Helsinki rewrites the rulebook on designing a public library
Helsinki – Oodi is a civic space that transforms the library into a technology-driven leisure hub for the local community.
The ideology behind public libraries is that they traditionally act as a meeting place for residents to read, work and study. The directors of Oodi, however, want to expand how the local community uses the space by incorporating a cinema, restaurant, recording studios and gaming room. The workshop, which includes 3D printers and laser cutters, also allows visitors to repair personal items or create their own.
Tommi Laitio, Helsinki’s executive director for culture and leisure, explained that the building is intended to be used as both a co-working space and a town square, as Helsinki often experiences extreme weather and so being outside for prolonged periods is not an option. ‘We have to make sure that libraries aren’t just relevant for people who can’t afford books or a computer,’ says Laitio.
UK – Creative recruitment site The Dots has introduced a new feature to help reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.
When turned on, the bias blocking tool can hide candidates’ personal data, such as name, photos and educational background, which can all impact their potential employability. ‘In the workplace, [unconscious bias] manifests in all sorts of terribly racist, sexist and classist ways,’ says Dan Harvey, head of product design and brand at The Dots. ‘Our core mission is to make the creative industries more open, diverse and inclusive.’
With companies such as the BBC and Deloitte now adopting blind recruitment practices, the move signals an increased awareness of the need to minimise unconscious bias in the hiring process as part of encouraging greater diversity in the workplace.
Digital tools to tackle other types of prejudice are also on the rise, with the Financial Times recently introducing a newsroom bot to address gender bias in its sources.
Chanel becomes first luxury brand to ban exotic animal skins
Paris – The luxury fashion house has announced it will cease to use lizard, crocodile, snake and other exotics pelts in its future products.
Handbags, shoes and clothes made from these materials are coveted luxury items, but Chanel cited challenges in sourcing the materials responsibly as a deciding factor in the decision. ‘It is becoming increasingly difficult to source exotic skins which match our ethical standards,’ the company said in a statement.
Various items have already reportedly been removed from Chanel’s e-commerce platforms, though it will take time for existing products to leave shops. Chanel’s head of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, said the company will now focus on developing leather and other materials from agri-food industries, with a view towards ‘inventing a new generation of ultra-luxurious products.’
As both consumers and brands rethink their use of fur and leather, new, alternative luxury materials are evolving. For more, read our Synthetic Leather market.
Fragrances could become anti-stress supplements
Functional Fragrance by The Nue Co
US – Wellness brand The Nue Co has created the first anti-stress supplement that can be worn as a fragrance.
Functional Fragrance is a unisex scent that can be used throughout the day, or at moments of high stress, to reset and recentre. In order to alter the emotional and physiological state of the fragrance’s wearer, the company utilised research from the Brain & Behaviour Laboratory at the University of Geneva. The resulting fragrance is designed to be accompanied by a breathing exercise.
‘When we looked at what was the science behind aromatherapy, we saw that there’s a huge amount of research that connects the olfactive system with our corpus callosum,’ says Jules Miller, founder and CEO of The Nue Co. It is the first fragrance to come from the wellness company, which is known for its ingestible supplements.
The concept of creating a mind-altering scent has moved beyond mere marketing jargon to become something more tangible. For more, read our microtrend Psychoactive Scents.
Stat: Movement to curb single-use plastics gains momentum
A new report from the United Nations surveys the global number of national policies to regulate the manufacturing, sale, use and disposal of single-use plastics. Findings show a significant increase in plastic bag bans worldwide, while many microplastic products remain largely overlooked by legislation. Only eight out of the 192 countries assessed (4%) have banned microbeads, for example.
The report follows shortly after Collins Dictionary named ‘single-use’ as its word of the year for 2018, reflecting the extent to which plastic pollution has risen to the top of the worldwide environmental agenda.
Greater consideration for the lifecycle of plastics can, however, present opportunities to use the material more thoughtfully. Earlier this year, designers at London Design Fair took a different approach to recycled plastic, spotlighting the materials’ overlooked potential.
Thought-starter: Who are the department store disruptors?
As stores with outdated value propositions continue to decline, foresight writer Alex Hawkins explores the new multi-brand retail formats that bridge the gap between digital-first products and physical spaces.
As we explored in our Storefront Salvation macrotrend, as part of the clicks-to-bricks movement, coveted direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands such as Everlane and Glossier are beginning to craft a physical presence by opening their own stores. Looking ahead, digital-first brands based in the US are expected to open 850 shops over the next five years.
Promoting the concept of ‘sell, shop, socialise’, Fourpost is a newly launched retail concept with outposts in two of North America’s largest shopping malls. By allowing DTC brands to lease space and set up studio shops in its stores, Fourpost’s curated retail destinations provide a flexible, efficient way for small brands to benefit from consumers’ desire to experience products in real life.
Neighborhood Goods in Plano, Texas, presents a showcase of DTC brands, with each paying a monthly fee for space on its 14,000-square-feet shop floor. Where the store is uniquely positioned, however, is in the way it targets tertiary markets and looks to bolster in-store experience through content and technology.