Need to Know
21 : 06 : 19

Confronting our social media-fuelled self-absorption, safe spaces for the LGBT+ community and Chinese rural regions signpost the future of work.

The Future Laboratory unveils Conscious Deceleration

Animation and illustration by Wang & Söderström. Animation by Bielke & Yang for Oslo Design Fair, 2019

London – The Future Laboratory's annual Health & Wellness Futures Forum was hosted at our Elder Street HQ on June 20, where we presented the trends set to shape the sector in the coming year.

From Precision Running to Life-stage Brands, we discussed how the continued merging of the health and wellness sectors is creating new opportunities for brands. We also launched our latest macrotrend, Conscious Deceleration, which explores how health-conscious consumers are looking for a more measured, long-term approach.

To bring the macrotrend to life, The Future Laboratory partnered with Blanch & Shock to create a slow food installation that turned our afternoon tea break into a mindful performance. Guests were invited to assemble their own dessert from five ingredients selected for their more considered relationship with time, including honey-fermented rhubarb with egg white amino and raw sugar sauce, which is the product of a three-month long chemical reaction.

Due to high demand, we have released a second date for our Health & Wellness Futures Forum at the Corinthia Hotel London on 11 July. Tickets are now available in The Future Laboratory Shop.

This exhibition confronts our self-absorption

Introversion Immersion by Tim Fishlock Introversion Immersion by Tim Fishlock
Introversion Immersion by Tim Fishlock Introversion Immersion by Tim Fishlock

London – Hosted at London’s Hang-Up gallery, Introversion Immersion is an exhibition that invites attendees to confront and question the impact of our social media on society.

Created by the artist Tim Fishlock, the show tackles the compulsions, narcissism and image overkill linked with social media platforms with 72 vibrantly coloured light boxes stacked from floor to ceiling and bearing bold statements that reflect the language used online, such as ‘enthuse’, ‘provoke’ and ‘debate’.

Challenging viewers to think about how they live and present themselves online, Fishlock has created a further six new paintings, entitled Satisfactory Living, unified by the repetition of the phrase ‘ME ME ME’. Speaking about the exhibition, Fishlock notes: ‘I began to wonder whether it’s people like me, the introverted, who are truly the most self-absorbed and self-centred.’

With Generation Z brought up with the internet, many young people are realising how apps such as Instagram are fuelling feelings of social anxiety, fear of missing out (FOMO) and alienation, driving them to reconsider their relationship with technology. For more, read our macrotrend Anxiety Rebellion.

A pair of headphones grown from microbial materials

Helsinki – Finnish studio Aivan has created a pair of headphones using materials grown by microbes.

Designed in collaboration with scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre, the Korvaa headphones feature six microbe-grown materials, demonstrating the potential of synthetic biology. Headphones were originally chosen as a showcase for these material innovations because of the variety of hard and soft materials needed to construct the product.

Each part of the headset features a different material grown from microbes. For example, the rigid plastic frame of the headphones is made from 3D-printed microbial bioplastic polylactic acid (PLA), while leather-like material used for the headset is fungal mycelium. The headset and the project documented in its entirety will be displayed at the Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale 2019 and during Helsinki Design Week 2019.

To learn more about the materials of tomorrow, read our Material Far Futures report.

Korvaa by Aivan

Eco-shoecare for conscious sneakerheads

The Future of Sneaker Care by Sneaker LAB

South Africa – Shoe laundry Sneaker Lab is tapping into the growth of sustainable footwear with a range of environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Described on its website as ‘the future of sneaker care’, the Johannesburg- and Los Angeles-based company is expanding on its bricks-and-mortar services to offer customers cleaning solutions to take home. Its 100% biodegradable products include an odour protector and a sneaker cleaning solution said to clean at a microscopic level for three days after application. Each is presented in recyclable packaging and has been independently tested and Green Tag-certified.

‘When I started Sneaker Lab, I was looking to the future to create a potential global brand and I wanted it to be environmentally sustainable,’ says founder Jo Farah. ‘We want to make a real difference to the world.’

With footwear a major culprit in landfill, owing to its use of plastics and chemically treated materials, the industry is beginning to embrace the rise of sustainable footwear, and with this, eco-friendly care products. For more, read our Sustainable Footwear Market.

Stat: LGBT+ youth prefer to seek mental health help digitally

A new report from LGBT+ advocacy non-profit organisation The Trevor Project finds that the majority of LGBT+ youth in the US prefer digital means of accessing mental health help. Just over two thirds said they would be extremely like to reach out to a crisis intervention organisation for support via chat, text message or instant message.

Of the 34,000 young people polled, 81% also noted that having an LGBT+ safe space online is very valuable to them, demonstrating the evolution of our Safe Spaces microtrend. Meanwhile, the survey’s results reflect how today’s youth are increasingly using digital tools to confront their negativities head-on, rather than relying on traditional therapy.

Thought-starter: Is rural China signposting the future of work?

China’s rural regions are driving the future of work, says Xiaowei Wang, with her project Postcards from the Ends of the Worlds.

Presented at IAM Weekend 19, Postcards from the Ends of the Worlds is focused on the impact of technology in rural China. ‘About 40% of China is rural – they still live in the countryside. So much writing about technology in China is about the cities, so I wanted to look at how people in the countryside are actually using technology on a day-to-day basis.’

Through the project, Wang explores the phenomenon of Taobao Villages, in which people in the countryside make things at home to then be sold on Taobao. ‘Everything from potato chips to costumes,’ she notes. ‘It’s attractive for Taobao parent company Alibaba, because of the fresh user data it gains. But it also works well for the government…This economic opportunity in the countryside helps to keep people there.’

Part of this changing approach to work, Wang notes, is down to the resilience of Chinese people. ‘Even though you see reports that say we'll lose our jobs due to automation, what's fascinating about China is that people will always find new jobs to make for themselves. It's really incredible.’

For more, read the full interview here.

Made in China Stickers at Huaqiangbei Electronics Market, Shenzhen, for Logic magazine
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