Need to Know
18 : 09 : 20

Autonomous vehicles that carry people and parcels, a stress-relieving drink for better sleep, and British shoppers aren’t boycotting unethical fashion brands.

Autonomous vehicle pods for people and freight

Autonomous vehicle by PriestmanGoode for Dromos Technologies, London Autonomous vehicle by PriestmanGoode for Dromos Technologies, London
Autonomous vehicle by PriestmanGoode for Dromos Technologies, London Autonomous vehicle by PriestmanGoode for Dromos Technologies, London
Autonomous vehicle by PriestmanGoode for Dromos Technologies, London Autonomous vehicle by PriestmanGoode for Dromos Technologies, London

London – Design studio PriestmanGoode is imagining the future of urban mobility with multi-purpose autonomous vehicles.

Catering for myriad urban use cases – be it public transport or inner-city freight and deliveries – the studio is working with autonomous network transit (ANT) company Dromos Technologies to develop a future-facing electric vehicle network.

According to PriestmanGoode, the vehicles offer ‘accessible minimalism’, and would run on demand, as requested by citizens, with their own dedicated infrastructure. They also boast environmental benefits, including carbon-neutrality at the point of use.

‘This type of mass-transit has become even more relevant now. Not only does it answer the first and last mile problem, which is one of the key issues we’re always trying to solve in public transport, but it’s also particularly suitable for a post-pandemic world where passengers are more concerned about hygiene and safety,’ explains Paul Priestman, designer and chairman of PriestmanGoode.

Public transport is experiencing global decline in the wake of the pandemic, making space for urban mobility innovations that are conscious of health, population density and the environment.

Seaweed U gives algae a flavour injection

Seaweed U by Wenwen Fan in collaboration with Jakub Radzikowski, London Seaweed U by Wenwen Fan in collaboration with Jakub Radzikowski, London
Seaweed U by Wenwen Fan in collaboration with Jakub Radzikowski, London Seaweed U by Wenwen Fan in collaboration with Jakub Radzikowski, London

London – Seaweed U is using natural flavourings and dyes to make algae more palatable for Western consumers.

Through a series of films showing how seaweed can be eaten alone as a snack or used as a protective wrapper for other foodstuffs, the company aims to be both educational and experiential for algae-curious individuals.

The micronutrient and vitamin-rich wraps can be bought online, with shoppers able to personalise their order based on flavour and product preference. Its Lazy Pouch, for example, is a seaweed pocket that can be made with a kelp, grape or carrot-flavoured seaweed, filled with additional ingredients and dissolved into noodle dishes.

Created by multidisciplinary experience designer Wenwen Fan and culinary education designer Jakub Radzikowski, the nutritious seaweed food is designed to change the perception by some people that the sustainable superfood is green and slimy.

Sustainable and edible packaging solutions such as Seaweed U are pushing us towards the future of food innovation. Explore Material Far Futures for more inspiring material case studies.

PepsiCo’s night-time drink for soothing sleep

US – Driftwell is designed to be enjoyed before bed and help consumers unwind.

Described as an 'enhanced water beverage', the miniature canned drink is gently flavoured with blackberry and lavender – a combination said to be inspired by beverages served at spas.

Active ingredient L-theanine, an amino-acid found in green and black teas, is included to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Meanwhile, the drink also contains 10% of the recommended daily value of magnesium to support the body’s natural circadian functions.

An alternative to PepsiCo’s caffeinated drinks, the idea for Driftwell came from an internal ideation competition hosted by the company last year. Emily Silver, vice-president of innovation and capabilities at Pepsi North America, said: ‘From a scientific and regulatory perspective, we feel really good about making that claim around L-theanine. Specifically, we have safety in clinical data to prove that it works.’

Food and beverages designed to aid sleep are evolving from a niche to a mainstream product, with PepsiCo positioning this as a commercial night-time aid. For more food and drink examples, read our Sleep Eats microtrend.

Driftwell by PepsiCo, US Driftwell by PepsiCo, US

Stat: UK shoppers’ ethical fashion paradox

Otrium, The Netherlands Otrium, The Netherlands

According to a new survey by YouGov, only a minority of Britons are boycotting fashion brands that treat their staff poorly.

During the pandemic, light has been shed on harmful practices across a number of UK textile factories. Following this, a recent YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people reports that two in five (44%) believe worker exploitation is common in UK factories. Yet, despite being aware of the poor conditions that workers face daily, only three in 10 Britons (31%) have stopped buying clothes from a brand because of such scandals.

While Millennials and Generation Z are usually praised for their moral approach to such matters, only a third of 18–24-year-olds (33%) surveyed have boycotted a clothing brand – just three percentage points more than Baby Boomers.

At a time when cancel culture is thriving, brands must nevertheless ensure they acknowledge and positively address business failures in order to align with the growing socio-politically conscious consumer mindset.

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