Need to Know
28 : 01 : 20

Kiki & Joost elevate solar tiles, tech giants unite on smart home standard and US wine consumption drops for the first time in 25 years.

The Sims makes a play for tiny homes

The Sims™ 4 Tiny Living

Global – The Sims is launching a Tiny Living Stuff Pack that will allow gamers to experiment with downsized living in their virtual worlds.

The Sims 4 add-on will allow gamers to connect virtually with the benefits of so-called tiny homes, which are considered a more ecological, less expensive and cosier way of living than traditional housing. Its creator EA Games is taking inspiration from the real-life trend for minimal living, bringing it into the gaming space and encouraging players to explore the potential of the tiny living movement.

Through the Tiny Living Stuff Pack, gamers are challenged to create homes with a reduced carbon footprint and lower bills, while creating more leftover garden space for the environment to flourish. The pack even includes multi-purpose 'murphy beds' that fold out from the walls, allowing gamers to temporarily convert virtual bedrooms into a living spaces.

With urban planners and architects unsure about the endless possibilities of our future cities, virtual platforms are becoming spaces where streets and cities can be redesigned, in particular with children and teens at the helm. We explore this idea further in our Kid Architects microtrend.

Kiki & Joost uplift the aesthetic of solar panels

Kiki & Joost Collection for MyEnergySkin Kiki & Joost Collection for MyEnergySkin
Kiki & Joost Collection for MyEnergySkin Kiki & Joost Collection for MyEnergySkin

Netherlands – Design duo Kiki & Joost have launched a range of patterned solar energy tiles as a way to brighten façades and roofs in urban architecture.

Created for Dutch company MyEnergySkin, they combine colour, material and finish with solar energy technology. The new line is designed to improve the aesthetic of the built environment, while also providing renewable energy. The collection consists of eight designs and includes two roof tiles and six façade modules.

Inspired by impressions from the natural world and weathered materials, the tiles emulate oxidised copper and iron through mottled colours and patina-like patterning, making them subtle and stylish while also elevating the purpose and appeal of solar panelling.

With global demand for energy proving to be relentless, both technology and architectural brands are launching initiatives focused on empowering a new subset of energy-efficient consumers. Discover the case studies and brands leading change in our Renewable Energy market.

Global tech brands unite for smart home standard

US – The Zigbee Alliance has joined forces with Apple, Google and Amazon to develop a smart home standard that means new devices are likely to be compatible with each other.

The standard aims to create unified connectivity that is open-source, royalty-free, and enables functionality between any variety of hubs and voice assistants. Recognising that consumers often want to use a variety of smart products from multiple brands in their homes, the concept was developed to create the ideal cross-brand environment, while also making it easier for manufacturers to develop new products.

Writing in a blog post about the alliance, Google vice-president of engineering Nik Sathe and Google Nest principal engineer Grant Erickson said: ‘While smart home devices are abundant, the lack of an industry-wide connectivity standard leaves people confused and frustrated when trying to understand what devices work with each smart home eco-system. It also places a heavy burden on manufacturers to make sure all devices are compatible with each other.’

For more on how technology will drive the ideas, innovations and products that will help shape the future of the home, explore our Home and Family vertical.

Google Home Google Home

Stat: US drinkers lose their thirst for wine

Wine consumption is falling for the first time in 25 years in the US, with volume sales down by 0.9% from 2018 to 2019, according to recent insight from IWSR.

Meanwhile, sales of spirits and ready-to-drink products increased by 2.3% and 49.7%, respectively, reflecting a 0.3% overall increase in alcohol consumption in the US in 2019. While the IWSR reports a rise in sparkling wine sales, which grew by almost 4% in 2019, it says the total fall in wine consumption can partly be attributed to a lack of interest in the drink among Millennials. According to Brandy Rand, chief operating officer for the Americas at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis: ‘Millennials are just not embracing wine with open arms compared to previous generations.’

As we uncover in our Natural Wine market, while still a small part of the global wine industry, natural wine producers have potential to reach Millennial drinkers by positioning niche producers and unusual flavours as something altogether alternative.

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