Need to Know
11 : 08 : 21

Google’s latest design language celebrates personal preferences, IKEA integrates air purification into homewares and stark warnings about the climate crisis.

Google’s Material You personalises digital interfaces

Material You by Google, global

Global – The technology giant is enabling people to customise their digital interfaces through a design language called Material You. Available on all devices that run on the Android 12 operating system, the update allows users to tailor the visual appearance on their phone and tablet screens. Focusing on accessibility, users can control the contrast, size and line width of icons; they can also add personal images and choose their own colour palette.

Through this approach, Google recognises the importance of personalisation in technology – both for general user engagement and for accessibility needs. ‘Material You explores a more humanistic approach to design,’ explains the company in a blog post. ‘One that celebrates the tension between design sensibility and personal preference, and does not shy away from emotion.’

Elsewhere, social media platform Facebook has also experimented with more personal approaches to digital interfaces. Its platform avoids cookie cutter templates to enable space for self-expression. As creative director Matthew Jones posits, designers must embrace such risky tactics to avoid homogenising design.

Strategic opportunity

Both hardware and software brands must design with adaptability in mind. To reach a wider range of consumers, actively spotlight the ways that your products can be altered to suit different needs and interests

Sparkling tea wine delivers ready-to-drink relaxation

For Chill designed by low key Design For Chill designed by low key Design
For Chill designed by low key Design For Chill designed by low key Design

China – With some drinkers seeking tipples that have functional benefits, brewer AB InBev is launching a low-alcohol, sparkling tea wine for Chinese consumers. Dubbed For Chill, the ready-to-drink tea is made from concentrated tea powder combined with wine. Its branding, by design agency Low Key Design, features illustrations centred around characters called Fookis.

Communicating the idea of providing a relaxing and comfortable drinking experience, the Fookis are shown in a ‘weightless floating city enjoying daily urban life such as music, sports and lying around.’ Here, the brand captures the idea that drinking alcohol can induce a sense of calm and doesn’t need to be associated with hedonism or excess.

Since 2015, we’ve been tracking the rise of Tipsy Tea, as drinks brands recognise the health benefits of replacing sugar-laden mixers with natural tea leaves. Looking ahead, this category is set for growth as the ready-to-drink market evolves to usher in new opportunities for health-minded Millennial and Generation Z consumers.

Strategic opportunity

Food and drinks brands looking to offer healthier options should respond to regional taste preferences when combining unexpected flavours. Embrace storytelling to communicate the positive emotions associated with health-conscious choices

IKEA’s discreet air purifier for healthy homes

US & Sweden – Homeware brand IKEA is making air purifiers more accessible for a wider range of consumers with its latest addition to its smart home range. Its STARKVIND air purifier is available in two versions: a standalone design and another that doubles as a side-table, making it easy to integrate into small living spaces. Using a three-filter system and five fan speeds, the device can capture pollutants from dust to pollen.

By integrating air purification technology into designs such as side-tables, IKEA introduces anti-pollutant homewares in a convenient and versatile way. ‘For IKEA, the smart home is not about gadgets,’ comments Henrik Telander, product owner at IKEA. ‘It’s about making life and home better through combining our solid home furnishing knowledge with digital solutions and technology.’

As pollution continues to be a key concern for consumers, such in-built filtration systems allow people to control their home environments through discreet furniture additions. For more, read our interview with Dyson’s product development director Paul Dawson, to find our why today’s home owners care about air.


Strategic opportunity

In future, all homeware brands must consider personal and environmental health concerns at the R&D phases of creating new brands. Propose dual-purpose solutions that have an aesthetic quality along with housing health benefits

Stat: Global warming is becoming unstoppable

Parc de la Distance by Precht Parc de la Distance by Precht

While the climate crisis has been a growing concern across all sectors in recent years, the latest report by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) quantifies the drastic rates at which global temperatures are rising.

The landmark report, which culminates data from more than 60 countries, reveals that the world is likely to temporarily reach 1.5°C of warming within the next 20 years. This figure is predicted even in a best-case scenario of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Having been signed off by 234 scientists, the report states that without ‘immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions’ in emissions, curbing global warming to either 1.5°C or even 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 would be ‘beyond reach’.

Brands and organisations must drive efforts to combat environmental change. For more, explore our Climate Crisis series.

Strategic opportunity

Brands must make their climate pledges immediately actionable to make it through the next decade without consumer backlash. Work with climate experts to create realistic and impactful environmental goals

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