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VASHI store breaks down luxury barriers, meat lovers get 24/7 access to freshly-cut steak, Uber bikes to combat city congestion.

VASHI opens a transparent retail space in Selfridges

VASHI, Selfridge's Wonder Room, London
VASHI, Selfridge's Wonder Room, London
VASHI, Selfridge's Wonder Room, London

London – The bespoke diamond jeweller is placing the customer centre-stage at its new boutique housed within Selfridges department store London.

With glass walls providing passers-by with a clear view into the space, customers are encouraged to directly participate in the creation of a piece of diamond jewellery, with VASHI allowing them to be involved from the initial design of a piece, through to the diamond selection and stone setting. Jewellery workbenches are positioned in the centre of the boutique to give customers insight into how a diamond ring is made, while display units allow them to explore various styles, finishes and metals and hand-pick loose diamonds. VASHI craftsmen, known as Alchemists, will be on site to make pieces or live or undertake resizing of jewellery for customers to take away.

This open approach to fine jewellery retail comes at a time when luxury brands are exploring concepts focused on exploration and personalisation, as exemplified by Tiffany & Co.’s recently-opened Covent Garden boutique in London, which features an on-the-spot jewellery engraving and leather embossing bar.

A meat vending machine for busy lifestyles

The Applestone Meat Company vending machines, New York, photography by Jennifer May The Applestone Meat Company vending machines, New York, photography by Jennifer May
The Applestone Meat Company vending machines, New York, photography by Jennifer May The Applestone Meat Company vending machines, New York, photography by Jennifer May

US – The Applestone Meat Company has debuted several vending machines around upstate New York, each filled with a variety of meat choices including beef, pork, lamb, as well as sausages.

The company launched the venture in an effort to increase accessibility of high-quality meat for busy city-dwellers. Utilising existing machines that have been retrofitted for meat vending, each has enough room to house individually-packaged cuts of meat, while storing them at safe temperatures for up to seven days in the case of steak.

Josh Applestone, founder of the Applestone Meat Company, says the machines were created in response to modern living. ‘We’re not in the 1950s anymore, where everyone works 9 to 5 and eats at the same time every night, he explains in an interview with Bloomberg. ‘Life is chaotic at best.’

Applestone hopes that by providing 24/7 access to high-quality meat, the company can bring greater convenience to the lives of time-pressed consumers.

To discover how selling spaces are evolving from traditional grocery stores to micro-retail, explore our recent trend.

Uber wants to drive the future of bike-sharing

Global – The ride-sharing platform has announced plans to shift its focus from cars to electric bikes and scooters for shorter journeys in cities.

With pollution and congestion still pressing issues in global cities, Uber is set to take a cut short-term profit to encourage more environmentally conscious behaviour among its users. ‘During rush hour, it is very inefficient for a one-tonne hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks,’ says Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, in an interview with the Financial Times. ‘We’re able to shape behaviour in a way that’s a win for the user. It’s a win for the city. Short-term financially, maybe it’s not a win for us, but strategically long term we think that is exactly where we want to head.’

Since adding e-bikes to its app in February, Uber has acquired the bike-sharing company Jump, which is now available in eight major US cities including New York and Washington, and is soon to launch in Europe. It follows a slew of app-based bike sharing schemes from companies including Ofo, Pony Bikes and Mobike.

Read our dedicated article for more on how bicycle schemes are fighting pollution in China.

Pedros Bikes, New York

A new contender for just-walk-out retail

Zippin, San Francisco

San Francisco – Tech start-up Zippin has launched a new automated grocery store to demonstrate how major brands could create seamless shopping experiences for their customers.

Situated in San Francisco’s SOMA neighbourhood, the concept store uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and visual cognition technology to enable consumers to shop without manually checking out. Echoing AmazonGo, Zippin’s software-as-a-service technology is designed as a white label product for grocery and convenience retailers to brand as their own.

‘With Zippin, traditional retailers can now compete against e-commerce companies, which until now have had the advantage of leveraging a host of key data about their customers,’ says Krishna Motukuri, CEO and co-founder of Zippin.

With greater demand for convenience, a new generation of stores are facilitating automated commerce for time-pressed consumers. As a result, Zippindescribes its use-cases as infinite, noting that airport retail, hotel lobbies and gas stations are other future spaces where its just-walk-out software could be used.

Stat: Convenience and health shape US evening meals

According to a recent survey by marketing and consultancy firms Acosta and Technomic, most Americans are indecisive about their evening meal choices leading to many choosing convenience foods from restaurants, takeaways or prepared meal kits.

In the three months leading up to the survey, 51% of US diners and 77% of Millennials reported ordering food for home delivery. And yet, health remains an important factor for most, with almost half of Millennials and those with families stating they opt for healthier options when ordering from a restaurant or delivery menu.

For more, read our Eating In and Dining Out Market.

Thought-starter: What are the materials of the future?

From fabrics that generate power through motion to food packaging that understands its contents, the materials of tomorrow will be smarter, stronger, more dynamic and less ecologically damaging.

Today’s world is defined by material excess. If, as predicted, the global population reaches 9.6bn by 2050, we will require almost three planets worth of natural resources to sustain current lifestyles, according to the UN. We therefore need to drastically re-assess what we use to create the products that power today’s globalised economy.

For our latest report, Material Far Futures, The Future Laboratory has compiled the most transformative case studies in material innovation into 10 paradigms that we believe will disrupt industry in the coming decades: Programmable, Self-healing, Generative, Transformative, Genetically Engineered, Transient, Indicative, Purifying, Augmented, and Analytical.

Alongside assessing these 10 vital themes, we’ve also identified and interviewed leading innovators whose work is driving this materials revolution. These include Puma’s global director of innovation Charles Johnson, who is examining the potential of bacterial feedback systems, and Goodyear’s senior industrial designer Sébastien Fontaine and principal engineer Claude Boes, who are exploring new contexts for biodesign.

Download your copy of the Material Far Futures report here.

Envisioning Material Far Futures: Genetically Engineered by Studio Brasch for The Future Laboratory
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