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Natoora brings chef-quality produce to consumers, a crypto-millionaire plans a smart city and Facebook enters the department store.

Natoora is a high-end grocery store offering seasonal produce

Natoora, London Natoora, London
Natoora, London Natoora, London
Natoora, London Natoora, London

London – The company that supplies London’s leading chefs with fresh produce has opened its first direct-to-consumer grocery store.

Natoora breaks free from the traditional design codes of supermarkets, using grey cement to create a sleek environment inspired by geology. Instead of organising its fruit and vegetables into categories, the produce is arranged according to its seasonal window – meaning shoppers are first greeted by early season produce, culminating in the discovery of a fermentation room at the back of the shop.

A refrigeration system means that the shop is constantly chilled to preserve the produce. The space also eschews plastic packaging, tapping into the growing movement towards zero-waste retail. While Natoora has long supplied high-end restaurants with ingredients, it is now determined to educate the general public about the importance of seasonality and transparency in food.

Look out for our new Food and Drink macrotrend Uprooted Diets, in which we explore the rise of local-first grocers such as Natoora.

A blockchain smart city for the Nevada desert

Blockchain city renderings by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture, Nevada Blockchain city renderings by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture, Nevada
Blockchain city renderings by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture, Nevada Blockchain city renderings by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture, Nevada

Nevada – Cryptocurrency millionaire Jeffrey Berns plans to create a ‘new kind of business and residential community’ powered by blockchain.

Known as Sandbox City, it will be built over 67,000 acres and will pioneer new uses for the technology in an urban environment, which will include houses, schools and a technology-driven park for Berns’ company Blockchains. Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture were enlisted to design renderings of the smart city, with communal living sites and civic centres.

‘Multiple innovative technologies will change the way its residents interact on a daily basis and blockchain technology will be at the centre of it all – keeping systems honest, fair and democratic,’ reads a statement on the Blockchains website.

For more on how the smart cities of the future will integrate technology to benefit citizens, explore our Far Futures vertical.

The Little Prince gets a gender-neutral translation

Argentina – Publishing company Ethos Traductora has released a gender-neutral version of the classic children’s book The Little Prince.

The Spanish language prioritises masculine pronouns. For example, the word for ‘children’ is ‘chicos’, which directly translates as 'boys'. Ethos Traductora’s version of the book uses the gender-neutral word ‘chiques’. This follows many people in Spanish-speaking countries calling for more inclusive language in literature that is neither masculine nor feminine.

‘Given the characters of the text… we decided to opt for the 'e' as a marker of non-sexist language, since it can be read aloud,’ Gabriela Villalba, director of Ethos, tells BioBioChile.

As traditional societies work to embrace Neutral Culture, terms such as ‘latinx’, which refers to Latin American people, have also become more widely used in business and media reporting, in order to be more inclusive of non-binary individuals.

Facebook enters the world of retail with Macy's pop-ups

Facebook pop-up store at Macy's, US

US – The social network is opening a number of physical pop-ups in Macy’s stores around the US.

The Market will feature products from 100 of its best-loved brands on Instagram and Facebook, including small businesses and digital start-ups. These include charitable companies such as Love Your Melon, an apparel line designed to raise awareness of paediatric cancer, and Two Blind Brothers, a non-profit-making organisation that helps to fund research into sight loss.

The aim of the project is to introduce emerging brands to new audiences. ‘We know the power of connecting businesses with the people who love them most, which is why we’re proud to play a role in expanding the communities of these businesses to in-store shoppers at one of the most beloved retail stores in the world,’ reads a press release from Facebook.

Following recent controversies surrounding user data, Facebook has been working to rectify its image problem by showing how it can benefit small businesses while surprising and delighting its users.

Stat: The British high street is declining

The British high street is in a state of despair, according to a study by PwC and the Local Data Company. The accountancy firm found that 2,692 stores shut across the UK in the first half of 2018, while only 1,569 stores opened. Affected most by the closures were fashion and electronics retailers, with more people buying these types of products online.

Italian restaurants are also showing signs of struggle, with chains like Jamie’s Italian, Strada and Prezzo each shutting stores in the past year. However, supermarkets, book stores, ice cream parlours and coffee shops have all increased their store count.

To find out how stores can use invisible technology to avoid the grip of the retail apocalypse, read our macrotrend Storefront Salvation.

Thought-starter: How is eco-anxiety affecting the children’s toy market?

With people ever-more aware of how their consumption affects the planet, toy brands are offering parents support in their quest to become more environmentally friendly, writes foresight writer Rhiannon McGregor.

With television programmes such as The Blue Planet and Drowning in Plastic having drawn attention to the estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris now polluting our oceans, consumers are increasingly keen to limit the environmental impact of their consumption habits.

However, with UK children under nine receiving about £350 ($450, €400) worth of toys each year, many of which are made from plastic, parents are looking to brands to deliver more environmentally friendly options. One solution is Whirli, a new subscription-based toy service that taps into the sharing economy.

While plastics have made toys cheaper and more accessible for families, this shift has also made them more dispensable psychologically. Toy brands such as Lego are alleviating the sense of guilt that can accompany this constant purchasing cycle by ensuring that the materials used to manufacture their toys are entirely sustainable.

The brand, which has pledged to design its entire range using plant-based bioplastic by 2030, introduced its first set of bricks made from the material earlier this year.

For more, read the full microtrend, Conscious Play.

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