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Ikea launches stereo furniture, a private eco-luxury hotel in the desert and Americans resist the idea of a cashless society.

Milan 2019: Different Bodies aims to make design fully inclusive

Different Bodies by KADK, Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2019
Different Bodies by KADK at Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2019
Different Bodies by KADK at Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2019
Different Bodies by KADK, Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2019

Milan – Masters students from Danish university KADK put universal design on the agenda at this year’s Milan Design Week.

Working in collaboration with the Bevica Foundation, an organisation that works to improve social inequality of people with disabilities, the Different Bodies exhibition highlights how no body is the same, yet designers often cater to a standardised, average human being. This often excludes those that don’t fit the mould of this non-existent ‘perfect body’ and goes against one of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals: leaving no one behind.

The students personally experienced how those with disabilities navigate such surroundings through a series of workshops, applying the learnings to the exhibition. Its Skin Hunger area addressed how a lack of human-to-human touch can be detrimental to our wellbeing, with visitors invited to interact with a large, tactile membrane-like wall that reacted to their touch.

Different Bodies highlights how brands across all sectors need to ensure that inclusivity is not an add-on to innovation and design development, but engrained in all aspects of design from conception. For more on how creative practitioners are tacking inequality in design, read our Implicit Inclusivity design direction.

Milan 2019: IKEA and Sonos’ new speakers double as homeware

Symfonisk table lamp speakers, Ikea x Sonos Symfonisk table lamp speakers, Ikea x Sonos
Symfonisk table lamp and bookshelf speakers, Ikea x Sonos Symfonisk table lamp and bookshelf speakers, Ikea x Sonos

Milan – The furniture retailer and the electronics company have partnered to create a pair of hybrid speakers that are designed to blend into the home.

Launched at Milan Design Week 2019, the Symfonisk table lamp and bookshelf merge audio technology with home furnishing design. The base of the soft-glowing lamp doubles as a Sonos speaker, while the rectangular shelf – itself a speaker in nature – can be wall-mounted and used for displaying items. Both are also compatible with Sonos’ wireless sound system. ‘We knew from the start that we wanted to challenge traditional high-tech aesthetics,’ says Iina Vuorivirta, a designer at IKEA Sweden. ‘At the same time, we wanted to create something completely new.’

For more on how technology is being redesigned to quietly fit into the background of the home, look out for our upcoming Discrete Tech microtrend.

Galeries Lafayette hires influencers as salespeople

Paris – The renovated Galeries Lafayette department store, which re-opened in March 2019, has launched a digital-first training program for its shop-floor employees.

Dubbed the Retail Academy, the program will be used to train 300 personal stylists in lieu of salespeople, taking an omnichannel, digital-first approach ‘to guide employees through the change process underway as retail moves into the digital age'.

The personal stylists will be selected for their personalities and grasp of digital tools, with many already described as Instagram influencers. According to Galeries Lafayette, the employees will comprise a ‘connected community’ of branded influencers to advise customers on fashion, gastronomical and cultural trends.

To help build greater consumer trust and communicate authenticity, retail brands are turning their focus more to insider advocates – their very own employees – over external influencers.

Galeries Lafayette, Paris

This desert hotel is designed for extreme climates

Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates
Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates
Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates
Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates – The Al Faya Lodge is a luxurious hotel and spa designed to be booked out in its entirety.

Designed by Anarchitect, the five-room hotel is a new addition to the Sharjah Collection, a group of eco-retreats located throughout the Sharjah Emirate. The Al Faya Lodge is comprised of stone buildings which, in the 1960s, housed a clinic and a grocery store.

To renovate the traditional buildings for the high-end market, lead architect Jonathan Ashmore used strong, locally-sourced stone materials, as well as creating terraced decks and over-sailing roofs to protect the hotel from harsh climates. ‘Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure so it is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building,’ he says.

Hoteliers are building high-end eco-resorts that are designed to withstand extreme environments. For more on the future opportunities for eco-hospitality, read our Q&A with Snøhetta.

Stat: Americans are not in favour of a cashless society

Despite the global rise of mobile payments and cashless stores, nearly two-thirds of American consumers are not in favour of a cashless society, reports CivicScience. According to a recent survey by the marketing intelligence firm, one factor thought to be contributing to this resistance is the fact that cashless services require access to a bank account or credit card.

In 2017, a survey conducted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that 6.5% of US households were unbanked and a further 18.7% were considered underbanked, meaning they had access to a bank account, but obtained a range of financial products outside the banking system, such as money orders or payday loans.

Explore our Banking the Unbanked Market to learn more about how brands can use advances in technology to create more inclusive financial products and services.

Thought-starter: What’s shaping the future of wellness tourism?

Dervla Louli, founder of luxury booking portal Compare Retreats, discusses how stressful urban living and changing mindsets in Asia are driving new directions in wellness travel.

Compare Retreats is a booking portal and online publication for luxury wellness retreats. ‘I wanted to create a trusted platform to connect wellness travellers with the best retreats in the world – those that offer the results they promise,’ Louli explains.

She describe the rising demand for retreats that focus on simplicity and consuming less. ‘Silent and fasting retreats are two trends I'm watching closely at the moment. More and more of our clients are craving silence but don't have time or the desire to do a vipassana retreat, so we're developing something special to cater to their needs.'

Louli also notes that more consumers are being prescribed these types of retreats, potentially as an alternative to medicine. ‘Ayurveda and prescriptions to get outdoors in nature are already being integrated slowly into national health schemes, while government organisations are recognising nature as beneficial to mental and physical wellbeing.’

Read the full article here.

Compare Retreats
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