Need to Know
08 : 07 : 22

A luxury travel classic enters the homeware market, a whiskey protecting marine eco-systems, and people are concerned about space exploration.

Rimowa and USM’s concept piece merges iconic designs

Rimowa and USM. Photography by Lucas Chanoine, Switzerland
Rimowa and USM. Photography by Lucas Chanoine, Switzerland
Rimowa and USM. Photography by Lucas Chanoine, Switzerland

Europe – German luxury luggage brand Rimowa is collaborating with Swiss furniture designer USM to create a unique concept design that reflects both companies’ dedication to functionality and craftsmanship. The one-off prototype piece – which is not for sale – combines characteristic details of each brand’s signature product, re-imagining USM’s Haller E2 storage unit in Rimowa’s grooved aluminium.

While the collaboration may seem unexpected, both companies have a decades-long history of constantly innovating and improving on the same design, and this latest project continues to expand on that tradition. USM and Rimowa have focused on constantly improving the same products for decades: Rimowa on its grooved aluminium suitcase since 1955 and USM on its modular furniture system that was patented in 1965, says Emelie de Vitis, marketing director at Rimowa: Such constant innovation can only be achieved by paying the greatest attention to both quality and functionality.

Rimowa’s distinctive suitcase design is synonymous with luxury travel, and the collaboration sees the luggage maker entering the premium homeware market – albeit on a conceptual level – in a way that feels authentic and aligned with its brand DNA.

Strategic opportunity

How can you use long-standing expertise in one sector to find an authentic and meaningful entry point into another?

Whiskey infused with an invasive species

Crab Trapper by Tamworth Distilling, US Crab Trapper by Tamworth Distilling, US
Crab Trapper by Tamworth Distilling, US Crab Trapper by Tamworth Distilling, US

US – An unusual ingredient gives Crab Trapper, a whiskey by Tamworth Distilling, its briny taste. The sustainable spirit is made with green crab, an invasive species that’s been wreaking havoc along the New England coast. To create the spirit, crabs are boiled to make a stout crab broth, which is then infused with alcohol and distilled to remove any unpleasant odours. Coriander, cinnamon, bay leaf and mustard seed are then added to the bourbon cask and matured for years to produce the spirit, resulting in a subtle marine flavour.

The green crab has been decimating marine eco-systems across the New England coast. According to Gabriela Bradt, the University of New Hampshire’s fisheries extension specialist, the crabs are ‘so numerous that they have really impacted shellfish habitats and fisheries because they are also voracious predators’.

By repurposing this invasive specie into a sustainable spirit, Tamworth Distilling is following the principles of Redemptive Diets, creating an enjoyable product that benefits marine wildlife and the world at large.

Strategic opportunity

In addition to food, drink and fashion, consider the various applications of invasive species and how they could be integrated into product design

A bedtime speaker coded with parents’ voices

Japan – Toy brand Takara Tomy is unveiling an artificial intelligence (AI) smart speaker, called Coemo, which is designed to imitate a parent’s voice at bedtime and read children’s books.

Parents can create AI copies of their voices using 60 different stories and songs, including popular fairytales. Takara Tomy intends to release additional purchasable content, allowing the device to adapt to a child’s tastes as they grow.

Positioning it as an entertaining bedside avatar – complete with a caricatured speech bubble and glowing face – Takara Tomy’s speaker is designed to help children relax before bed. While most smart speakers are functional and instructional, this piece of technology taps into the needs of next-generation families.

As we forecast in our future home scenario piece, such technologies are increasingly being employed to enhance people’s lived experiences. Looking ahead, this innovation could support families with parents that are required to live and work remotely.

Coemo by Takara Tomy, Japan

Strategic opportunity

How can technology brands adapt their products to focus on the development of young children?

Stat: Global unease about space exploration persists

Virgin Galactic Interiors by Seymourpowell Virgin Galactic Interiors by Seymourpowell

While many brands are gearing up for an expected boom in space tourism and innovation, global consumers have expressed concern about our intergalactic future. According to an Inmarsat survey of 20,000 people from 11 countries, a majority (97%) of people see space as a problem area and a threat due to space junk and pollution.

One in nine of those questioned said they were ‘terrified’ of what could happen in space, while just one in three were excited or hopeful about the potential.

Younger respondents to the survey were found to be more cautious than older people. ‘Younger generations associate space more with science fiction than science – and they’re considerably more concerned and nervous about the impact of space on our lives,’ says the report. ‘However, older generations [who grew up during the first Space Age] are much more hopeful and optimistic about what space brings to life on Earth.’

With the potential for extra-terrestrial innovations increasing, brands need to adapt their communications to better educate the public on the positive benefits of space experimentation.

Strategic opportunity

Young audiences are particularly wary of space exploration and experimentation. How might Generation Z-focused brands or influencers help to shift the narrative and shed light on the potential of space to benefit Earth’s resources?

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