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15 : 01 : 21

An app that delivers premium goods in minutes, Polymateria’s harmless plastic and the UK’s affluent home-owners drive demand for country abodes.

FastAF accelerates premium product delivery

FastAF by Darkstore, US

US – The new platform and app aims to speed up delivery times for premium products to an average of 27 minutes.

Conceived by logistics service Darkstore, FastAF offers a variety of products, listing drugstore items and pantry staples alongside a curated selection of branded goods. It's partnering with companies including Nike, Sonos, Outdoor Voices, Glossier and Copper Cow Coffee to bring covetable items straight to suburban shoppers' doors. The delivery service is also free for customers who spend over £25 ($35, €28).

As well as enabling more sales through its advanced logistics network, FastAF also provides sales insights for its partner brands. ‘Not only do we create a new sales channel for them, but we also provide data as well as our key two-hour delivery of products,’ explains Lee Hnetinka, CEO of FastAF. Regarding the analytics, he adds: '[It's] a window into sales and value of goods sold per unique profile.’

With delivery services increasingly essential for consumers who might be hesitant or unable to venture into city centres, speed and efficiency remain highly valued. For more on supply chains and urban logistic innovations, explore Flagship Fulfilment.

The Oval mall unites art and independent brands

The Oval by Dowell Commercial, China The Oval by Dowell Commercial, China
The Oval by Dowell Commercial, China The Oval by Dowell Commercial, China

China – Real estate firm Dowell Commercial has opened The Oval, a multi-use complex that combines retail, leisure, art exhibitions and wellbeing.

Aiming to influence surrounding citizens' urban lifestyles, the Chongqing-based development is peppered with public art, and includes residential homes and a retail space curated to sell fashion from independent brands.

The Oval's exhibitions are set to showcase work by foreign and domestic creatives, while digital versions of the art will be created for virtual exhibitions hosted by the mall. Beyond its retail and art focus, The Oval’s living facilities boast a children’s playground, a skate park and bowling alley to bring leisure and wellbeing aspects to residents.

By incorporating more than just retail into the offer, The Oval seeks to future-proof the mall at a time when retail groups are being challenged to create points of difference. Operating under the mantra ‘Enjoy life’, Dowell Commercial's unification of art, active living and commerce aims to align with the more creative lifestyles of younger Chinese urbanites.

Similar to this, in Experiential Luxury Malls we explore how shopping complexes are being re-imagined through artistic activations.

This additive biodegrades plastic in one year

UK – Materials company Polymateria has created a solution to biodegrade plastic waste quickly and safely.

Its proprietary additive can be added during the manufacturing stage of items like straws, bottles or food wrappers and, based on external testing, helps to break down the plastic within 226–336 days, leaving behind a harmless wax-like substance.

The process is described as an eco-friendly alternative to recycling plastic as it creates less pollution, transforming plastics made with the additive into organic elements like carbon dioxide and oxygen.

The team at Polymateria believe that this innovation will reform the UK's plastic use, and will make a tangible difference in tackling the nation's plastic problem head on. Already, the additive is garnering interest, with sports brand Puma set to use it for the manufacturing of its shopping bags. Polymateria also plans to roll out testing of its additive in Asia to tackle polluting plastic polymers.

Discover more groundbreaking ideas that tackle green issues in our Sustainability series.

Plastic, neutral by Humankind

Stat: UK affluents boost sales of country homes

Arriving at the Center House by Third Nature, Structured Environment and Henrik Innovation Arriving at the Center House by Third Nature, Structured Environment and Henrik Innovation

Prices of luxury country homes in the UK increased significantly in 2020, with many affluent consumers choosing to invest in properties with more outdoor space and workplace flexibility.

According to research by property consultancy Knight Frank, the number of house sale offers accepted by the close of the year was 37% above the five-year average, despite the impact of lockdown periods as a result of the pandemic. Overall, prices of properties worth £1m ($1.3m, €1.12m) or more rose by 4% in 2020, marking the best performance in more than six years.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by the consultancy in the summer of 2020 found one in four people are more likely to move house in the next 12 months as a result of the pandemic and its continued impact.

Around the world, city dwellers are re-examining their living spaces, looking to the countryside for space and room for work, rest and play. For more, explore our Rural Luxury Market.

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