Need to Know
21 : 10 : 19

Subjective algorithms at Dutch Design Week, a US jewellery retailer offering Insta-weddings at its stores, and US consumers seek brandless brands.

Dutch Design Week 2019: An algorithm that gives objects meaning

Still Life by Vera van der Burg, Design Academy Eindhoven at Dutch Design Week 2019
Still Life by Vera van der Burg, Design Academy Eindhoven at Dutch Design Week 2019
Still Life by Vera van der Burg, Design Academy Eindhoven at Dutch Design Week 2019

Eindhoven – The project explores how we can train machine-learning algorithms to become more emotional.

In her project Still Life, Vera van der Burg trains a speculative algorithm with a highly subjective set of rules to emulate a human understanding of objects. These algorithms ambiguously learn from patterns in large data sets and interpret a still life photograph through emotional values such as love, jealousy and seduction.

With AI becoming more pervasive in changing human behaviour, consumers are becoming more inquisitive about the ethics powering our data systems. In a similar vein to Trevor Paglen’s From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly’ (Pictures and Labels) exhibition, Van der Burg explores how machine-learning systems are biased by the programmers behind them. In a statement about how self-learning algorithms are often a reflection of their subjective values, the object-recognition algorithm in Still Life is a reflection of Van der Burg and her tastes.

To learn more about algorithmic ethics and how to use design cues to harness machine-learning systems, read our Morality Recoded macrotrend.

Carlsberg unveils the world’s first paper beer bottles

Carlsberg Green Fibre Bottle Carlsberg Green Fibre Bottle
Carlsberg Green Fibre Bottle Carlsberg Green Fibre Bottle

Copenhagen – The fully recyclable Green Fibre Bottle is made from sustainably sourced wood fibres.

During the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, the Carlsberg Group unveiled two new research prototypes of the bottle. While the outer packaging is made from sustainably sourced wood fibres, each has an inner barrier to allow the bottles to contain beer. One prototype uses a thin recycled PET polymer film barrier while the other uses a 100% bio-based PEF polymer.

The prototypes will be used to test the barrier technology as Carlsberg seeks to achieve its ambition of a 100% bio-based bottle without polymers. ‘While we are not completely there yet, the two prototypes are an important step towards realising our ultimate ambition of bringing this breakthrough to market,’ says Myriam Shingleton, vice-president of group development at Carlsberg. ‘Innovation takes time and we will continue to collaborate with leading experts in order to overcome remaining technical challenges.’

Carlsberg is just one brand responding to environmental concerns with material innovations that re-invent bottled drinks.

This jeweller is offering on-the-spot weddings

US – Helzberg Diamonds is taking convenient service to a new level by inviting couples to get legally married at any of its jewellery stores.

Its Hitched at Helzberg service was launched in response to a survey of 1,000 Millennials carried out by the retailer, which found that 91% would consider eloping to get married. The top three reasons were to save money (59%), avoid having to plan the ceremony (46%) and to keep the ceremony more intimate (43%).

In response, Helzberg is ordaining 200 of its retail staff to be able to carry out on-the-spot ceremonies for couples shopping in its stores. ‘We listen to our customers, and know that many wish to modernise current wedding traditions,’ says Beryl Raff, chairman and CEO of Helzberg Diamonds. ‘We wanted to become the destination that could, and would, officiate for these couples in a relaxed and comfortable environment.’

Not only does Helzberg’s approach tap into modern consumers’ desire for convenience, it also supports those looking for bridal services that don’t conform with tradition, something explored in our Non-conformist Weddings microtrend.

Helzberg Diamonds Elope Here, US

Stat: Own-brand products are thriving in the US

Own-brand products are booming in the US market, according to a new report by Coresight Research. The study found that annual sales growth of private-label consumer products accelerated from 2.2% in 2015 to 5.8% in 2018, growing faster than national brand sales by a factor of four.

According to the report, Target and Kroger recently stepped up their game in private-label goods, competing with the likes of Aldi, Lidl and Amazon. ‘The presence of grocery discounters such as Aldi and Lidl has a meaningful impact on private label’s share of a country’s overall CPG market,’ the report states.

The concept of Accessible Premium is permeating in the US, as consumers reject big-name brands in favour of inexpensive, brandless alternatives.

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