News 18.01.2022

Need to Know

Useful School democratises design education, a law makes companies responsible for employee sustainability and body positivity boosts shapewear sales.

Useful School pushes the boundaries of design education

Ritesh Gupta, Founder of Useful School, Global Ritesh Gupta, Founder of Useful School, Global
Useful School, Global Useful School, Global
Useful School, Global Useful School, Global

Global – Designed specifically for people of colour, Useful School is a new pay-what-you-can online design curriculum championing a next-gen approach to education.

Launched in response to the sustained under-representation of people of colour in the design sector, the school follows a curriculum that is built from the ground up to focus on equity. As its founder Ritesh Gupta explains: ‘We’re divesting – we have classes centring people of colour the whole way through, from constraining certain projects to utilise fonts by people of colour to helping students rally around answering questions that people of colour face at work.'

Kicking off with two classes based around product design, Useful School intends to help students build a portfolio and hone their personal style, while ensuring it's accessible to all. To do this, it operates under a pay-what-you-can model.

With everything from its syllabus to branding diverging from traditional academia, Useful School is an inspiring example of the emerging education frameworks we identified in Modern (Un)learning, a trend that makes up the Reformation Generation.

Strategic opportunity

Academic institutions and businesses alike should not discount the viability of non-traditional financial models. Consider how you could use a patron-based, subscription or pay-what-you-can model

CES 2022: A robot that replaces human chefs

Beyond Honeycomb, South Korea Beyond Honeycomb, South Korea
Beyond Honeycomb, South Korea Beyond Honeycomb, South Korea

Las Vegas – Aiming to eliminate the laborious process of food preparation, South Korean innovator Beyond Honeycomb has created an AI-powered robot that can recreate the taste and texture of restaurant-level meals. With the tagline ‘famous chef dishes for everyone’, the kitchen robot has ambitious plans to democratise the fine dining experience.

As the restaurant industry continues to face labour shortages and pandemic-induced closures, Beyond Honeycomb hopes that replacing trained chefs with machines that can be installed in commercials kitchens worldwide will help to free the hospitality sector from its reliance on skilled labour. By analysing the molecular data of a dish while it is cooking, the AI is able to reproduce each meal, memorising new recipes in just 48 hours.

Envisaging a future when chefs are not limited by the constraints of time and geography, Beyond Honeycomb could allow chefs to release recipes that can be reproduced thanks to AI-powered machines. To learn more about the disruptors bridging appetites and algorithms, read our interview with food innovator Alon Chen.

Strategic opportunity

With disruptive technology poised to replace skilled labour, spatial designers should consider how they can repurpose their physical spaces to adapt to these changes

Dutch companies will monitor employees’ CO2 emissions

The Netherlands – When it comes into effect in January 2023, a new law will require Dutch companies with more than 100 employees to monitor their staff's CO2 emissions.

The measure will require employers to survey staff on whether they commute to work using a bike, public transport, a car or by foot. Those who make the journey by car will then be required to state what automobile model they own and what kind of fuel it consumes. On top of personal transport, employers are also mandated to monitor how much CO2 staff members emit when doing their job – this could include anything from company business trips to technology usage as well as other emission-producing activities.

The rule will first be implemented as a data-collection programme, with the aim of using the information to devise public policies that reduce CO2 emissions in the future. As the private sector becomes more involved with the climate crisis, the initiative aligns itself with the principles we put forward in our recent Sustainability Futures report.

Eco-Bot.Net by Robert Del Naja and Bill Posters in collaboration with Dale Vince

Strategic opportunity

Companies looking to take climate action can do so in small ways. Encourage employees to delete unnecessary files to combat the harmful eco-impact of data storage, for example

Stat: Body positivity is developing the shapewear market

Heist, UK Heist, UK

The Millennial popularity of body positive shapewear brands such as Skims, Heist and Spanx is pointing to longer-term growth for the market. According to a report by Research and Markets, the global shapewear market is forecast to be worth £2.7bn ($3.7bn, €3.2bn) by 2028.

Set to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8% from 2021 to 2028, the market for shapewear has benefited from a range of cultural shifts. Originally created to conceal or 'flatten' parts of the body, contemporary shapewear instead embraces body positivity and diversity. For younger customers, the category is about showing off instead of covering up. ‘Shapewear is not about hiding defects for Millennials and Gen Z shoppers; rather, it is seen as apparel that improves rather than alters one’s appearance,’ notes the report.

Furthermore, thanks to developments in fabric technology, shapewear is less uncomfortable and restrictive, with many consumers opting to wear the garment as loungewear or outerwear. As the body positivity movement continues to influence fashion design, the rise of shapewear points to the shifting nature of lingerie marketing which we have previously explored in Femininity Rebranded.

Strategic opportunity

Underwear narratives that focus on concealment are falling out of favour. Embrace all forms of lingerie and underwear – whether functional, decorative or erotic – as forms of self-empowerment

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