Need to Know
13 : 07 : 21

Layer designs a smart assistant with a personality, Leicester transforms bus stops into a network for bees and the UK fails to make healthy food accessible.

Ikea’s trash collection reframes waste

The Trash Collection 2021 by IKEA, Norway

Norway – The big-box retailer’s Trash Collection comprises reclaimed furniture that has been salvaged from the street and will be sold in a new second-hand store. Accompanied by a striking campaign created by Oslo-based agency Try, the adverts feature discarded Ikea items among piles of rubbish across Norway.

In addition to continuing Ikea’s efforts to become more sustainable, the campaign and its stark, anti-aspirational imagery are designed to raise awareness of the three million pieces of furniture thrown away each year in Norway. ‘Too much of our furniture end in the trash, and with this campaign we wanted to show how it doesn’t need to,’ says Tobias Lien, marketing communications manager at Ikea.

As such, the upcycled collection firmly establishes Ikea among a new generation of Second-hand Brands. By prompting consumers to think differently about the products they own and their lifecycle, the brand is demonstrating longer-term value of its homewares and promoting circularity.

Strategic opportunity

As the market for resale accelerates, brands have an opportunity and a responsibility to create new services that help consumers waste less

This smart assistant can express human emotions

Capsula Mini by Layer Capsula Mini by Layer
Capsula Mini by Layer Capsula Mini by Layer

Russia & UK – Design studio Layer has created an emotional assistant to engage a wider audience and improve familiarity with smart technology. Designed for Russian internet company, the voice and touch-activated device is the physical embodiment of brand’s current voice assistant Marusya.

The assistant, named Capsula Mini, uses an LED display system to represent a face, which then allows it to convey a number of emotions, from surprise and joy to sadness, in response to people’s interactions. According to Benjamin Hubert, founder of Layer, the assistant aims to make home technology more approachable, tapping into the anthropomorphic nature of Friend Bots. ‘It’s all about building a relationship with an object in the same way you would a pet for example,’ he tells Design Week.

Layer is rethinking robotic design by making a departure from the ‘serious nature of more conventional tech products’ and imbuing such smart assistants with fun, friendliness and humanity. As these devices continue to enter our homes, we can expect to see them develop a personality of their own.

Strategic opportunity

To make robotics less daunting to everyday consumers, technologists and designers should rebrand artificially intelligent home devices as sympathetic companions

In Leicester, bus stops have become bee sanctuaries

UK – Leicester City Council and Clear Channel are installing a network of plant-topped bus shelters as part of a major programme to replace and revamp the city’s bus stops. Nicknamed ‘Bee Bus Stops’, the citywide network of Living Roof and solar-powered shelters, the first for any UK city, are planted with a mix of wildflowers and Sedum plants to attract pollinating insects.

The work to revamp the city’s bus shelters feeds into Leicester’s ambitions to be a carbon neutral and climate-adapted city by 2030. As well as supporting Leicester’s declining bee population, the shelters are intended to positively contribute towards biodiversity and climate resilience, help to reduce the ‘Urban Heat Island Effect’, and capture carbon from the air.

Amid the rise of Equilibrium Cities, greening initiatives aim to allow future urban generations, nature and businesses to thrive together. The move to install environmentally conscious bus shelters across the entire city reflects growing awareness of how urban infrastructure can be improved for the benefit of the environment and the public.

Bee Bus Stops by Clear Channel & Leicester City Council Bee Bus Stops by Clear Channel & Leicester City Council
Bee Bus Stops by Clear Channel & Leicester City Council Bee Bus Stops by Clear Channel & Leicester City Council

Strategic opportunity

As urban spaces evolve to have a tangible and positive effect on the planet, there is an opportunity for brands to work with city councils and urban planners to roll out sustainable innovation at scale

Stat: The UK’s food system still has an equality problem

Happy Losers by Gustav Almestål for The Gourmand Happy Losers by Gustav Almestål for The Gourmand

The battle for everyone in the UK to have access to a healthy and sustainable diet is nowhere near completion, according to the Broken Plate Report by The Food Foundation. The state of the nation report reveals that much of the country’s unequal food system could be rooted in fast food infrastructure – 1 in 3 places to buy food are fast food outlets in the most deprived local authorities, compared with 1 in 5 in the least deprived.

This lack of access to affordable healthy food aligns with increased health complications for younger generations. The report found that 11-year-olds from the poorest 10% of households are ten times more likely to be living with severe obesity than the richest 10%. Highlighting the need for structural changes in the UK’s food environment, the report has been published ahead of the National Food Strategy, which will address the lack of progress made with urgent recommendations to the government.

While government intervention is necessary – and overdue – a number of food industry innovators are rolling out their own initiatives to inspire healthier eating habits among children. Discover what’s next for Healthy Kids Campaigns here.

Strategic opportunity

Food inequality is a structural problem that continues to impact current and future generations. Brands in the food sector should work to make healthy and plant-based options affordable, rather than waiting for government regulations to kick in

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