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The Brief
Published: 11 Jan 2019

CES 2019: Specdrums Turn Colours into Music

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Connected toy manufacturer Sphero has launched Specdrums, a digital instrument that creates music out of colours, at CES 2019.

Specdrums consists of a Bluetooth-enabled ring that uses light sensors to sample colours from a play pad or the surrounding environment, and an associated app – Specdrums Mix – which turns the colours into sounds from a curated selection of packs. More advanced users can add a second ring and use a more versatile Specdrums Music app with additional instruments, loops and sounds. The rings can also be used as MIDI controllers for third-party apps such as GarageBand and Ableton Live through Bluetooth MIDI.

First announced on Kickstarter in 2017 – and profiled in our CMF Industry View 2018 – Specdrums have been acquired by Sphero for launch this month. The product’s marriage of coding, music and play represents a new direction for the US company, best known to date for its robot toys.

Specdrums builds “a parallel framework between coding and music composition” said Paul Berberian, chief executive of Sphero, in a statement. “By seeing the world around them as a canvas, kids are able to use Specdrums to create their own songs using coding.”

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The Specdrums ring is packaged with a colour pad
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Specdrums can sample any colour and turn it into music

The next generation of digital natives are exploring an experimental and inclusive approach to design and interaction – a trend explored in our A/W 19/20 Design Direction Burst. As seen in our new report The Gen Alpha Moment, parents are also taking a keen interest in physical toys that bridge the gap between the digital and real worlds, bringing coding into the playroom. 

While Specdrums are initially targeted at kids, they can be expanded into a sophisticated digital musical instrument – one that builds on a growing consumer interest in products that explore synaesthesia and crossmodal perception. To see how brands can make use of multisensory experiences, read The Sensory Opportunity Spotlight Trend. 

Stylus will be covering all the latest developments from CES 2019 on The Brief – watch out for our full report on January 23. For more insights, see our CES 2019 Trends Preview.

Published: 11 Jan 2019

Energy-Efficient Innovations for Unpredictable Climates

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Seasonal Curtains by Sofie Leenen

Extreme and unpredictable weather is spurring innovations to control temperature and lighting levels in future homes and cities. From flexible products designed for erratic seasons, to cooling colour for hot climates, these three projects piqued our interest.

  • Cooling Colour: Researchers at Berkley Lab in California have been investigating the cooling qualities of the ancient pigment Egyptian blue. Derived from calcium copper silicate, the colour was first manufactured around 2500 BC.

    Previous studies have shown that when placed in sunlight, the pigment emits photons in the near-infrared spectrum (known as fluorescence), which serves to cool surfaces. However, the latest findings indicate that this effect is actually 10 times stronger than previously thought – a significant discovery that extends the range of cooling colours that might be applied to walls and rooftops in hot climates beyond white.

  • Seasonal Interiors: Amsterdam-based designer Sofie Leenen has developed two woven fabric qualities for use as curtains, altering the light to suit changing seasonal needs.

    The semi-transparent summertime curtain, composed of paper yarn and cotton, filters light without obstructing the view. The winter version features a golden yarn on one side that reflects and amplifies ambient light, and brushed mohair on the reverse to create a cocooning feel. This quality helps reduce energy consumption by sealing heat and light within the interior.
  • Solar-Powered De-icing: Researchers at ETH Zurich University have developed a solar-powered nano-coating that could help defrost surfaces – saving time and money, and also limiting the environmental impact of chemical de-icers.

    The icephobic coating is made from gold and titanium oxide. As the concentrated nanoparticle inclusions absorb solar energy, the surface temperature increases by more than 10 degrees, aiding defrosting and inhibiting further frost formation. The coating has been tested on materials like glass and acrylic, making it suitable for use on windows. 

For more innovations geared towards extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, see Adapting to a Changing Climate.

Published: 10 Jan 2019

Streetwear Buzz: LA Retail Update, Jan 2019

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Clockwise L-R: Dover Street Market, Marcell von Berlin, Hoorsenbuh's, Jumpman LA

Luxury-led streetwear brands are supercharging LA’s booming retail scene, where store spaces that outsize their NY counterparts are creating room for more experimental, events-focused flagships. Stylus identifies four new openings epitomising the city’s sports and streetwear explosion.

  • Dover Street Market: Dover Street Market – the global arbiter of avant-garde fashion – has landed in LA’s Art District with its sixth worldwide outpost. The VM echoes its other five global locations (London, NYC, Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing), presenting fashion within eye-catching installations – this time amid a sprawling building lined with industrial white tiles. The 15,000 sq ft space stocks LA-first streetwear-focused exclusives from skateboarding brand PalaceNikeLab and menswear brand Noah
  • Marcell von Berlin: For its first US outpost, Berlin streetwear brand Marcell von Berlin has opened a 1,200 sq ft space on Melrose Avenue inspired by the German capital’s quirky convenience stores, known as Späti. The shop exudes high-low glamour, with glossy metal and polished concrete juxtaposed with thick velvet drapes that separate the pseudo convenience-store foyer from the main area.
  • Hoorsenbuhs: American jeweller Hoorsenbuhs’ first permanent bricks-and-mortar location in Santa Monica encompasses its HQ, a 1,500 sq ft shop, and a 4,000 sq ft rooftop event space. Cloaked in burnt wood, brass and iron panels, it houses both the brand’s jewellery and branded streetwear clothing collections. Guests can visit a geodesic dome for guided meditations and sound baths on the roof deck. See also Hoorsenbuhs’ pop-up store in Jewellery Retail’s New Horizons
  • Jumpman LA: Nike’s Jordan basketball brand now has a 25,000 sq ft Downtown LA flagship called Jumpman LA. Taking pro-athlete services mainstream, the Flight Lab tests visitors’ performance and gives athletic advice. There’s also a space for personalising sneakers. To acknowledge the community, schools are invited to play basketball at a competition-size roof deck court. See also Local Matters.
Published: 10 Jan 2019

CES 2019: Samsung Bots Take On Care, Retail & Air Quality

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Samsung took to the stage at CES 2019 to unveil a collection of new robots focused on healthcare, retail and air pollution – the company’s first venture into consumer robotics.

Samsung Bot Care is a healthcare assistant, whose features are particularly geared towards elderly family members. The robot tracks heart rate, respiration and blood pressure, and can monitor the quality of users’ sleep. It can also remind elderly users to take medication and exercise, and sync with Internet of Things sensors that detect falls. In the event of a fall, the robot will come to the user’s location and connect them with family, friends or emergency services.

We’re seeing an increasing focus on empathetic tech solutions that connect older family members with distant relatives. For more on this emerging field, see Crafting Modern Connections, part of our Kinship Economy Macro Trend.

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Samsung Bot Care is aimed at the elderly healthcare market
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Samsung Bot Retail streamlines the purchase process

Meanwhile, Bot Retail targets the growing retail robotics sector, where brands such as KLM and China Construction Bank are already experimenting with customer service bots. Samsung’s offering is a mobile robot that can give users directions, display products and accept contactless payments, as well as deliver products such as food and drink to the customer. For more on how robots are transforming retail, see our coverage of Tech. 2018.

Samsung also presented Bot Air – an air quality monitor that syncs with smart home sensors to track pollution levels and works as an air purifier. As we’ve reported on in New Metropolitans, part of our Smart Cities macro trend, air quality is an increasing area of concern for urban consumers.

Stylus will be covering all the latest developments from CES 2019 on The Brief – watch out for our full report on January 23. For more insights, see our CES 2019 Trends Preview.

Published: 7 Jan 2019

Weekly Thought-Starter #007: Adapting to a Changing Climate

Date:Monday, January 7, 2019
Author:Charlie Gilbert

If you’re in the fashion, beauty or product design industry, how are you adapting to climate change?

The extreme heatwaves and natural disasters of 2018 mean that more of us are being exposed to the realities of a changing climate. And this has huge implications for brands.

How, for example, should labels – so used to developing spring/summer and autumn/winter collections – respond to longer, hotter summers and later, wetter winters?

How can beauty brands explore how consumers’ needs will shift between these changing seasons, seeing as these needs are only becoming more pronounced?

And how can product designers create solutions that protect people and their living environments from the adverse weather that will become a fixture of our future?

Our latest set of reports, Adapting to a Changing Climate, uncover some of the most ground-breaking – and genuinely life-changing – responses to this greatest of challenges.

Take Swiss fashion brand Qwstion, for example, which has developed a sustainable material solution to fashion’s waterproofing problem. CottonShell, which uses densely woven long staple fibres that expand when wet, is naturally waterproof and windproof thanks to its high thread count.

Or UK wellness brand De Mamiel, which markets Seasonal Facial Oils that address the “changing effect of the climate, the emotional aspects of transition and their impact on the body”. Its sold-out Summer Facial Oil, for example, contains Evening Primrose and Rosehip Seed Oil to shield the skin from the sun’s rays.

Then, on a grander scale, there’s Hunters Point in Florida – a new development that not only has a ‘net zero’ energy footprint, but also protects its residents from hurricanes by using carbon fibre in its homes.

For brands across these three industries, the message couldn’t be simpler: plan for disaster, or risk succumbing to one.

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Published: 3 Jan 2019

Pinterest Predicts Top 2019 Beauty Trends

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Pinterest Predicts Top 2019 Beauty Trends

This year’s fifth annual Pinterest 100 report predicts the top trends for 2019 based on consumer activity on the social pinning website and app. We summarise the most relevant beauty takeaways to kick off the new year.

  • Silver Foxes: The idea of ageing gracefully is starting to shape marketing and product development strategies within the beauty industry, as consumers begin to embrace this natural process.

    Searches for ‘going grey’ increased by a whopping 879% throughout 2018. While dyeing the hair grey is a trend that continues to grow among young millennials, this statistic suggests older consumers are more open to forgoing hair dye, and letting their hair colour transform naturally.

    In line with this increase, we predict more brands will move away from the outdated stigma of old age. Instead, they’ll work harder to cater to mature consumers with an approach that is focused more on age-love, not age-less, using models and messaging that truly represent this target group.
  • Old-School Remedies: As explored in our S/S 20 Beauty Forecast Revive, beauty brands are bringing back healing remedies and forgotten recipes to appeal to consumers who value heritage in their offerings. For example, searches for witch-hazel increased by 305% over 2018 – suggesting an uptick for use of this ingredient in 2019.

    Witch-hazel can be used on all skin types to treat acne, alleviate skin irritation and reduce inflammation. Product developers should consider new ways to incorporate this hero ingredient into skincare offerings; consider an apothecary-style skincare line that allows customers to mix it into creams and soaps.
  • Skintellectual Solutions: Last year saw more skincare brands targeting a new breed of extremely knowledgeable beauty consumers – dubbed ‘skintellectuals’ – who demand effective formulas at home. Searches for liquid exfoliators saw a 58% increase on Pinterest, as gentle exfoliation with the use of acids continues to gain popularity among this cohort.

    Product developers should take cues from cult beauty brands catering to this rising consumer group. For example, US beauty brand Glossier launched Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector in January 2018. Made for daily use, it aims to minimise pores, exfoliate and even out skin texture. The formula contains salicylic, glycolic and lactic acids to slough away dead skin, while aloe vera, glycerin and niacinamide simultaneously calm and moisturise.

    To learn more about this consumer group’s concerns, see our report Selling to Skintellectuals: Beauty’s New Consumer
Published: 3 Jan 2019

Ways to Recycle Seafood Waste Water

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Researchers at the Chalmers University have found a way to re-use waste water from fish processing

The seafood industry is incredibly water-hungry; it takes around 8,000 litres to prepare one ton of marinated mackerel, and up to 50,000 for a ton of peeled shrimp. But researchers at Chalmers University in Sweden have found new ways to reincorporate this waste water back into the food chain.

The research, dubbed Novaqua, found that the waste water contains high levels of valuable nutrients such as proteins, peptides, fats and micronutrients, which are being washed away into side streams during processing. Using a patented two-step process, the research team was able to recover up to 98% of the protein and 99% of the omega-3-rich fats from samples of water.

The resulting biomass of nutrient-dense liquid, which was shown to contain 66% protein and 25% fat, was then dehydrated. It can be used in a variety of ways – including as feed for salmon, a glaze for frozen fish that stops them becoming rancid, and a substance for microalgae-cultivation.

Project researcher Bita Forghani Targhi said: "I am quite positive of the fact that related industries, sooner or later, will be implementing these [recovery] techniques. With ever increasing awareness of the value of recycling nutrients, this facilitates industrial processes to adopt feasible approaches towards a circular economy."

Also seeking to rescue seafood waste is Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten Cruises. It recently announced that by 2021, six of its cruise ships will run on liquefied biogas – a natural, non-fossil fuel produced from organic fish waste.

For more on the sustainable use of waste in the food space, see Global Food Trends 2018-19: Sial Paris and Fighting the Rising Tide of Food Waste.

Published: 2 Jan 2019

CES 2019 Preview: 5 Trends to Watch

Date:Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Author:Stephen Graves

The world’s largest consumer electronics show kicks off in Las Vegas on Tuesday (January 8). Here are five of the most important trends we expect CES to uncover.

5. Hero Product Launches

Will Google bring something car-related to CES 2019? Well, considering it’s setting up shop on CES’s biggest outdoor stage (usually home to the event’s auto exhibits), quite possibly. It has, after all, been developing self-driving car technology through its Waymo subsidiary.

Meanwhile, Samsung – the recipient of 30 CES 2019 Innovation Awards – could showcase its Galaxy X foldable smartphone prototype, though it may hold off until its own Galaxy Unpacked event later in the year. We’ll have to wait and see.

4. Accessibility

Swiss hearing-aid brand Phonak, whose device supports Bluetooth stereo audio streaming and optimises output for streamed speech and music, is one of several accessibility-focused CES 2019 Innovation Award recipients.

Fellow hearing-aid brand Starkey Hearing Technologies is another. Its Livio AI, which “tracks body and brain health”, is the first hearing aid with Amazon Alexa connectivity.

3. New User Interfaces

User interfaces are no longer just about point-and-click; now, they incorporate everything from voice to gesture control. We expect to see several manufacturers presenting new devices equipped with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, including TVs, headphones and soundbars.

UK hardware developer Ultrahaptics is bringing a new dimension to touch interfaces with its Stratos Inspire haptic feedback device. It enables users to feel textures and shapes in thin air by using ultrasound to project tactile sensations onto the skin.

2. Sustainability

From mess-free, refillable coffee capsules to solar-powered, species-saving smart beehives, the drive for sustainability is affecting every industry – and nowhere will this be showcased more spectacularly than at CES 2019.

Aside from coffee and bees, expect to see Azultec’s Cube 300 crypto-mining PC, which is powered by renewables and recuperates 72% of the heat generated for the user’s home environment system – a positive development for the energy-guzzling cryptocurrency industry.

1. Entertainment Tech

Sony and LG are expected to bring consumer-ready 8K TVs to CES. Audi, meanwhile, will present its Immersive In-Car Entertainment concept, which effectively turns its vehicles into drive-in movie theatres when stationary.

We’re also looking forward to seeing StudyPhones, the first headphones designed specifically for listening to spoken-word audio content. Its creator, Onanoff, was deemed worthy of a CES Innovation Award.

Stylus members can check out our full coverage of CES on January 23. Not a member? Discover the benefits of joining.

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Published: 20 Dec 2018

Sustainable Fashion Round-Up: November/December 2018

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Weekday's Green Week

It’s a time of year notorious for over-consumption, but smart brands and retailers are striving to reframe the busy Christmas shopping season – pushing sustainably minded initiatives that cater to the conscious consumer. From climate charters to simple but smart retail strategies, Stylus pulls together the latest industry wins.

  • Alternative Black Friday: British concept store the Lone Design Club opened an Anti-Black Friday pop-up in London’s Covent Garden, which celebrated the work of sustainable independent labels and hosted workshops on slow living and mindful consumption. It also ran a Christmas concept store in London’s Notting Hill from December 4-17.

    Weekday took a seamless approach to Black Friday, with the sustainably minded brand choosing to embrace the event with a Green Week, offering daily deals on seasonless items only.

  • Ethical Convenience: Multi-brand sites and specialist bricks-and-mortar stores are providing one-stop shops for ethical consumers. Global clothes-swapping concept the Global Fashion Exchange is set to open its first permanent store in Brooklyn, New York in February 2019.

    Dutch e-tailer The Green Labels is providing a sustainable experience from purchase to delivery – curating sustainable brands and ensuring parcel providers and packaging are eco-friendly, too.

    NY-based luxury label Maiyet launched a pop-up concept store in London ahead of the Christmas shopping season, playing host to emerging sustainable brands across fashion, jewellery and beauty.

  • Industry Accountability: The United Nations launched a fashion industry charter for climate action at this year’s climate change conference, COP 24. The initiative brings together luxury fashion houses and high-street retailers committed to reducing aggregate greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

    The V&A played host to the launch of the House of Commons inquiry into sustainability in the fashion industry in November, with leading industry experts gathering to discuss the huge environmental impact of fast fashion. 

For more on the industry’s sustainability push, see Instagangs: Sustainable Heroes, Etsy’s Conscious Shopping Showroom and A Sustainable Journey.

Published: 20 Dec 2018

We contributed to Facebook's 2019 Topics & Trends Report

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2019 Topics & Trends Report from Facebook IQ

The new 2019 Topics & Trends Report from Facebook IQ, featuring insights and commentary from Stylus, covers notable topics of US-based conversation on Facebook this year – signaling the key themes that will matter to consumers in 2019.

Stylus’ chief creative officer Tessa Mansfield outlines the meteoric rise of green beauty as more consumers seek ‘clean’ cosmetics coupled with sustainable packaging; as well as tech-fuelled escapism – the pursuit of thrilling and therapeutic media experiences. See The Great Beauty Green-UpSensory Lifestyle and State of Media: The Fan-First Revolution for more. 

In addition, we comment on the ‘heady’ horror phenomenon – an interest in horror that reflects complex social concerns; the growing influence of K-beauty in the US; the ‘it’ ingredients that Americans are warming to; and consumers embracing accessible adventures. See our 2018 Pop Culture ReviewAsian Beauty Now and Fuelling Fast-Paced Lifestyles for further analysis.

Facebook IQ’s data also reveals a new eco-consciousness across fashion and travel, as well as an increasing proclivity to discuss food in a wellness rather than purely culinary context.  

For Stylus’ take on the cross-category trends to watch in the new year, see our Look Ahead 2019 series of reports.

Published: 19 Dec 2018

Top Christmas Trees Worth Travelling For in 2018

The festive season provides an opportunity for hospitality and travel spaces to make a statement with their Christmas trees and decorations, creatively collaborating with designers, artists and other brands to tell a story. Here are four of our favourites from across the globe.

  • Trashy Tree: Five-star hotel The Temple House in Chengdu, China, makes a statement on sustainability with its Christmas tree, which has been constructed using 2,500 upcycled plastic bottles collected from guests' rooms. The tree has been created in collaboration with Austrian brand Swarovski, whose crystals embellish the festive structure. 

  • Fragrant Fir: In partnership with luxury New York retailer Tiffany & Co., London's St Pancras International train station unveiled a 43ft scented tree, which dispenses waves of Tiffany's Signature fragrance. It showcases more than 1,800 decorations, including 600 handcrafted paper Iris flowers as well as a 17ft Tiffany-branded animatronic robot, all featuring the brand's signature blue colour scheme.
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The Temple House
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Tiffany x St Pancras International
  • Crystal Christmas: New York's Edition hotel has decorated its tree with help from designer Lauren Chanel Patrick, a member of US art collective For Freedoms. Using the sodium compound borax, she has grown ornate crystal ornaments that represent water in its liquid, solid and gas states. The tree topper design is based on the alchemical symbol for water. The final result represents the scarcity of water in many parts of the world.  
  • Fashionable Foliage: Luxury London hotel Claridge's has collaborated with Belgian fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg to create the Tree of Love – a 6m-tall tree decorated with 8,000 silver leaves, 150 hearts and blue glass spheres. Von Furstenberg has a long affinity with the hotel, having designed a series of rooms and suites for the property in 2010.
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For Freedoms x New York Edition
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Diane Von Furstenberg x Claridges

For more Christmas inspiration across categories, see Christmas 2018: Product Design Validations and Christmas Retail 2018: Trends & Opportunities. See also Hotels & Art.

Published: 19 Dec 2018

Google’s Top Beauty Searches for 2018 Revealed

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Fenty Beauty

This year’s most-searched beauty topics on Google included key issues such as environmental consciousness and inclusivity. We highlight the most commercially relevant opportunities for brands and product developers to explore in these two areas.

  • Save the Planet: The beauty industry has been a major contributor to increasing levels of water pollution. In the UK alone, there has been a 700% increase in the number of wet wipes found along the coastline over the last decade (Marine Conservation Society, 2017).

    As consumers become more concerned about the toxic impact of water pollution, they are searching for alternative cleansing methods. The sixth most Googled query was ‘how to take off make-up without make-up wipes’.

    Beauty brands are starting to acknowledge the environmental impact of wet wipes and are developing eco-friendly alternatives. Materials such as cellulose (a plant fibre found in kale) should be used instead of the plastic binders typically used in mass-market products.
  • Colour-Matching Queries: Since the ‘Fenty effect’ inspired global beauty brands to create diverse offerings within the contemporary beauty market, consumers are demanding that cosmetics colours and hair shades suit their needs perfectly. The fourth and ninth most Googled queries were ‘what hair colour looks best on me’ and ‘what colour concealer to use’.

    This year marked the debut of an app that uses augmented reality (AR) to determine a person’s ideal hair colour. German haircare giant Schwarzkopf Professional’s Salon Lab Ecosystem offers tailored haircare tips and tricks with an AR colour consultation. After the consultation, data is fed into a machine that blends custom formulas on demand. Product developers should try to replicate an at-home version of the device, allowing consumers to try out new colours in the comfort of their own homes.

    Meanwhile, brands should continue to break down barriers when creating colour cosmetics for different races. The market is currently saturated with multi-tonal foundations – with the most inclusive offering available in 50 shades, from US brand SPKTRM. Now developers should work on altering the shades and textures of concealers to suit warm, neutral and cool undertones.

    US brand Flesh Beauty’s Hide the Evidence Double Concealer is a good example. The concealer-pen duo is available in a total of 22 colour combinations – ranging from ultra-pale to super-deep. Each end holds a different shade and texture built into a brush tip, which can be worn together or individually to suit coverage and tone preferences.
Published: 17 Dec 2018

Weekly Thought-Starter #006: Eco-Tourism

Date:Monday, December 17, 2018
Author:Charlie Gilbert

An overwhelming majority of travellers (87%) want to see the world sustainably. And 68% intend on staying in eco-friendly accommodation.

Eco-tourism. It’s been around since the 90s, but only recently has it started becoming an absolute priority for travellers and travel companies.

Its evolution is fascinating, which is why we’ve tracked it in Exploring Eco-Tourism. Published last week, it uncovers how hospitality brands are meeting the demands of vacationers who care more than ever about their environmental footprint.

One way is by re-thinking the materials they use. Take Janeiro, which opened in Rio de Janeiro in September. This collaboration between hotelier Carlos Werneck and designer Oskar Metsavaht uses resources as varied as recycled PET and leather made from piraruçu fish skin.

Another is to develop, and foster, sustainable communities. On an archipelago off British Columbia in Canada lies Ocean House. Opened earlier this year, and accessible only by plane and boat, it’s entirely owned and run by Haida First Nations People of Canada – and culture, alongside adventure activities, naturally features in its offering.

Another still is to explore luxury escapism. Few places do this better than Svart (profiled in our 2019 Look Ahead), which, when it opens in Norway in 2021, will become the world’s first energy-positive hotel.

Built from naturally occurring local materials like stone and weather-resistant wood, and powered by solar panels and geothermal wells, the hotel will offer 360° views of the spectacular Svartisen glacier.

How could the ecotourism trend impact your brand? Well, Juliet Kinsman, founder of London-based Bouteco – a travel platform celebrating sustainable stories – told us that “it’s more important than ever for brands to cultivate a voice that people want to hear, and to sound human. [Hotels, and perhaps brands more widely, should] weave their tales of social, environmental and economical sustainability into their brand story.”

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Published: 14 Dec 2018

Colour & Material Highlights from Design Miami/

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Hypernature

Each year, Design Miami/ unveils some of the most inspiring, unconventional and directional work on the design calendar. December’s edition in Miami, Florida, did not disappoint, with rising designers given a platform to show new avenues in their work through collaborations and gallery representations. Here are four of our favourites.

  • Italian fashion house Fendi commissioned Rotterdam-based designer Sabine Marcelis to create 10 water fountains symbolising the historic Fendi logo, and the importance of water in the production of its luxury goods. Streams of water cascaded from polished resin blocks in warm hues of rose, amber and yellow, which were placed on plinths of travertine stone.

  • New York’s Cristina Grajales Gallery’s sensory, tactile space showcased notable new furniture from Korean designer Sang Hoon Kim (also featured in our A/W 20/21 Colour & Materials Direction Grounded). For three generations, Kim’s family has run a foam factory – allowing him to explore the peripheries of the material’s possibilities. Expanding foam treated with different chemical solutions resulted in layered goopy surfaces, viscous drips and stippled textures.

  • Behind billowing sheer curtains featuring a faded sand-dune pattern, sat the liquid algorithmic forms and sensory furniture selected by New York’s Friedman Benda gallery. Centre stage was Lebanese sculptor Najla El Zein’s sandstone bench, featuring two forms nested together. Meanwhile, Dutch designer Joris Laarman’s Maker Bench showcased the possibilities of digital manufacturing with a seamless construction of Maple and Walnut woods.

  • French champagne producer Maison Perrier-Jouët commissioned London design star Bethan Laura Wood to create an enchanting space to drink and relax amidst a riot of colour. Called HyperNature, it featured anodised aluminium tree structures with tendrils of Perspex foliage overlaid with rainbow tints. Nestled within the branches were spirals holding flutes of champagne, which visitors were encouraged to take.
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Sabine Marcelis for Fendi
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Sabine Marcelis for Fendi
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Sabine Marcelis for Fendi
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Friedman Benda
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Sang Hoon Kim
Published: 13 Dec 2018

Free Rentals? Ba&sh’s 'Happy Hour' Retail Teasers

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Ba&sh

How much do you trust your customers? Possibly not as much as French womenswear brand Ba&sh. It’s currently seducing fans at its sociable new NYC store by allowing them to congregate on Friday nights for Happy Hour with Prosecco, manicures and free-to-borrow outfits (just return them by 7pm Monday, please).

Building on the rise of luxury garment rental companies such as US-based Rent the Runway, which let shoppers pay to borrow outfits for a pre-designated period (see Pause & Pulsate in our Liquid Retail Spotlight), Ba&sh has gone a step further by reimagining leasing as a fee-free engagement opportunity. 

There are, however, a few caveats: shoppers must leave a credit card at the store as insurance; garments must be returned by 7pm the following Monday; and (slightly questionably, considering the need for inclusivity) only sample sizes are available. If shoppers fulfil these requirements, they have from 5-7pm on Friday evening to select their weekend outfit from the brand’s loaner selection while sipping Prosecco and receiving complimentary manicures.

While ‘try before you buy’ is rife in retail, it’s generally contained within the store environment – kept under the watchful eye of the brand (see The Soft Sell). This presents Ba&sh’s concept as an unusually trusting gift to its fans, both existing and prospective. It’s also likely to appeal to the next generation of luxury consumers – detailed in Luxury Youth, Selling to Gen Z – who are increasingly more interested in a brand’s accessibility than its price point.

Notably, Ba&sh is bolstering its browse-and-borrow Friday Happy Hours with other community events devised to thrust its Gallic heritage front and centre. On Thursdays, there are French language classes. Occasionally, it hosts ticketed dinners with acclaimed French chefs. And each month, in solidarity with native retail partners, it will highlight a new French brand making its US debut. 

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