News 24.04.2023

Need to Know

Milan Design Week 2023 daily recap, Cj Hendry’s maximalist playground and why unmarried educated women still face a wealth penalty

Milan Design Week daily recap: Brera displays multi-functional wind turbines and a live mobility game

True to Food Lab, Italy
Future73 Visions: Suzanne Oude Hengel by Timberland, Italy
ECAL Junkyard Diving by Marvin Merkel, Italy
Walk the Talk by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italy

Italy – On day three of Milan Design Week, The Future Laboratory explored the sought-after Brera Design District – housing everything from hyperphysical flagship stores to interactive showrooms and university exhibitions.

In line with tradition, Fuorisalone made space for the designers of tomorrow by highlighting graduates’ creativity in various exhibitions. Students from Swiss university ÉCAL’s BA in Industrial Design turned junkyard items into innovative furnishings from junkyard items. Their counterparts doing their master’s in product design developed new prototypes of wind turbines for Fogo Island, an offshore destination known for its strong gales. Students Yohanna Rieckhoff and Luis Rodriguez’s turbine doubled up as a seaweed farm, proposing a solution to Fogo Island’s vanishing marine trade. Jule Bols and Sophia Götz presented a turbine that stored a hydroponic greenhouse, a space that would facilitate year-round food production.

Sweden’s Lund University School of Industrial Design (LUSID) presented Liminal Spaces, an exploration of sensor technology in collaboration with Sigma Connectivity. Visitors could see how the movement of pendulums and a person’s heartbeat could create personalised artwork via one of the installations. Others addressed how self-powered thermoelectricity could be used for children’s lamps or how interactive mirrors could be tomorrow’s sign language teachers.

The Brera Design District is also known for hosting big names. Timberland, best known for its working boot, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the Triennale Milano Museum of Art and Design as part of Milan Design Week 2023. Future73 Visions presented six iterations of the famous boot designed in collaboration with creatives such as Christopher Raeburn and Suzanne Oude Hengel. The latter also developed an accompanying film powered by artificial intelligence that combined existing Timberland advertising, its archival imagery and her knitting techniques.

Elsewhere, world-renowned architecture firm Carlo Ratti Associati partnered with Italo Rota to create a living board game that prompted visitors to question their urban mobility choices. Guests were guided around the board to rethink their travel methods and routes.

Strategic opportunity

Much like Carlo Ratti Associati’s life-size exhibition, live experiences that require participation and action from people are a useful tool for encouraging new behaviours

Cj Hendry designs 5,000-square-feet adult Plaid-ground in Brooklyn

 Plaid by Cj Hendry, US Plaid by Cj Hendry, US
 Plaid by Cj Hendry, US Plaid by Cj Hendry, US

US – Cj Hendry’s latest exhibition, Plaid, was all about bringing a children’s playground to new frontiers. The Australian artist specialises in experiential exhibitions taking visitors into another world before introducing them to her pieces. Plaid is a 5,000-square-feet colourful labyrinth designed to mimic the Plaid pattern of her collection of two-dimensional drawings comprising perpendicular lines in dry brush strokes.

A hyper-realism enthusiast, the artist wanted viewers to connect with their inner child and experience the simplicity of joy before growing up and ‘feeling the burden of adulthood’. She said: ‘I thought, how great would it be for a playground to be a public art sculpture? My practice is autonomous, and trying to work with a government body on a park project presents many challenges. So, I said, f*ck it! I’ll do it myself.’ Between 17 and 23 April 2023, visitors could enter the exhibition in Brooklyn, New York, for only £8 ($10, €9) and receive a complimentary pair of plaided socks, paying homage to the art while keeping the space clean.

In The Awe Economy, we previously looked at how experiences that invoke wonder and awaken self-transcendence are rising, whether from artists like Cj Hendry or a luxury hospitality player like Nanuku Resort and its astro-tourism programme in Fiji.

Strategic opportunity

Retailers should find inspiration in Hendry’s approach to welcoming clients into a space with awe-inspiring branding, complimentary branded merchandise and an introduction to the sellable products within the experience rather than in the window

Singapore certified as a global sustainable destination

Singapore – The city-state has been certified as a sustainable destination based on objectives set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and audited by Vireo, a GSTC-accredited agency in Italy. Singapore is the first country to apply for the process.

Vireo will investigate the country’s performance in sustainable management, socio-economic sustainability, cultural sustainability and environmental sustainability. Singapore’s Green Plan 2030 and its official Tourism Sustainability Strategy were officially launched in 2022 and remain one of the country's priorities today.

‘Tourism businesses must do more to internalise sustainability as a part of their offerings to contribute to making Singapore greener and more liveable,’ said Keith Tan, CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board. ‘Our vision is to become the world’s most sustainable urban destination, and we now know we are on the right track.’

This certification sets new standards for sustainable travel, a growing sector we analysed in Biomimicry Hotels.

Gardens by the Bay by Alesia Kozik

Strategic opportunity

Eco-conscious travellers are not fooled by greenwashing or surface-level offsetting attempts – they will value high-level certification and genuine action

Stat: Unmarried women face a wealth penalty despite better career opportunities

Photography by cottonbro studios Photography by cottonbro studios

US – New research in the US sheds light on the mismatch between women’s contribution to the labour force and the pervasive gender wealth gap they face.

Data from the recent report by Wells Fargo suggests that American women are increasingly career-centred – the number of never-married, single women in the labour force has grown three times faster than the overall labour market in the past decade. But if women are benefitting from better opportunities in the workplace, it isn’t reflected in their economic situation. Revealing a gender pay gap that has increased by 3.7% in the past 10 years, the study makes a sobering statement: not getting married results in a financial penalty for women, with their median net worth 29% lower than that of single men.

‘Single women, despite their ever-growing influence in the labour market, aren’t catching up in wages,’ reads the report. These figures are alarming, and stress the need for employers to better champion the ever-growing cohort of women who don’t fit into the nuclear family structure.

Strategic opportunity

Employers should rethink their recruitment policies to reduce bias when hiring female talent of all ages. Consult with your female employees and make sure they feel heard and valued

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