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MAD raises the bar on social housing in Beijing, Walmart improves food access for seniors, and French luxury consumers drive conscious shopping.

MAD elevates social housing with a floating park

Courtyard Kindergarten by MAD Architects, Beijing

Beijing – Architecture studio MAD is breathing new life into conventional social housing, with a development in Beijing that connects 12 residential buildings by raised walkways and a floating park. The development in east Beijing, Baiziwan, is divided by roads into six areas that contain multiple apartment blocks. Unlike other housing solutions in the area, Baiziwan focuses on prioritising access to nature and communal areas.

The complex’s floating park features a looping red walking and running track, gyms, a badminton court, children's playgrounds, an eco-farm and a service centre. Each of these amenities are only accessible to residents, with the aim to bolster the livelihoods of people living in the complex. ‘[It is] very different from commercial housing, the apartment size is much smaller in social housing and you also have to control the cost,’ said Ma Yansong, founding partner at MAD. ‘By opening up the complex, increasing green space and vertical layout, it helps to improve people's sense of space.’

By embedding a focus on community and wellbeing, this project points to a future when urban areas will be increasingly designed to balance the needs of people and the planet.

Strategic opportunity

Urban developers should consider creating similar nature-focused and communal areas as part of buildings such as schools and hospitals

Sneakers made from invasive lionfish

P448 sneakers by Inversa Leathers, Paris P448 sneakers by Inversa Leathers, Paris
P448 sneakers by Inversa Leathers, Paris P448 sneakers by Inversa Leathers, Paris

Florida – Sustainable material start-up Inversa Leathers is on a mission to tackle invasive species while offering an alternative to exotic premium leathers. Its latest product launch arrives in partnership with Italian sneaker label P448, in the form of a pair of shoes created with lionfish, an invasive species that has been decimating marine wildlife habitats across the Pacific Ocean.

The sneakers, which are available in five colours, align with P448’s streamlined, understated and clean aesthetic. Besides the dyed fish leather on the heel of the shoe, there is no way to identify that it has been made using an invasive species. By creating a desirable product using lionfish leather, Inversa Leathers is also supporting communities most affected by the species.

‘A lot of the geographies, especially the lower-income Caribbean area, have no market at all [for lionfish] – and so this fish is not only destroying the coral reefs, which sustain these fishing cooperatives’ livelihoods, but they also can’t do anything about it, says Aarav Chavda, CEO of Inversa Leathers. While we have previously seen the use of plant-based leather alternatives, this innovation represents a new direction for material futures.

Strategic opportunity

Beyond plant-based alternatives, how can your company explore the opportunities that come with invasive species?

Walmart coordinates grocery needs for ageing relatives

US – The retailer is partnering with senior care app Avanlee Care to help families remotely coordinate grocery orders. While the app currently focuses on care coordination, medication adherence, and health and mood monitoring, Walmart is stepping in to integrate grocery fulfilment – recognising this as a key element in providing holistic care.

Through this partnership, Walmart is elevating its existing delivery services to suit the needs of seniors and their families. ‘Integrating online grocery ordering and delivery from Walmart into Avanlee Care further helps our care-givers access everything they need to support an ageing relative in one place,’ says Avanlee Christine, CEO and founder of Avanlee Care. ‘The delivery status tracking gives care-givers confidence that their relative has the food they need when they need it.’

In this way, the partnership aligns with the values of Neo-collectivism, a shift that explores the societal shift towards empathy, community and inter-generational care.

Avanlee app in collaboration with Walmart, US

Strategic opportunity

The retail sector should take inspiration from this partnership and similarly explore ways to build seamless care services into existing operations

Stat: Luxury consumers prioritise conscious shopping

Ganni spring/summer 2022, Denmark Ganni spring/summer 2022, Denmark

Consumer demand for conscious luxury products is growing, with some countries placing higher priority on sustainability than others. On luxury marketplace Farfetch, for example, France saw the highest global growth in conscious shopping in 2021, with a 149% year-on-year increase in gross merchandise volume (GMV).

According to Farfetch’s annual Conscious Luxury Trends report, consumers are continuing to shop more conscientiously, opting to buy pre-owned items or engaging with circular services. South Korea is also emerging as a significant sustainability market, with the biggest increase in pre-owned spending per item, up 116% year on year. ‘It’s clear from the data that consumer appetite for more conscious and circular ways of engaging with fashion continues to grow, and that brands are responding to the opportunities that this trend presents,’ explains Thomas Berry, senior director of sustainable business at Farfetch.

In response to the growing appetite for conscious products, companies are bolstering their sustainability offerings. The luxury market in France is particularly well placed to integrate more ethical products to fulfil the rising demand for such products.

Strategic opportunity

Shoppers are searching for conscious products online. In addition to creating separate sections for sustainable items, consider creating more sustainable websites by prioritising simplicity and lower resolution images

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