News 06.02.2024

Need to Know

3D-printed furniture made from liquid recycled aluminium, APC launches beauty line and why bisexuality is on the rise among American Gen Z.

MIT unveils 3D-printed furniture made from liquid recycled aluminium

Printing furniture with liquid metal by the Self-Assembly Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US

US – Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have unveiled a ground-breaking 3D printing technique called Liquid Metal Printing at the Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture Conference. With this prototype, they can swiftly craft furniture and large-scale objects using liquid metal within minutes. The process involves defining a path for liquid metal to follow and depositing molten aluminium, resulting in sturdy and robust 3D-printed furniture components.

This innovative method boasts a tenfold speed increase compared to traditional metal additive manufacturing processes. Skylar Tibbits, senior author of the study, told Designboom they had to compromise in resolution and visual aesthetics, but emphasised the significance of speed, scale, repeatability and energy efficiency in manufacturing everyday items like tables and chairs.

The researchers have developed a specialised machine for melting aluminium, and plan to work on enhancing consistency in heating and preventing nozzle clogging. The goal is to create a reliable system for melting recycled aluminium and printing parts, presenting a potential game-changer in metal manufacturing. For more material innovations, head to our analysis of Material Matters 2023.

Strategic opportunity

Investigate the use of recycled materials in 3D printing processes, aligning with environmental sustainability goals and catering for consumers increasingly focused on eco-friendly products

French fashion label APC branches out into beauty

APC Self-Care, France APC Self-Care, France
APC Self-Care, France APC Self-Care, France

France – Parisian ready-to-wear label APC has joined the ranks of fashion brands with beauty ambitions. The brand has introduced its debut bodycare line comprising six essential products in a signature orange blossom scent.

APC is a household name when it comes to understated designs, always simple but never boring. The brand is transposing this design philosophy from clothing to beauty with the launch of the bodycare line. The collection, Self-Care, was designed to deliver a comprehensive yet minimalistic beauty routine where every product is essential. For APC that means cologne, shower gel, body lotion, hand soap, hand cream and lip balm. ‘In fashion, as in the cosmetics industry, the balance between too much and not enough is difficult to find,’ explains founder Jean Touitou in a press release. ‘These six products are the best possible. They are designed to make you feel good and comfortable and help you to have a good day.’

While today it is common for fashion brands to expand into lifestyle categories, APC’s beauty range is a great example of an Elastic Brand in action – adapting seamlessly, but without losing sight of its purpose in the process.

Strategic opportunity

The enduring cost of living crisis, alongside decelerating consumerism, present opportunities for fashion and luxury brands to expand into home and beauty spaces. How can you serve another consumer need without alienating your brand universe?

Zoom to enhance video-calling experience with Apple Vision Pro

Global – Zoom launched a new app on 2 February 2024 that is better suited to Apple’s new headset, Vision Pro, and allows users to represent themselves as digital avatars during video calls. This ‘persona’ feature creates a digital avatar based on the wearer’s face scans, enabling natural facial expressions and hand movements to be conveyed to call participants – like Apple’s FaceTime app for the Vision Pro.

Moreover, Zoom’s app will use the Vision Pro’s augmented reality capabilities, seamlessly integrating with users’ physical environments as a floating window. In spring, Zoom plans to introduce additional features to the app, such as real-world pinning, enhancing the immersive quality of calls by enabling users to place up to five Zoom meeting participants within their physical space while removing backgrounds.

The app will also add 3D object-sharing and Team Chat, a Slack competitor, will be integrated into the Vision Pro app, showing how metaverse opportunities can better enhance our Work States Futures.

Zoom on Apple Vision Pro, US

Strategic opportunity

Consider using digital avatars to enhance virtual meetings, making them more engaging and immersive for remote teams

Stat: LGBTQ+ Gen Z in America primarily identify as bisexual and other

Photography by Polina Tankilevitch, Russia Photography by Polina Tankilevitch, Russia

US – A new survey released in January 2024 by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has unveiled a seismic shift in demographics in the US, as more than one in four Gen Z adults (aged 18–25) identify as LGBTQ+, significantly more than older generations. PRRI’s report, based on responses from over 6,600 participants, discovered that 28% of Gen Z adults align with the LGBTQ+ spectrum, contrasting sharply with 10% of all US adults, 16% of Millennials, and a mere 4% of Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.

In contrast with their elders, Gen Z are also more open to identifying as bisexual or other – outside of the gay and lesbian groups. In its LGBTQ+ identity breakdown, the report found that 72% of Gen Z adults identify as straight, 15% as bisexual, 5% as gay or lesbian, and 8% as something else.

The study also highlighted the ethnic and racial diversity of Gen Z, their lower religious affiliations and a notable trend of identifying as LGBTQ+ rather than Republican. The findings echo previous research by Gallup that claimed Gen Z are the most LGBTQ+ inclusive adult generation in history.

As LGBTQ+ rights face growing challenges in the US, Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, underlines the significance of Gen Z’s influence, stating: ‘LGBTQ+ visibility matters and Gen Z are a force for change.’

In Modern Marriage, we previously analysed how the wedding industry has already adapted the business to Gen Z’s demand not only for inclusivity of all sexualities and identities, but also for affordability, mental health advocacy and sustainability.

Strategic opportunity

To attract and retain Gen Z’s attention, consider developing marketing strategies that authentically represent and celebrate the diversity of LGBTQ+ identities within Gen Z, with a focus on bisexuality and other non-binary categories

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