Need to Know
11 : 06 : 20

Special Projects’ empathetic Covid-19 app design, a homely staycation collection for the elevated outdoors, and Americans recognise that racism is rife.

A car park rewilded as a biodiverse meadow

Infield by Linda Tegg, Stockholm

Stockholm – Artist Linda Tegg has rewilded a car park outside ArkDes, Sweden's national centre for architecture and design.

The large-scale installation – Infield – comprises more than 60 plant species native to Sweden, and is intended to attract birds and insects to the site over its three-month duration.

‘[Sweden’s national architecture and design] policy aims to make Swedish cities more sustainable and equitable, through better architecture, art and design,’ explains Kieran Long, director of ArkDes. ‘Infield adds to this debate by asking questions about what the public spaces of the future might look like, whether we work with nature instead of against it, making space for non-human species and sharing the city with them.’

As we explore in our Enlightened States macrotrend, urban architecture is evolving to promote wellbeing through intuitive design and sustainable materials, while also encouraging greater synergy with the natural world.

Covid-19: A more human app for tracking the pandemic

Track and Trace by Special Projects Track and Trace by Special Projects
Track and Trace by Special Projects Track and Trace by Special Projects

UK – Special Projects has imagined a series of interfaces to help humanise the use of Covid-19 track and trace apps.

The studio’s conceptual app features are focused on enhancing the user experience of such apps at a time when many people are feeling uncertain and anxious about tracking their health. The agency suggests using a loading animation to remind users they are part of a group of millions sharing their health data. Its isolation mode shows users how far they are into their quarantine and how many other people are at the same point, while another feature shares support messages from notable people, such as the Queen and Stormzy.

According to Special Projects, calmness, humanness and empathy sit at the heart of its designs and proposed user experience – characteristics it says are essential to ensure the required 60% of the UK population instal and actively use track and trace apps.

Demystifying data is integral to such contact-tracing apps, and Special Projects is showing how creative agencies can use Digital Dialogues to simplify the experience.

REI and West Elm take home comforts outside

US – Homeware retailer West Elm and outdoor gear specialist REI Co-op have co-created a range of homely camping gear.

The 35-piece collection combines REI’s outdoor-gear expertise with West Elm’s design aesthetic for staycation-suitable products. In addition to folding chairs, re-usable tableware and patterned cushions, the two brands have also co-produced a special Camp Monsters podcast episode for families and kids to listen to during their outdoor adventures.

‘We designed this modern collection of colourful everyday entertaining essentials and sustainably sourced outdoor textiles to complement REI Co-op’s high-performing recreational gear,’ says Jeffrey Hannoosh, senior vice-president of design for West Elm. ‘[The] collaboration inspires families to bring the comforts of home to the great outdoors – from week nights dining al fresco to relaxing summer weekends in the back yard.’

Amid a resurgence in domestic travel and high-end staycations, brands and retailers are embracing the burgeoning trend for the Elevated Outdoors.

West Elm and REI

Stat: Americans agree on the pervasive nature of racism

A demonstrator speaking to police officers during a protest on 31 May, 2020, in Kansas City, Missouri by Jamie Squire A demonstrator speaking to police officers during a protest on 31 May, 2020, in Kansas City, Missouri by Jamie Squire

Attitudes towards racism are radically changing in the US, according to a new poll by Monmouth University. Released as the Black Lives Matter movement is gaining momentum and media coverage around the world, the study shows that 76% of Americans – including 71% of white people – called racism and ethnic discrimination in the US ‘a big problem’. This figure is up 25 percentage points from 2015, when just 51% of Americans said the same.

Further showcasing a turning point in American mindsets, 57% of the US public believe that the anger that led to these protests is fully justified. ‘It seems we have reached a turning point in public opinion where white Americans are realising that black Americans face risks when dealing with police that they do not,’ says Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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