Need to know
03 : 01 : 18

03.01.2018 Technology : Luxury : Finance

Wardrobe NYC’s curated wardrobe edit, GMO Internet seeks to make Bitcoin mainstream, women’s social media fatigue, and more of today’s top headlines.

1. Baidu highlights the tactile qualities of speaker material

Baidu Raven H film by Builders Club, London

China – Chinese internet giant Baidu has commissioned London-based studio Builders Club to create a series of 3D animations that make sound tangible. Created to coincide with the launch of the brand’s new artificially intelligent speaker Raven H, Builders Club uses rippling, sliding and dripping effects to ‘pay tribute to the product’s playful, quirky identity’.

The films explore the materiality of four of the speaker’s design elements, including connectivity, signal waves, AI and colours, offering a new visual language for a sector in which marketing campaigns are typically aesthetically nondescript and traditionally focus on advances in technology.

Brands such as Baidu and Covestro, the high-tech polymeric material supplier, are working with digital designers to re-imagine technology in a more poetic light that adds new meaning to the possibilities offered by the product.

2. The first minimalist direct-to-consumer luxury model

WARDROBE.NYC, New York. Photography by Jackie Nickerson WARDROBE.NYC, New York. Photography by Jackie Nickerson
WARDROBE.NYC, New York. Photography by Jackie Nickerson WARDROBE.NYC, New York. Photography by Jackie Nickerson
WARDROBE.NYC, New York. Photography by Jackie Nickerson WARDROBE.NYC, New York. Photography by Jackie Nickerson

New York – Designer Josh Goot and stylist Christine Centenera have launched the first luxury direct-to-consumer label, Wardrobe NYC. The brand offers an edit of either four or eight seasonal luxury essentials, allowing customers to effortlessly update their wardrobe with an entire outfit for £1,104 ($1,500, €1,245) and £2,208 ($3,000, €2,491), respectively.

Designed in New York and manufactured in Italy, the garments include a monochrome selection of blazer, shirt, t-shirt and trousers for the men’s four-piece collection and a blazer, shirt, t-shirt and skirt for the women’s range. ‘It’s a considered, cohesively styled solution that focuses on luxury without excess,’ explains Centenera.

Tired of excessive choice, luxury consumers are increasingly searching for a more curated, minimalist approach to retail, an idea that is examined in our Anti-choice Architecture microtrend.

3. GMO Internet lets employees receive Bitcoin remuneration

Japan – GMO Internet has announced that staff can opt in to a scheme in which they are paid up to £656 ($890, €738) of their monthly salary in Bitcoin.

The scheme is designed to boost understanding of the cryptocurrency in the company by integrating it into everyday life. GMO Internet began trading Bitcoin in May 2017 and will soon begin mining the virtual currency, earning new Bitcoins as a reward for helping to approve transactions, as it seeks to become further integrated into the cryptocurrency community.

‘We hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it,’ company spokeswoman Harumi Ishii told The Guardian.

As old value systems give way to new ones, brands in the near future will need to consider how they can become part of this conversation through schemes such as GMO’s Bitcoin initiative.

Live OS by Herman Miller, US Live OS by Herman Miller

4. A/D/O enlists designers to explore future water consumption

Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers
Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers
Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers Water Futures by A/D/O and Jane Withers

Brooklyn – Mini’s creative space A/D/O has worked with London-based design curator Jane Withers on a new research programme that will examine the future of safe and sustainable drinking water as well as the relationship between drinking water and city life. Responding to issues such as scarcity and pollution, Water Futures will promote cross-disciplinary collaborations in order to use design to re-imagine our access to water.

‘Our reliance on the plastic bottle has developed a toxic drinking water culture that is poisoning the marine environment,’ says Withers. ‘As cities gear up to ditch the disposable plastic habit, we urgently need to develop alternative ways to collect, carry and enjoy water in the urban environment.’

London Design Festival 2017 similarly featured 13 designers reflecting on the future of water, a resource that is both essential but has traditionally been overlooked in the design world.

5. Social media fatigue is growing, largely driven by women

As noted in 2014 with our JOMO microtrend, consumers are increasingly taking time out from technology and choosing to spend more time in the real world. Despite the fact that social media platforms promise to be spaces of community and connection, constant bombardment and unrealistic portrayals of everyday life have led to a greater understanding of the negative effects these platforms have.

In this vein, The Focus Filter macrotrend considers how brands can help to counteract this social media fatigue and help refocus their audience’s attention in the here and now.

6. Thought-starter: Should brands open-source their data to remove AI bias?

With people putting so much trust in the hands of algorithms, journalist Josh Walker explores why opening up your business to an unknown AI could help remove future bias, and facilitate civic change.

It has been well documented that, for all the best intentions that AI and algorithms have in their learning and rapid decision-making, they are inherently biased. Just last year, a report from ProPublica claimed that the program used by a US court for risk assessment was inherently racist. The system was found to be almost twice as likely to flag a black prisoner to reoffend as it was a white person (45% compared to 24%).

Interestingly, a recent article from Motherboard reported that much of the biased nature of these algorithms comes down to copyright. With so much of the data used to train algorithms in the US protected by copyright, and AI researchers having to use public domain works to test their algorithms, problems are sure to arise.

In order to create an eco-system wherein their products and services are future-proofed, will brands therefore need to become more transparent, opening up their data and collaborating with partners?

Read the full Opinion here.

Graphcore is a machine learning start-up Graphcore is a machine learning start-up