vegan and the fragrances are free of phthalates, parabens and sulfates.
The demand for air purifiers grows as information about the actual pollution in cities and its negative effects on health increases. The COVID-19 pandemic has also generated increased attention to the quality of environmental conditions around people. Self-care skin routines could benefit from healthier environments. The Skin Authority brand DefenderPRO air filtration device removes harmful ultrafine chemical particles (.1 microns) from indoor cleaners, perfumes, kitchen smoke, diffusers, candles and hairspray. Studies show that these particles not only cause serious illness, but also lead to skin problems such as pimples, psoriasis, hyperpigmentation, and dermatitis. "Beautifying" the environmental conditions of private spaces could be a new type of solutions to be developed in the cosmetics and personal care industry.
The food and beverage industry is testing new strategies to provide more information on the traceability of products, in order to facilitate sustainable consumers’ decisions. The brand of food recipes boxes Gousto, will test the carbon labeling on their meals. It will give customers the option to exchange ingredients with less carbon footprint before placing an order. A selection of 50 recipes will show the total CO2 impact of the meals and allow subscribers to choose more environmentally conscious dish options. The company will also introduce more seasonality to its menus, focusing on ingredients that require less energy in their production to minimize carbon emissions. Food brands such as Quorn, Oatly and Upfield have already chosen to clearly display the carbon footprint of their individual products on packaging.
Berlin-based studio Look Labs and Canadian artist Sean Caruso collaborated to create a digital fragrance that reflects the physical unisex perfume "Cyber Eau de Parfum". The record of molecular wavelengths, based on the analog aroma, is encoded and backed by a non-fungible token (NFT), a blockchain that can be acquired as a piece of digital art. To create the product, the study used near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), a method that measures the molecular vibrations of physical objects and allowed to extract the wavelengths of the perfume, the bottle and the label. According to the creators, in the near future a device equipped with A.I. could decode those molecular reflections of the aroma to reproduce it in reality. People can purchase both digital and analog perfume.
[Ph: Look Labs]
The world of hospitality is transformed because of changes in post-pandemic work dynamics, which have reduced business travel in favor of virtual meetings and conferences. The Accord group wants to transform its accommodation offer into a Flex Office platform (flexible office), which allows to provide workspaces around the world, with all the necessary comforts and technologies so that travelers can do home working but changing location. The goal is to also integrate local spaces such as departments, bars and museums to provide an authentic experience in each city.
The digital universe creates different ways to evoke loved ones who have already passed away. In response to a message from the @fesshole account on Twitter, where a user mentioned that Google Street View allowed him to see his father still alive in the images and how this helped him reduce the pain of the loss, people began to share different experiences. "My adorable father who died in 2013 (is) still on Google Maps," wrote a woman next to the photo of her father leaning out of a window watching the company vehicle that took the photographs go by. The application allows you to view previous versions by touching the clock icon in the upper left, which makes it possible for people to find their loved ones in images recorded in past years.
To collaborate in the fight against the extinction of certain popular traditions, Google Arts & Culture introduced a new application called Woolaroo. The interface, that uses Cloud Vision and Machine Learning, recognizes the objects focused with the smartphone camera to inform its name in 10 native languages, with references to its correct pronunciation so users can practice it. For example, thanks to the collaboration with the ‘Cademia Siciliana’, the app contains a database to learn words from the Sicilian dialect of southern Italy. Other languages also available are Louisiana Creole, Calabrian Greek, Maori, Nawat, Tamazight, Yang Zhuang, Rapa Nui, Yiddish and Yugambeh. Users have the possibility to add and edit the content to update the material if they speak any of the languages.
The food industry is making an accelerated transition to a plant-based product offering in its quest to find sustainable production systems. New flavors, textures and nutritional properties of the plants are being explored to find original and healthy food. Wildgood, a Greek artisan ice cream factory, has launched a new brand of non-dairy frozen desserts developed from extra-virgin olive oil combined with other ingredients such as chocolate, vanilla, coffee, mango and pistachio. The products are vegan and gluten-free, have a creamy texture and are low in saturated fat, without a trace of olive oil flavor. The brand uses olives pressed in the old groves of its family in Greece, which gives the desserts a Mediterranean flair.
Architecture is taking great strides in its quest to better integrate into the natural environment and play a positive role in the midst of the climate change crisis. The Australian architecture studio Koichi Takada has designed the Sunflower House project, a residential building inspired by nature and, in particular, sunflowers, which allows living in a more sustainable and green way. The complex incorporates the concept of living and kinetic architecture that allows respecting the environment while improving the well-being of the human beings that inhabit it. The Sunflower House has been conceived to be installed in the Italian region of Umbria, famous for its agricultural lands and fields of sunflowers, where heat waves are increasingly frequent and extreme. Therefore, the architects decided to place a roof of solar panels on a circular structure that rotates using sensors for maximum exposure to the sun, as if it were a sunflower. In addition, the structure intervenes as little as possible in the soil so that the farmland is not affected by the rest of the activities and thus reduce the environmental impact. Each floor houses a two- or three-bedroom apartment, and each building has up to three floors. The shape of the building follows nature, blending in with it and creating a sustainable home.
The fashion industry continues to explore different possibilities that allow to align the consumption of non-essential products with the sustainability values adopted by an increasingly wide public. The search for alternatives to natural leather - whose production is responsible for a considerable CO2 footprint - encourages the exploration of new materials in the leather goods sector. The Swiss brand Bally has presented the "B-Echo" collection composed of ecological accessories that includes multifunctional bags and backpacks made of regenerated leather, reused polyethylene perephthalate (plastic) and recycled nylon. The latter has the Global Recycle Standard seal of approval and is made from pre-consumed nylon fibers and leftovers from the manufacturing process. The materials developed allow to lighten the products and make them water repellent.
The technical advances of Artificial Intelligence applied to reproduce the image and voice of a person (deepfakes) and the increase in the use of this resource for communicational purposes raise new ethical problems. In January 2021, the Spanish beer brand Cruzcampo launched an advertising campaign starring a deepfake of the singer Lola Flores, who died in 1995, narrating and encouraging a return to local roots. The exact reproduction of the vocal, gestural and physical characteristics of the artist - which had the consent of the family - has amazed and puzzled the public in equal parts. Resurrecting deceased characters or displaying living personalities by performing unprecedented actions thanks to AI montage is a magnificent creative resource but, at the same time, it raises an alert about the ability to deceive audiences with broad social consequences. Fake pornographic videos starring famous actresses such as Gal Gadot or Scarlett Johanson or doctored speeches by politicians, such as Obama calling Trump “inept”, are examples of the sophisticated manipulation that can be carried out by challenging the concept of truth and sowing confusion in the public debate.
Conversion of food waste into a new material that is able to generate clean energy from UV light is gathering acknowledgements from the scientific community as it maximizes the amount of energy produced and could set a new milestone in the research for renewable energy sources. AuReus takes its name from the aurora borealis and is inspired by the physics that power the northern lights. Engineering student Carvey Ehren Maigue, who developed it, says that unlike traditional solar panels, which only work in clear conditions and must face the sun directly because they rely on visible light, the translucent AuReus material is able to harvest power from invisible UV rays even when it’s cloudy. As a consequence, the material can produce energy close to 50 per cent of the time according to preliminary testing, compared to 15 to 22% in standard solar panels. The material can be applied as a kind of fluorescent covering to windows or facades, capturing UV rays bouncing off of pavements and the surrounding architecture, converting entire buildings into vertical solar farms.
Increasingly, hospitality experiences are designed to help guests connect with nature as its therapeutic properties have been widely recognized. The idea is to seamlessly integrate hotels with natural landscapes for guests to enjoy the pristine beauty and the tranquility of nature. Sharaan is a underground concept hotel designed by French architect Jean Nouvel that is due for completion in 2024. The resort will be built into sandstone cliffs in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla desert without compromising its history, heritage and landscape. As Jean Nouvel said, “our project should not jeopardize what humanity and time have consecrated”.
More and more brands are joining the race to be the first in their category to launch new products, services, and experiences in outer space, by many deemed to be the new market to conquer. NASA and Nokia have recently announced a new partnership to install a 4G network on the moon. While initially the project aims to improve data transmission to help astronauts control lunar rovers, navigate lunar geography in real time and stream videos, its ultimate goal – according to Bells Labs, Nokia’s research arm - is to “validate the potential for human habitation on the moon”. According to the Wall Street Journal, the overall revenue from space-related cloud services could total around $15 billion by 2030.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues on government’s agendas and needs to be tackled with the same attention as the Covid19 pandemic. A shocking fact: by 2050, Arctic ice is expected to have shrunk by 30 per cent. A newspaper from Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, has created a typeface to spread awareness on the urgency of climate change. While regular fonts have certain pre-determined styles like bold or italic, the Climate Crisis Font allows users to adjust its font weight with the help of a sliding timescale. The timescale starts at 1979, when satellite measurements of the Arctic ice began. At that point in time, the font looks very heavy and bold. As the cursor slides to the right, the font shrinks and becomes thinner as if it were melting ice.
Designers that push the boundaries and challenge the status quo by tackling sometimes morally challenging topics have the potential to be truly innovative. It is the case of a designer from Iceland, Valdís Steinarsdóttir, who has been working on two recycling projects one called Just Bones, that takes grand animal bones and turns them into containers, and another called Bioplastic Skin, that takes animal skin and tranforms it into packaging for meat. The advantage, apart from getting rid of waste, is that the both materials are completely biocompostable and dissolve within weeks.
In an effort to simplify life and reduce the time we take to prepare to face daily challenges, brands are designing products and services which relieve us of effort and save us time. Nike has launched the laceless Nike GO FlyEase trainers, which relieve the wearer from having to use their hands when putting on shoes with laces. The shoe is made of two sections connected by a hinge that allows users to put them on and take them off without tying shoelaces or using another fastening. The hinge is a large rubber band – called a midsole tensioner by Nike – that allows the shoe to be secure in both an open position for the foot to enter and a closed position for when the sportshoes are in use.
The past 2-3 years have seen an ongoing shift in architecture and the technology industry towards more organic, human-centric designs. The car industry has been following suit, with the development of biophilic and biological cars that could become the new standard for luxury cars in the future. Mercedes-Benz unveiled Vision AVTR, an avatar-inspired concept car that is meant to feel more like a living creature than an automobile. Mercedes-Benz Chief design officer Gordon Wagener said “We didn’t want to create a car, we wanted to create something like a living organism that blends harmoniously into its environment and communicates with it”. The car includes a series of features inspired by nature. First, it looks like a reptile that has sideways mobility. The interiors make use of sustainable and recycled materials, with colors that evoke the sea. The car is driven intuitively and with gestural controls, such as palm-powered startup and biometric measurement, as if the car were an extension of the human body.
The conception of the living space will change in the post-COVID19 era by meeting the new needs of people in a context of permanent crisis. The Spanish architect Vicente Guallart has designed a housing complex called “the self-sufficient city” for the Xiong'an urban area, 100 kilometers from Beijing, China. The project consists of four blocks where people can live, work and rest just by moving within the complex. This makes it possible that in times of health, energy or food crises an adequate response can be given from the environment of the house, through confinements of varying degrees. The buildings of the complex will be built with wood following the principles of the new circular bioeconomy, and will house a variety of housing spaces, residences for young and old people, offices, a public swimming pool, shops, a market, a nursery, an administrative center and a fire station. The micro city is designed to produce food for daily consumption from greenhouses, clean energy with the help of solar panels on the roofs, and objects for daily use thanks to a mini digital industrial facility equipped with 3D printers located on the ground floors.
Recent social activism is shaping a new paradigm of values that guide society and the market. Within the entertainment industry, Disney has decided to play a positive role in encouraging diversity and representation through its content. In old animated films, it is very common to find stereotypes and prejudices that were common at the time they were made. That is why the Disney Plus platform has decided to eliminate the Peter Pan (1953), Dumbo (1941) and The Aristocats (1970) films from the profiles used by young children for having racist representations through some of their characters. To encourage current dialogue around these topics, the films are still available to the rest of the adult audience with a warning at the beginning of their reproduction, as, for example, in the case of Peter Pan “The film portrays Native people in a stereotypical manner that reflects neither the diversity of Native peoples nor their authentic cultural traditions. It shows them speaking in an unintelligible language and repeatedly refers to them as 'redskins,' an offensive term. Peter and the Lost Boys engage in dancing, wearing headdresses and other exaggerated tropes, a form of mockery and appropriation of Native peoples' culture and imagery."
The fusion of technology and biology is one of the most promising fields in terms of innovation for household products. CleanAirZone Company introduced a bio-based air purifier that uses "natural biotics and enzymes derived from nature" instead of traditional filters. The device is effective in removing contaminants from a combination of water, microbiotics, and natural enzymes. According to the company, the green and clean technology uses the BioCAZ solution to capture and neutralize a variety of indoor air pollutants, including eliminating coronaviruses, including COVID-19, and an extensive list of viruses. The system produces no waste or harmful by-products in the process, helping to reduce household waste by operating efficiently.
A recent study by the World Economic Forum found that the rising demand in ecommerce will lead to 36% more delivery vehicles in the world’s top 100 cities by 2030, with last-mile delivery expected to grow by 78%. To prepare for the new challenges, General Motors (GM) launched its new electric delivery business unit, BrightDrop. Its objective is to make commercial delivery services sustainable with its all-new electric vehicles. Delivery companies such as FedEx Express have tested BrightDrop’s delivery fleet and are likely to become their first customer when the vehicles officially launch towards the end of 2021.
An urgent task for brands in the COVID19 crisis is assigning new meanings to new health habits that modify the shopping experience. Uniqlo has launched a global campaign for its Heattech functional underwear model. The "ThermoArt" campaign is a real-time digital art experience that transforms thermography into a new form of dynamic expression. Since body temperature is an early detection measure for COVID-19, thermographic images now universally evoke gloomy and negative feelings. Using this information, the team decided to use human body temperature in real time to create content that warms the mind and body. Artists such as interactive designer and programmer Daito Manabe, visual artist Raven Kwok, and singer, songwriter, and music producer Akini Jing collaborated on the campaign.
The James Beard Foundation announced a new grant initiative for Black and Indigenous owned food and drink businesses. It is part of the Open For Good campaign to help rebuild the independent restaurant industry: more equitable, sustainable and resilient post-pandemic. Generation-old family recipes are being rediscovered and brought to the public by Mariah Gladstone in Indigikitchen, an online cooking show dedicated to re-indigenizing diets using digital media. Using foods native to their Americas, Indigikitchen gives viewers the important tools they need to find and prepare food that strengthens the ties to local cultures and reminds us of the inherent worth of identity while fueling the physical body.
Chidren have been particularly hit by the consequences of lockdowns, isolation and online didactic. A recent study in China (JAMA Ophthalmology) estimates that nearsightedness among children ages 6 to 8 increased somewhere between 40% and 300% as they shifted to online learning and hours of screen time during the quarantine. In the US, children missed 9 million vaccinations last year (Blue Cross Blue Shield). It is now estimated that American children below 10 have fallen so far behind on their shots that they no longer have community protection against serious diseases like measles and pertussis. Another study about children under lockdown in Italy (University of Buffalo) discovered that that they slept more, moved less, and spent nearly 5 more hours a day on screens, eating more red meat, sugary carbs, and junk food while they did it. Federal surveys (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggest 40% of Americans are struggling with mental health and substance abuse problems. Young people have been particularly hard hit: 1 in 4 recently said they’d thought about killing themselves within the last 30 days.
Public furniture is offering design-driven social distancing measures that maintain safety without sacrificing community. With the current state of panic and uncertainty, public spaces are often resorting to awkward quick fixes that make people feel safe without much regard for long-term practicality. Object Studio from Amsterdam has created a bench for Amsterdam parks that allow people to sit together and, therefore, socialize while maintaining the distance dictated by all Covid19 prevention protocols (1.5m). The bench, called CoronaCrisisKruk, is made from CNC-milled birch plywood pieces that slot and screw together. Its light weight ensures its portability. Several museums and parks have already placed orders.
Web cameras on and closed gyms are two key elements of the pandemic that are driving a boom in the sector of aesthetic medicine, especially among men. In Italy, ISTAT reports that in the last year the men to undergo aesthetic treatments have grown by 20-30%, a figure confirmed by the Observatory of Aesthetic Medicine (drawn up by the scientific society Agorà), which indicates a + 30.3%. In particular, the lockdown has encouraged men in the age group between 45 and 60 years to want to retouch the face first, using botox (63%), hyaluronic acid fillers (43%) and revitalizing cocktails (37%). According to the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, however, the most requested interventions on the surgeon's couch are gynecomastia, or the remodeling of the male mammary gland, followed by liposuction and blepharoplasty.
Artists from around the world create new iconographies that shape a new cultural paradigm that better expresses the contrasts of the 21st century. Fabio Viale, is a young Italian sculptor who reinvents classic marble sculptures by fusing them with contemporary urban codes, such as tattoos. His work mixes the sacred with the profane in an attempt to redefine history. Arms and backs of ancient figures carved in marble - such as Venus de Milo or Laocoon - are impregnated with drawings associated with the criminal and prison universe. The artist does not paint the marble but infuses the surface with colors and patterns in a manner similar to tattooing a human body with ink. To perfect the technique, he has worked with chemical experts, achieving a hyper-realistic work that disorients the viewer's perceptions.
Despite many people’s desire, travel has been put on hold for a while and this is causing a clear shift in the way people think about where to go and what to do there in future. It’s significative that, at the Reuters Next Virtual Forum in January, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said “Mass travel is going to be replaced by meaningful travel…and I think this is a semipermanent shift.” A report by the same company states that people are looking forward to traveling again but the reasons for doing it will change: most people will want to travel to see friends and family, antidote to isolation and disconnection, but also a way towards personal growth, introspection and wellbeing (travelling as a form of therapy).
Fashion is rapidly testing new formats to show collections and create bonds with its audience, through original online experiences. Gucci, presented a virtual and interactive playful universe called Collina Land, to raise awareness about climate change and promote ecological activities. Designed together with the artist Hillary Taymour, and the fashion brand Collina Strada, the video game stars 12 models who assume the roles of avatars, thanks to the 3D scanning technique. Players explore a fantastic landscape, plant trees and feed virtual animals, to encourage reflection on the notions of change, growth and community. The clothes worn by the avatars can also be worn in real life.
Every year Ikea launches a limited collection of rugs designed by contemporary artists. In 2019, it featured eight designs from creatives like Virgil Abloh and Misaki Kawai. To avoid the mistakes of previous releases, when opportunists bought carpets in quantity to resell them on eBay at higher prices, Ikea created “Ikea (He) art Scanner”. The experience, developed in Belgium, was designed to detect those consumers who had a “love at first sight” with the products. Those interested were able to see the rugs on display at an Ikea store in Anderlecht. Each was given a helmet equipped with an EEG device, which detected electrical activity in the brain, adapted to an algorithm to measure beta and gamma brain waves, the body's electrical responses and heart rate in real time. As customers viewed each mat, the algorithm converted their EEG device data into a score that determined whether they were eligible to purchase it. Displayed as a percentage, the rating was projected on the wall next to each carpet; a low percentage indicated a lack of genuine interest and made the rug unavailable for purchase, while customers with a high percentage were able to purchase the item.
The world of video games is expanding beyond the stereotypes that were generally thought of. The political component enters this field to find the young public that spends much of their daily time online, even more in times of pandemic. Build the Vote, was an experience created in Minecraft, for young Americans to participate in the presidential voting process. The result of a collaboration between Sid Lee and the non-profit organization Rock the Vote, the face-to-face voting mechanism was recreated as faithfully as possible: a polling place that evoked the Capitol, which participants walked into, a registration instance and, later, the solo entrance to the voting room. With the intention of making the experience nonpartisan, the players did not vote on the actual candidates, but on issues related to the topics that were addressed in the debates, such as criminal justice, immigration and socio-political reforms. Each vote was collected anonymously and the results were posted online before October 30. For their time, players were rewarded with skins, as well as the "I voted" stickers, which were distributed at the polling places.
With the proliferation of working from home, people demand new solutions that allow them to manage and look better in endless online sessions. L'Oreal introduced “Signature faces”, an augmented reality tool that virtually adds makeup to the face during a video conference. The interface allows to use 10 products with different styles. It is compatible with Snapchat, Instagram, Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts, among others. In 2018, the brand had already launched an app to test makeup with AR, but now it has decided to advance the line of virtual cosmetics.
People demand better virtual communication experiences, after a first period of using basic videoconferencing platforms, driven by the quarantine caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. New technologies allow enriching the way of transmitting verbal and non-verbal language to improve online work and learning. The PORTL company is changing virtual interaction through holographic communication. Postmortem performance via a hologram of Tupac Shakur at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival inspired the company to create the Epic HoloPortl machine. It is a device the size of a phone booth that promises to transmit live holograms. The machine uses stretched, transparent 4K LCD screens, built into the light box, giving the impression of a 3D hologram. The company is working on a reduced and more accessible version of the device, aimed at home use, that would be the size of a desktop computer.
Older people always consider how accessible a product is when deciding on a purchase. The lack of mobility and social isolation are problems that can be solved with the assistance of technology, helping to simplify decision-making. Lifepod has developed voice-activated interfaces that help older adults organize their day. Caregivers can program the 'pod' to create personalized routines, set reminders, and schedule general entertainment that provides well-being for patients. It also helps reduce feelings of loneliness by creating a stable social connection that is easily activated by your voice.
Disney announced a new “metaverse” theme park called ‘Windows to the Wild’, where the physical and digital worlds will converge. Wearables, smartphones and digital hotspots will immerse visitors in magical experiences with animals from Animal Kingdom, recreated in AR. Simultaneously, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway: Adventure Kit, an interactive home-use AR experience based on a Disney park attraction at Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, was launched. Available to play for free through the DisneyNow app, the kids' experience lets you control three iconic Disney characters - Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy Goof - as they drive through three vintage-styled augmented environments, customizable with a variety of cars, buildings and accessories.
Short-circuiting the brain through shocking images seems to have become the only way to capture the public's attention in a chaotic virtual and analog context. Clemence Grouin-Rigaux, creates and manufactures everyday furniture from an unusual material: waste collected from slaughterhouses. Pigs' blood, bones, fat, skin, hair and urine are treated and recycled to form tables, stools and chairs. The designer considers that it is time to make visible and reflect on the waste from the meat industry that has negative consequences for the environment. Every year more than 60 billion animals are slaughtered worldwide for food, with one billion farm animals in Great Britain alone (United Kingdom Slaughter Statistics-2019). Through her collection of everyday functional objects ‘Hidden Beauty’, the designer seeks to change the perception that waste can be useful to create novel and beautiful furniture.
Building forward-looking scenarios is a useful exercise in visualizing what's to come and helping companies prepare for the future. For example, the effects of climate change could be dramatic if action is not taken now. By imagining the worst possible scenario where there would be food shortages due to extreme environmental conditions, Israeli designer Meydan Levy created "Neo Fruit." These are five edible artificial fruits, which contain a cocktail of vitamins and minerals. Fake fruits have soft skins 3D-printed from translucent cellulose, an organic compound that gives plants their structure, injected with colors and flavors to make them tasty.
The recent Black Lives Matter movement has brought with it a harsh criticism of colonization and a rejection of the symbols and icons linked to it. The movement has unleashed a redefinition of a less Western-centric and white culture perspective, to move towards a more inclusive view of the world. Indian architect Bijoy Jain, proposes to move away from Anglocentric and European standards and canons in architecture, in an effort towards decolonization. His work celebrates the pre-colonial era of India, valuing the country's traditional masonry and crafts with the aim of creating a new architectural language that represents the local culture.
Recent youth activism finds new forms of expression and provokes symbolic appropriations in the artistic field that break with the status quo. French artist Clément Poplineau has developed a provocative language in painting by transposing codes from one era to another to represent current social inequality. Notions of oppression, power, police violence, political revolt and class struggle are present in his works. He takes as protagonists the young people of the French working and popular class to portray them with resources of classical painting. It uses elements of the Renaissance, originally intended to immortalize the rich and noble. In his paintings, highlighted themes, scenes and messages are not usually represented or accepted in traditional ethics.
Brands will find new forms of expression and connection with their audience thanks to the exponential growth of mixed reality (XR) applications and haptic devices. Ultraleap has developed a virtual "touch" through an innovative haptic technology, which uses ultrasound waves to create tactile sensations in the air. The three-dimensional shapes and textures can be felt more than seen. This will allow applying haptic layers to virtual objects, developing immersive holographic interfaces and increasing gesture control with natural tactile feedback. The integration of the digital, virtual and analog layers will be a fact in the near future.
In increasingly polarized societies, negative emotions such as fear and anger gain ground in front of others. Neuroscience tells us that all humans are intrinsically empathetic and that empathy is a skill we can train. The designer Guntra Laivacuma, has developed a solution. The Empathy Gym is a narrative board game that trains players to develop empathy towards others by sharing stories about emotions, actions and sensations. In its warm-up phase, the game asks participants to practice recognizing emotions through facial expressions. In the exercise phase, train players to develop better listening skills. Finally, in the cool-down phase, the game allocates time for people to reflect on their experience.
The continuous rise of stress-related disorders experienced by many in times of the Covid-19 pandemic are encouraging shifts towards wellness practices and habits that favor idleness and better sleeping in an effort to recover lost time. Niksen is a Dutch lifestyle concept that is becoming a trend in Northern Europe. It is the art of doing nothing to fight the increasingly fast pace of life. Practicing niksen means just being. It contemplates activities such as just hanging around, looking at surroundings or listening to music. All of it “without purpose,” without worrying about being efficient and productive. This philosophy has proven to be effective to reduce anxiety and fortify the immune system.
The home delivery culture and the need to reduce waste and one’s carbon footprint has encouraged a series of companies to revamp the old milkman model where goods are dropped and replenished at the door without the need for extra packaging. Among such companies, London-based Charrli that has created refillable glass bottles for everything from shampoos and conditioners to skincare products and soap, supporting a clean and simple life. The home delivery, subscription-based model simplifies the process by avoiding trips to a shop to refill toiletries.
As people become more and more concerned about hygiene and the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, cities and institutions are taking measures provide healthier environments to city dwellers. The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao coated its outdoor signs with Pureti Print, a treatment developed in collaboration with NASA that mimics the natural process of photocatalysis to remove pollutants, bacteria, mold, and bad odor from the air. It is estimated that air purifying effect of the signs is the equivalent of that of over 700 trees. According to the design studio that implemented the project, Estudios Durero, the treatment can be applied to any printed material, multiplying future possibilities.
In the ever-expanding on-demand society and where people go directly to product and service providers to satsify their needs bypassing, in many cases, intermediaries, the ultimate business model is peer-to-peer commerce. Swimply is the Airbnb of private pools. The company connects pool owners with those looking to cool off in the heat of summer to rent backyard pools for $45 to $60 per hour. The company will soon launch a new platform called Joyspace where customers will be able to rent private spaces other than pools, like tennis and basketball courts, home gyms, backyards and private boats, on an hourly basis.
Eating out in times of social distancing can prove challanging for both restaurants and clients as, sometimes, rules are not strictly applied. March Gut designed a maple wood board which allows all dishes and cutlery to be served in one trip and while maintaining social distance. Originally designed for an Austrian hotel restaurant, the Alma tray is slightly longer than the minimum required distance of 1 metre in Austria to avoid the diffusion of Coronavirus.
The rental culture is making new adepts by the day as hard-pressed for cash and sustainability conscious younger customers are navigating through the pandemic. People are spending more time at home and they wish to turn their abodes into comfortble, beautiful and safe havens. Highsnobiety co-founder, Jeff Carvalho, in a recent episode of Digiday’s weekly show “The New Normal” said that “home goods are being coveted in the way that sneakers and clothes were being coveted…[Now] a coffee table can be seen as a desirable object.” As a result, the furniture rental market has seen dramatic increases and companies such as Feather, Hurr, and Harth have all seen spikes in rental requests in the last few months.
In times of self-preservation, people wish to boost their immune system and are increasingly concerned about whether the food they ingest is non-GMO and organic. Normally, farmers and businesses have to send produce to a lab to check for contaminants and that involves waiting a certain amount of time to obtain the results. The Inspecto machine uses the Raman Spectroscopy technique to check for chemical contaminants in food through a break-down of ingredients. For example, the device can measure pesticide residue levels or check the quality of a product before purchasing and during storage so that supermarkets, as well as regulatory officials, can make more informed decisions with peace of mind of their customers.
Knowledge from genetic science is being incorporated in products and services in order to to take hyper personalization to a new level. Matchmaking services are not excluded, especially in countries where birth rates are drastically dropping, like Japan and Singapore. For example, Tokyo-based Gene Partner Japan uses DNA samples to analyze a person’s human leucocyte antigen (HLA) genes. The bigger the difference between two people’s HLA makeup, the more likely they’ll find each other attractive. In Singapore, GeneMate helps clients find their life partner using biodata and the firm’s own unique algorithm. Companies in both Japan and Singapore have received government support for their DNA matchmaking services.
In a society that feels under biological threat and is required to continue to perform, the latest generations of wearables have integrated a series of emotional measurement and stress management tools for a more holistic approach to health. Amazon is launching its first fitness tracker, Halo. Its main selling point is emotional analysis using voice recognition technology: the device picks up emotional states based on the pitch, intensity, rhythm, and tempo of the user’s voice and flags “notable moments” throughout the day. Some of the emotional states identified include hopeful, elated, hesitant, bored, apologetic, happy, worried, confused, and affectionate.
Anxiety is taking its toll on a society crossed by conflict and civil unrest. For many individuals, it has become fundamental to develop kinship and process grief together. This has been especially true for the African American community. Social entrepreneur Elizabeth Dawes Gay launched Ipadé as a “functional sanctuary” for women of color providing a safe space for people to come together to recognize that they are not alone and build community.
The increasing diffusion of more sustainable consumer behavior is leading to a series of initiatives that priviledge access over ownership. Danish fashion brand Ganni is going to expand their rental service through Ganni Repeat, a collaboration with Levi’s. The parternship features a rental only capsule collection for the European and North American markets with pieces made from upcycled vintage Levi’s 501 jeans. The collection, called “Love Letter”, can be rented starting at $55 a week for up to three weeks. Items are home delivered in reusable RePack packaging.
The second-hand fashion market continues to grow and even small stores are moving online due to the impact of Coronavirus. PaperCity magazine recently published “A Guide to Virtual Vintage Shopping in Texas,” which features local vintage boutiques that have opted to selling on Instagram because of restrictions brought about by the Pandemic. Small stores are embracing innovative digital initiatives and they have found a sure avenue to reach younger customers who are more eco-conscious and prefer to buy second-hand garments.
Architects and urban planner are taking into account new criteria and demands to prepare for future COVID-resilient cities. Italian Studio Stefano Boeri Architetti and SON-Group partnered to design a new urban plan for a COVID-resilient living district in Albania for 12.000 residents. The design features a big space next to the Tirana river with walkable pathways and areas for outdoor exercise, with extensive roof gardens. Smart technologies will be incorporated to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other viruses.
Post-pandemic, businesses and organizations are redesigning their services to prioritize outdoor space. Kings Cross in London now hosts a perment outdoor gallery which was inaugurated at the end of July with the exhibition ‘Games We Play’ from The Outside Art Project. The 26-acre space comprises 15 movable displays featuring the work of famous photographers and visual artists, with benches and seating available throughout. The idea is to replicate the project with cultural organizations across the UK and other countries in the future.
What is the definition of ‘normal’ today? More and more people acknowledge that there is a range of neurological abilities which form part of the human experience. Even the media media portrayals of people with neurological disabilities – historically almost non-existent or inaccurate – is changing. Little Voice, a comedy-drama that debuted on Apple TV depicts a character with autism, Louie King. The actor playing King - Kevin Valdez - is also on the spectrum. The show co-creator, Jessie Nelson, who wrote and directed the 2001 film I Am Sam featuring Sean Penn playing a dad with an intellectual disability, said that at that time, he “was not allowed to cast an actor with a disability in the lead. I could barely get the movie made. It took me years and years and years to convince people that this was a story worth telling.”
As retail in big cities is struggling in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, big brands are moving their attention to suburbs and vacating their central locations. The WSJ reported that there are over 300 vacant storefront on Broadway in Manhattan, a 78% increase from 2017. Among brands that have closed their Manhattan stores are Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penny, Le Pain Quotidien. Residents too are looking to suburbian areas for a change of lifestyle. Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel reports that residential contracts in Manhattan dropped 31% in August while the housing market in the suburbs is booming and bids are above asking prices.
Increasingly skincare brands are resorting to science collaborating with MIT experts and Nobel prize winners to formulate products that consumers can fully trust, especially after the Coronavirus pandemic. The brand Augustinus Bader – names after the stem cell and biomedical scientist behind the formulas – has created a hand cream that helps with dryness from over-washing, the new routine to avoid the spread of the virus. The brand patented a ‘TFC8 technology’ which uses amino acids, vitamins, and “synthesized versions of molecules found naturally in skin”.
More and more traditional medicine is converging with holistic medicine, however, the connection is sometimes nebulous. Kenshō Health is a directory and information service that merges science and holistic medicine. For such reason, it wants to be more like a holostic health medical journal bringing scientific rigor and data to wellness. Kenshō’s ensures that all the care providers on the platform are 100% validated by carrying out a comprehensive background check. Providers come from Stanford University, Harvard University, Columbia University and other.
The virtual and physical universes are increasingly merging in retail experiences. To open its new Harajuku store in Tokyo, Ikea developed a facility to house the popular virtual influencer Imma, a character who does not exist in real life and who is followed by more than 250,000 people on Instagram. For three days, Imma lived in the store's windows, redesigned for the occasion as her living room and bedroom through high-definition LED screens placed inside the physical rooms. The physical space was "curated" by the influencer to give the appearance of being a real place at the same time that her daily life was broadcasted on YouTube during 9 hours.
Interior design will incorporate extra functions to improve people's health. Artemide has developed the patented Integralis technology that allows lamps to become disinfectants for environments by using ultraviolet light. Installed in traditional lighting devices, the technology can be programmed through an app to emit normal light when there are people in the room (and avoid damage to human beings) and ultraviolet (UV) rays when empty to sanitize the environment. Devices in the busiest rooms can be programmed to emit short bursts of stronger UV light when no one is present to disinfect both surfaces and the air.
In an attempt to align death with the circular values embraced in life, designer and researcher at the Delft University of Technology Bob Hendrikx designed Living Cocoon, a coffin made from fungal mycelium that helps bodies decompose faster as well as improve soil quality. The coffin structure takes a week to grow and, once it contains the body of the deceased, it takes about two to three years to decompose. This represents a great advantage over conventional wooden coffins that take more than ten years to decompose in the ground.
In times of COVID19, traditional celebrations are transformed with the use of extended reality technologies. To get around the restriction of gathering large numbers of people, the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay held an online graduation ceremony in which 2,000 students participated through personalized avatars. Using Virtual Reality, the avatars took the stage and received their certificates from the director of the IIT. The ceremony was broadcasted on two local television channels, as well as YouTube and Facebook Live.
Urban design incorporates sanitary functions to make cities safer in times of COVID19. In Seoul, South Korea, bus shelters designed like glass cabins have been installed and equipped with temperature measuring devices and ultraviolet disinfection lamps. Passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal imaging camera and the door will open only if their temperature is below 37.5 ° C. The cabins also include an air conditioning system with ultraviolet lamps that kill viruses while cooling the air.
Designers are reacting to the extraordinary times of change we are living as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Viktor & Rolf’s Autumn/Winter 2020 collection titled ‘Change’ features silky nightgowns emblazoned with emojis and "unapproachable" coats covered in spikes and tubes. It includes three mini-wardrobes each composed of three looks including a nightgown, a dressing gown, and a coat. Each wardrobe represents a different state of mind about the pandemic: the first is about a ‘panoply of gloom" and aims to emulate a feeling of sadness and anger; the second represents the "conflicting emotions" that many are experiencing during the pandemic; the third wants to "radiate love" converting the "melancholy" of the first capsule collection into "serenity".
Thinking solutions that help improve the quality of life of minorities is a necessary strategy in a critical social context. A new app called WYD Pride has been developed to help LGBTQIA+ people find places where they will feel welcomed and accepted. The app combines user comments, Yelp reviews, and Instagram photos to help users make an informed and safer decision about where to go in the neighbourhood. The app includes three different methods for discovering LGTBQIA+-friendly places, including list view, pin view, and an immersive AR mode.
Helping the public to better understand products is one way to earn their loyalty. Aldi supermarket chain in the UK has launched an online course for wine shoppers and drinkers following research which shows that two thirds (63%) of Brits are confused and a further 57% admit to “feeling daunted” when it comes to buying wine. Aldi’s wine course, which is free of charge, has been called the “Aldiploma” and the company says it is the first supermarket wine course of its type in the UK, offering “price-tag and pressure-free learning” with six online modules and video tutorials.
Creating communities around physical care and sports remains an effective brand strategy.’The Runaway' by New Balance in London is the first-ever pub to be opened by the sneaker brand. It targets marathon runners who will pay for beers with miles run and tracked through the social fitness network Strava. To support runners who are preparing for spring marathons, there are a series of running challenges: the first challenge is to run 40 miles for pints, while the last challenge tasks runners to go the distance of 10K for pints. Inside the pub, there's a fully stocked bar but as this unique destination expressly appeals to active individuals, it also includes a gym area with weights for working out.
The merger between the cosmetic, health, and textile sectors will open up new possibilities for innovation. The designers behind the Sildior – a luxury towel that helps keep your skin hydrated and flawless - claim to be able to physically pause the signs of aging by relying on a specially engineered fabric with an anti-aging Sericin protein built into it. The towel is woven from 100% Mulberry Silk, a high-grade silk obtained from the cocoon of the Bombyx mori silkworm. The silkworm is also responsible for producing a protein called Sericin, found in most cosmetics for its ability hydrate the skin and reduce the presence of wrinkles.
With the increasing awareness of the positive effects of good nutrition, people are demanding new food philosophies. Future Food Today is the title of SPACE10’s first cookbook developed with sustainability in mind both for people and the planet. Uniting technology, science and food, recipes are based on future food trends that will define nutrition in the next few years. From “dogless hotdogs” and “algae chips”, to “bug burgers” and “microgreen popsicles”, it’s packed with dishes we could, one day, be eating on a regular basis. SPACE10 is IKEA’s future living lab.
Anti-racism protesters are finding creative ways to express their opinion and deliver strong messages to change culture. The statue of slave trader Edward Colston has been replaced in Bristol, UK, with a sculpture of one of the protesters who brought it down in the framework of anti-racist protests. The new image depicts Jen Reid, an activist photographed at the scene when the sculpture was shot down. The artist Marc Quinn was charged with designing and then coordinating the direct action of locating the new statue - in just 15 minutes and without authorization from the local government - as "an incredible act of poetic justice".
Amid increased activism on the streets and online, the issue of privacy is at risk with the use of new facial recognition technologies. The encrypted messaging application ‘Signal’ developed a new tool to easily blur faces when users share images of people, adding another layer of privacy while not completely hiding the subject's identity. The company decided to add this option to support global protests against racism and police violence caused by the murder of George Floyd by law enforcement. “2020 is a pretty good year to cover your face”, the company said.
'Eau De Space' is a perfume created by NASA that recreates the aroma of space following the astronauts' perception: "space smells of metal, a quite pleasant sweet metallic sensation", "gunpowder", or "raspberry and rum". Developed by Steve Pearce at the request of NASA in 2008 to aid in the training of astronauts, the perfume will soon be available to the public. It also works on another perfume called Smell of the Moon. The goal is to increase interest in experimental learning in disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The tourism sector is exploring new possibilities to overcome the limitations caused by the global health crisis. After organizing the first live virtual tour from the Palace of Versailles on May 14, Alibaba's travel services platform, Fliggy, renewed the experience with the British Museum on June 30. The 120-minute live stream was animated from the museum by a Chinese guide, Yiman Lin, to accompany the 370,000 virtual visitors through famous works on display, such as the Rosetta Stone, the statue of King Ramses II, the sculptures of the Parthenon and the double-headed Aztec serpent.
Digital activism grows and expands its political influence thanks to the ingenuity of people who find new forms of action and protest. Thousands of teenagers - many of them still unable to vote - are actively intervening in the US presidential campaign by using the Tik Tok social network to boycott candidate Donald Trump, after he announced his intention to ban it for being an app of Chinese origin. Last month, hundreds of thousands of young people signed up to attend Trump's first convention after lockdown in Tulsa but did not show up leaving the stadium semi-empty - a devastating image. In recent days, thousands of ‘tikTokers’ followed a step-by-step guide on how to downgrade Trump's 2020 campaign app rating on the Apple App Store and hinder its download.
Post-coronavirus we will see more home objects and products performing additional functions related to keeping our homes safe and clean from bacteria and virus. The Sterilizing Lamp by Frank Chou, uses an ultraviolet light to disinfect objects such as the user’s keys, mobile phone and wallet in 60 seconds.
The new normal will require new products and services that help people to regularly sanitize objects and spaces in daily life. From devices to clean fruits and vegetables to system that keep a living environment healthy. Italian studio Carlo Ratti Associati has designed a concept for a portable case to purify clothes removing bacteria and viruses from fabrics. The “Pura-Case” uses ozone in the sanitization process and can be controlled using a battery-powered panel on top or remotely via a mobile app.
Dyson has patented a new type of air purifier which it describes as a mix between an air purification system and a set of headphones for an effective but somewhat subtle solution to staying healthy in germ- or pollution-filled settings. Dyson's portable air purifier features two speakers assemblies -- both have a filter, an impeller that creates airflow and a motor that drives the impeller. The clean air travels down a nozzle and to a front strip. This strip has an outlet that releases air toward your nose and mouth.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne revealed a wearable skin that allows virtual reality (VR) users to feel objects in virtual environments. The skin-like supplement, made from silicone and electrodes, is filled with sensors and actuators which work together to realistically mimic a sense of touch. At the moment, the prototype is limited to a fingertip device; however, researchers are hopeful of more applications in the future.
Carmaker Ford designed an ‘emoji jacket’ that could make cycling on the road much safer. It features a large LED panel on the back allowing the user to display their mood and therefore communicate much easier with drivers. Ford created the jacket as part of its ‘Share the Road’ campaign, to encourage more people to cycle safely. The big emoji icons are displayed as indicators and a hazard signal to demonstrate a rider’s movements and possible dangers ahead. The function can be controlled via a wireless remote mounted to the bike’s handlebars.
Videos with the hashtag #CAMHS – standing for child and adolescent mental health services – now total 6.1 million total views on TikTok as young users share their experiences with overstretched healthcare. But the app is also being used as an important springboard for discussion. Along with providing a platform for young Muslim women to speak out about Islamophobia, and LGBTQ+ people to discuss coming out to their parents, there’s a whole subgenre emerging where teens are speaking out against the failings of mental health services.
Matt Healy, frontman of Brit award-winning band the 1975, stated that the group will only perform at festivals with a gender-balanced lineup. Healy’s decision comes in the wake of the announcement of the lineup for Reading and Leeds festival, which continues to be heavily male-dominated. Out of the 91 artists in the first announcement, only 20 are female or feature women. Only three of the 18 acts announced for its main stage include women.
Unilever announced it is updating its principles for food and beverage marketing to children. For instance, it will no longer target marketing communications to children under 12 (over 25% of its audience). The key reason is that the World Health Organization calls childhood obesity one of the most serious public health issues of the 21st century. Unilever wants to help parents, caregivers and kids make informed choices about the food and drinks they buy.
Theory has created a new labeling system called ‘Theory For Good’, which tackles three of the signature materials they use in clothes—wool, cotton, and linen. The new system considers the fabrics’s environmental footprint, workers’ rights, and animal welfare. Products with tags that say Good Wool, Good Linen, and Good Cotton mean that the material in them is traceable all the way back to origin. The objective is that by 2025, 100% of Theory’s signature fabrics will be traceable.
Artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s new artwork is titled ‘Safety Jackets Zipped the Other Way’ and comes in a range of configurations that can be tailored to one’s own taste, or space. It consists of a set of high-vis safety jackets combined with standard construction materials such as wall hooks and cable ties that can be assembled according to an Ikea-esque self-assembly instruction sheet. The self-assembled democratic artwork meets the artist’s purpose: to provide the possbility to make art to anyone.
With a reference to the scratching technique that was made famous by hip hop artists, Soltani+Leclercq designed ‘Scratch my Rijks’, a series of postcards from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Using a coin, users can reveal the hidden artwork that lies beneath the golden scratcheable surface, turning the user into an archivist, a restorer, an artist, and a viewer. The postcards perfectly convey the museum’s primary missions of storing, restoring, and displaying art pieces.
In an effort to redefine our relationship with technology and gadgets, design studio SF-SO created ‘Tamed Digital Devices’. The project is a response to the prevalence of digital products in the current society with numerous built-in features and functions that, rather than helping, just create confusion for the user. To counteract this trend, the Tamed Digital Devices bring back the tactility of analogue products in a series of four objects: the ball internet radio, the cone bluetooth speaker, the wheel digital radio, and the fingerprint smart door lock. Moving away from touch screens and electronic sensors, the intuitive physical interfaces derived from analogue products aim at reducing the user’s overall time and effort.
Chef’s Pierre Thiam is the owner of Teranga, a West African eatery in New York who believes his restaurant should contribute to saving the planet’s biodiversity. He prefers to use ingredients from underutilized crops because, in his words, “designing a menu should be a conscious and responsible act.”
With coronavirus spreading across the world and dominating the news a Chinese designer, Duyi Han, decided to pay tribute to the medical workers who are risking their lives to help those in need. He illustrated the walls and ceilings of a historic church in China’s Hubei province – where the epidemic began – with the traditional style of church paintings and frescos showing medical workers who are selflessly putting themselves at the front line of the virus.
The “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel” exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), includes a fully functional hotel room meticulously recreated as a copy of the suite from Hopper’s 1957 painting Western Motel where people can sleep one night. From a blue garment thrown over a chair in the foreground, to the angle of the light and the vista beyond every detail has been recreated.