Need to Know
05 : 07 : 18

Harth brings flexibility to furniture, Varjo's new headset blends virtual and physical worlds, Lush launches a collection of solid foundations.

Harth launches a rental service for home interiors

38 Grosvenor Square, London, Harth. Photography by Anders Gramer
38 Grosvenor Square, London, Harth, photography by Anders Gramer
38 Grosvenor Square, London, Harth, photography by Anders Gramer

Global – Harth is a new platform that enables consumers to rent furniture, home décor and art from a number of established brands, designers and artists.

Invited users can either browse and choose items to hire or alternatively upload their own home accessories to rent out. Once an item is chosen, Harth will confirm its availability, cost and logistics such as delivery and collection methods. If the item is unavailable, the company will suggest an appropriate alternative.

‘Modern life doesn't really work the same way it did for previous generations: relationships, jobs, travel, growing families, finances. Today our circumstances change more regularly than ever,’ explains Henrietta Thompson, co-founder of Harth. ‘[Yet] the industry's answer is to force a choice: you buy long term investment pieces – which is why beige, grey and neutral designs are such best sellers – or you buy cheap, fun, disposable pieces, knowing you can change it without too much stress or cost.’

While acknowledging the importance of the sharing economy, the company hopes to change this by bringing flexibility to furniture, enabling customers to efficiently update their interiors.

This headset promises a cinematic viewing experience

Mixed-reality, Varjo

Global – Finnish technology brand Varjo has debuted a new headset that merges the real and virtual worlds to create the world’s first cinematic extended reality (XR).

The device displays ultra-high-resolution graphics that reflect the workings of a human eye. Since the human eye can only see a small area of focus at their highest resolution, the headset replicates this by prioritising the quality of the image based on where the user is focusing. To achieve this, the company developed two displays inside the headset. The first shows a full view of the virtual world in standard VR resolution while the second is a micro OLED panel that displays a small part of view but in much more detail.

As explored in last year's CES Review, brands are seamlessly merging the virtual and physical worlds. HTC launched its Vive Tracker, a small sensor that can be attached to an object to make it trackable in the virtual world. Intel also hinted at the future of VR with a fresh prototype of its Project Alloy headset.

REI encourages city-dwellers to get outdoors

US – Outdoor retailer REI is continuing its effort to reconnect city-dwellers with nature by announcing its investment of more than £455,000 ($603,000, €518,000) to re-wild five US cities this year.

Since 2015, the brand has held a commitment to provide better access to the outdoors for those living in cities. This latest investment will transform urban and suburban areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington into spaces for outdoor recreation. REI has partnered with local non-profits to create new trails and spaces, having reported that the average American spends 95% of their time indoors.

‘As more of the population moves to urban areas and cities continue to develop, it’s important to ensure there are outdoor spaces for people to enjoy the rewards and benefits of a life outdoors’, says Kristen Ragain, REI philanthropy and community partnership manager.

Liuzhou Forest City by Stefano Boeri Architetti, Italy

Lush develops a sustainable foundation

Slap Stick Foundation by Lush Slap Stick Foundation by Lush
Slap Stick Foundation, Lush Slap Stick Foundation, Lush

Global – Organic cosmetics brand Lush has expanded into the make-up aisle with a new range of solid foundations that are available in 40 shades.

The playfully named Slap Sticks are composed of 14% pigment and 45% Indonesian coconut oil, said to be similar to the skin’s natural sebum. In line with the brand’s values, the products are vegetarian, vegan and cruelty free, and are wrapped in a peelable wax covering as an alternative to heavily-packaged foundations. ‘Making [this] foundation a staple in many people’s daily routine is a major leap forward to reducing plastic packaging without compromising on quality or effect,’ says Rowena Bird, Lush co-founder and product inventor.

The new collection caters to a growing beauty audience who want to balance their passion for cosmetics and skincare without compromising on their sustainable or cruelty-free principles. For more, get to know the Beauty Backlashers tribe.

US shoppers are put off by technical glitches

With global fears of a retail apocalypse, brands are increasingly integrating advanced technology into stores to accommodate the digital consumer. And yet, a sizeable majority of consumers have experienced technological problems in-store, with 56% of consumers confessing they would go as far as filing an official complaint about their negative experience.

As technology becomes an integral part of the brick-and-mortar experience, retailers must ensure they are competent in executing advanced technology, particularly when 28% of consumers state that negative experiences would result in less frequent visits.

For tips on how to future-proof your store, explore our Storefront Salvation macrotrend.

Thought-starter: How are brands pushing fragrance to the next level?

Simplicity, experience and differentiation will define the expectations of the future fragrance consumer. Driven by independent brands, the niche fragrance market is leading the way in exploring these traits, with limited production and distribution emphasising their appeal.

But luxury conglomerate acquisitions and an increasing number of articlesmocking the ubiquity of once-enigmatic scents mean that niche brands are treading a fine line between commercial success and exclusivity. As a result, they are working to prove their place through imaginative, boundary-pushing formulations.

Following the ostentatious oud perfumes of the past decade, a new kind of fragrance is offering subtlety. Lingering close to the body, these ‘skin scents’ bring delicate, olfactory whispers – perfumes that provide comfort to the wearer through barely-there compositions. These perfumes also tap into Millennial consumers’ desire for quality, fuss-free products. Glossier’s first fragrance You, introduced in late 2017, was developed with ingredients chosen to smell like skin, while Nudiflorum by Dutch label Nasomatto provides ‘olfactory intimacy’ with a scent that is ‘an interpretation of a feeling of being touched’.

For more, see the full microtrend here.

Elevator Music by Byredo and Off-White
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