Need to Know
13 : 06 : 22

Layer and Deutsche Telekom’s discreet devices for the home, a luxury hotel retreat offering post-natal care and buy-now, pay-later saddles Gen Z with debt.

MDW: Connectivity devices that blend into the home

Connectivity Concept by Layer and Deutsche Telekom, Italy
Connectivity Concept by Layer and Deutsche Telekom, Italy
Connectivity Concept by Layer and Deutsche Telekom, Italy

Italy – Connectivity Concept is a new range of six smart telecom products that are designed to complement home interiors, including a router, a soundbar with a detachable webcam, a set-top box and a remote control.

Envisaging the future of more discreet interfaces in the home, design studio Layer and Deutsche Telekom have joined forces for the collection, presented at Salone del Mobile Milano 2022. Designs include a mesh repeater for extending wifi that mimics a decorative item made from timber, but when touched it displays information via an LED matrix. The set-top box and soundbar, which is an all-in-one media hub, is inspired by hand-crafted ceramics to blend into modern home settings. The remote control is self-balancing and has a large trackpad that provides maximum control when navigating streaming apps.

‘Connectivity devices are an increasingly important element of the home and how we live – yet, they often don’t truly reflect our highly valued home environments. Connectivity Concept takes important products intrinsic to our day-to-day and introduces a sense of craftsmanship,’ explains Benjamin Hubert, founder of Layer.

Strategic opportunity

When designing future-facing electronics, consider how shape, materiality and interfaces can transform them into functional decorations, as opposed to cluttering, noticeable devices

MDW: Écal’s immersive future for music listening

ASMR Instruments by Ka Yin Cheung for Design Laboratory in collaboration with Écal and Yamaha, Italy ASMR Instruments by Ka Yin Cheung for Design Laboratory in collaboration with Écal and Yamaha, Italy
Sound Frame by Jisan Chung for Design Laboratory in collaboration with Écal and Yamaha, Italy Sound Frame by Jisan Chung for Design Laboratory in collaboration with Écal and Yamaha, Italy

Italy – Students studying Product Design at Écal (University of Art and Design Lausanne) are using the occasion of Salone Del Mobile Milano 2022 to re-invent music sound systems for the Transformative Twenties.

Created in collaboration with Yamaha and its Design Laboratory, the students were tasked with documenting different contemporary processes of listening to music and applying their findings into the creation of new music playback that fosters relevance and innovation for a new generation of music listeners.

With the help of specialists from Yamaha in Japan, six projects were finalised and made into prototypes. Focusing on how sound and music exploration can be built into wellbeing practices, Ka Yin Cheung created ASMR Instruments, a listening device that creates soothing moments for listeners through relaxing sounds, free from distracting digital screens and videos that often accompany ASMR tracks. Sound Frame by Jisan Chung taps into memories and emotions through a speaker that allows people to listen to music through their favourite objects.

Audio and music are emerging as the next frontiers in holistic wellbeing. For more, explore our Music As Medicine microtrend to understand the positive effects of incorporating sounds into brand strategy.

Strategic opportunity

Audio is becoming a sensorial experience, especially in health, wellness and retail spaces. How might your business harness sound to enhance your products, spaces or brand experiences?

This postnatal retreat eases women into motherhood

New York – Recognising that early motherhood is a challenging life stage, the Boram Postnatal Retreat is creating a space for new mothers to receive support and post-birth rejuvenation.

Located on the ninth floor of the five-star Langham Hotel in New York, the retreat provides a luxurious hotel experience in combination with physical and mental postnatal care. Alongside certified nursing support for new babies, the retreat provides mothers with holistic wellness services such as postnatal massages, lactation assistance and foot baths.

A lounge area doubles as a community space, offering group seminars for new mothers to receive advice around pelvic floor therapy and sleep. Through this environment, the retreat responds to the demand for more postnatal wellbeing services that exist outside of medical spaces. As Boram Nam, co-founder of Boram Postnatal Retreat, says: ‘We are there to ease the transition between the hospital and home.’

While we’ve previously explored the products and services supporting women through key life stages from adolescence to menopause, this retreat points to a future when more wellness brands will specifically cater for postnatal needs.

Boram Postnatal Retreat, US

Strategic opportunity

Looking ahead, consider how your brand might create more accessible postnatal services in the wellbeing space. Hospitality venues from hotels to restaurants could create services specifically for new mothers

Stat: Pay later schemes are driving Gen Z into debt

Smoooth Devices PayLater by Klarna, UK Smoooth Devices PayLater by Klarna, UK

Buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) schemes are driving young people into debt. According to research by Citizens Advice, 51% of 18–34-year-olds in the UK have resorted to borrowing money to pay outstanding BNPL fees.

Although younger consumers are the most likely to take out a loan, 39% of 35–54-year-olds have also borrowed money to repay BNPL debt. Overdrafts, borrowing from friends and relatives, payday loans and credit cards were among the various borrowing methods, with the latter the most common (26%). Of notable concern, more than one in 10 BNPL clients did not fully comprehend how the repayments would be set up when entering the agreement. ‘Most of the people I speak to who are using buy-now, pay-later live off overdrafts and credit cards, so are using these for repayments. It’s just relying on one debt to pay off another debt,’ explains Millie Harris, debt adviser at Citizens Advice.

Although the BNPL market continues to grow at breakneck speed, the sector remains largely unregulated. Generation Z, who account for the bulk of the market, are among those suffering the most from debt.

Strategic opportunity

Instead of leaving education in the hands of BNPL companies, banks, retailers and brands must actively warn consumers about the risks of such schemes

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