News 29.03.2023

Need to Know

A shoppable Paul Smith suite at Brown’s Hotel, exploring the Black community in the metaverse and colourism in the workplace.

Brown’s Hotel opens a shoppable Paul Smith suite

Sir Paul Smith Suite at Brown's Hotel, UK

UK – Brown’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair has unveiled a new, entirely shoppable Sir Paul Smith Suite featuring a range of furniture, artworks and soft furnishings from the new Paul Smith home collection. Brown’s Hotel is a part of the Rocco Forte Hotels group and the suite was created in collaboration with its design director, Olga Polizzi, with the aim of offering guests a creatively inspirational stay.

Renowned designer Smith designed the space himself while drawing on the hotel’s history as the residence of notable literary guests including Rudyard Kipling, who completed The Jungle Book there in 1894. The suite features customised and vintage furniture, hand-picked art and a small library of design books selected by Smith himself. Sofas, tables and leather goods from his Everyday Life collection, as well as rugs, lamps and photographic prints can all be purchased. ‘I’m so pleased we’ve been able to include objects that inspire me personally and I hope, in turn, they’ll inspire the suite’s guests,’ says the designer.

But what price is inspiration? A stay at the Paul Smith Suite is priced from £5,500 ($6,776, €6,255), meaning this particular branded hospitality experience is targeted at a luxury guest. Nevertheless, this collaborative process shows how the hospitality sector’s post-pandemic comeback involves innovation – particularly through brand collaborations – a strategy we’ve explored in our report on how Hotels are the New Frontiers for Brands.

Strategic opportunity

Creating a take-home tier is not just applicable to the luxury travel sector but across the board of hospitality experiences; this additional level of experience can extend the reach of a brand into the customer’s home, making it synonymous with a good memory – and cementing travel as an extended experience.

WePresent to explore the Black community in the metaverse

Huntrezz Janos for A Vibe Called Tech and WePresent, UK
Huntrezz Janos for A Vibe Called Tech and WePresent, UK
Huntrezz Janos for A Vibe Called Tech and WePresent, UK
Huntrezz Janos for A Vibe Called Tech and WePresent, UK

UK – Black-owned creative agency A Vibe Called Tech has teamed up with WePresent to explore the past, present and future of the Black experience in the metaverse through an artistic reflection by Afro-Hungarian artist Huntrezz Janos.

Janos will create four avatars symbolising who she would like to see in the metaverse. She is best known for creating augmented and virtual realities that transgress the oppressions of the physical world in relation to diversity and inclusion. Some of the characters to be created include a jewellery-laden basketball player – the digiballer – who stands for Black trans visibility, as well as a virtual therapist who works with patients in an ‘infinite zen garden’ where they meditate on clouds.

A Vibe Called Tech has also commissioned an essay by Williesha Morris on the issues facing the Black community in the metaverse, which include appropriation, misuse and financial discrimination. The essay will be accompanied by an illustration by digital artist Serwah Attafuah. As the metaverse continues to grow – a recent Bloomberg report estimates that companies will invest more than £650bn ($800bn, €738bn) in it by 2024 – questions about ethics and community bear more urgency. Adopting a people-first approach is important, as revealed in our Betterverse report.

Strategic opportunity

Successful relationships between brands and customers in the metaverse will be enhanced through the creation of safe emotional spaces and purposeful digital reproductions

Colossal 3D-printed project brings affordable housing to Kenya

Africa – The largest 3D-printed neighbourhood to date is under development in Kilifi County in Kenya, and aims to provide a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solution to the country’s housing crisis.

Sustainable building company Holcim and the UK’s Development Finance Institution (DFI) are working in tandem to alleviate Kenya’s affordable housing crisis, where more than 20% of residents live in slums with limited access to clean water. Initiated in 2021, the 14Trees project aims to change that by rolling out affordable, eco-friendly and easy-to-deploy 3D-printed housing communities. Once completed, the initial development, Mvule Gardens, will be the largest 3D-printed affordable housing complex, with a total of 52 housing units. The first 10 3D-printed houses were built in only 10 weeks, an extremely fast turnaround enabled by Holcim’s proprietary 3D printing ink technology.

Mvule Gardens is the first 3D-printed housing project to receive the World Bank’s sustainability award, and promises to revitalise the area and enhance the living conditions of residents. At LS:N Global, we are tracking initiatives like 14Trees, using material innovation to build more resilient cities and improving the quality of life in future spaces.

14Trees by Holcim, Kenya

Strategic opportunity

While we have seen businesses dabbling in 3D-printed housing concepts, the 14Trees project is an invitation to reflect on different ways to deploy innovation to supercharge its social impact

Stat: Women with darker skin more likely to experience racism at work

Photography by Fauxels Photography by Fauxels

Global – A new survey by Catalyst highlights how colourism and hair texturism affect women of colour in the workplace, and shows that those with darker skin and curlier hair face more discrimination.

After interviewing 2,734 women from different marginalised racial and ethnic groups in Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK and the US, researchers concluded that 51% of respondents had experienced racism in their current workplace. The report found that women with darker skin tones (colourism), those with more Afro-textured hair (texturism), trans women and queer women are disproportionately targeted with racism at work. My hair was in an Afro and my co-worker, a white male, was saying I should be clean and do my hair, said one of the Black women surveyed.

In our Identities Series, we track new directions in diversity, inclusion and womens futures, among others. As Black women employees arent a monolith, this report by Catalyst should prompt employers to rethink how they can become better allies.

Strategic opportunity

Companies looking to become a safe space for employees of colour should embrace an intersectional approach to understand better why women employees of colour face different types of discrimination at the same time

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