Retail Industry Trends : From groceries to placemaking, retail is becoming more immersive, expressive, dramatic and hyper-personalised.

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06 : 06 : 23

Fortnum & Mason embraces circular architecture, Kibu builds sustainable kids’ headphones and why employers underestimate disabled employee numbers.

Fortnum & Mason’s flagship store welcomes a bio-plastic installation

The Wavery, UK

UK – Fortnum & Mason is exploring the interlinked relationships between art, dining and environmentalism with a new installation inside the brand’s iconic Piccadilly flagship store.

To design the installation, which doubles as the centrepiece of the department store’s third-floor bar, Fortnum & Mason has called upon self-proclaimed Eco-Parametric French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani. The resulting artwork is The Wavery – a portmanteau word melding wave and rêverie (French for daydreaming), echoing the awe-inspiring shading created by rippled shapes in the structure.

As well as stunning visitors, the installation was designed to live up to the highest sustainability standards. The Wavery was locally created in a circular factory and entirely made of compostable materials like PLA, a bioplastic that generates 80% less carbon than conventional plastics and that can be industrially composted.

‘We love the idea of taking you on a journey to a future in which our objects are designed globally but made locally, and where we make everything from renewable and circular materials,’ says Mamou-Mani. The project, with its use of awe and highly sensorial experiences to address environmental issues, follows in the footsteps of brands rewilding the retail sector.

Strategic opportunity

Take cues from Fortnum & Mason’s project, skilfully leaning into environmentally positive architecture without alienating the brand’s heritage and appreciation of local craftsmanship

Kibu builds circular economy headphones for children

Kibu headphones by Batch.Works and Morrama, UK Kibu headphones by Batch.Works and Morrama, UK
Kibu headphones by Batch.Works and Morrama, UK Kibu headphones by Batch.Works and Morrama, UK

UK — Award-winning industrial design consultancy Morrama has partnered with Batch.Works, a circular manufacturing company, to create Kibu circular and repairable headphones for children.

Kibu headphones are made using recycled PLA from agricultural packaging waste and printed on demand by Batch.Works in Hackney, London. Every component of the headphones is recyclable and replaceable and all parts are available in a range of colours so they are easy for children to customise. In the event of damage or when a child grows out of their pair, the plastic parts of the old headphones can be returned to Batch.Works where they will be recycled and used to create new ones.

Morrama and Batch.Works headphones are part of a growing trend towards repairability as the future of design. Brands and businesses are building repairable consumer electronics to meet consumers’ increasing demand for sustainable products. ‘By starting with kids’ products,’ says Jo Barnard, founder and creative director of Morrama, ‘we hope to set the next generation on a path to better understanding and appreciating the objects they use and interact with, and to do so in a playful and engaging way.’

Strategic opportunity

When designing products for children consider Edu-play-tion. Allow products that are fun to also serve as tools for education. They can be powerful instruments to engage children in big topics such as environmental responsibility

Ground-breaking material could block mosquito bites

Photography by cottonbro studio Photography by cottonbro studio

US – Auburn University researchers have unveiled a fabric prototype that could keep wearers safe from mosquito bites. John Beckmann, an assistant professor of entomology and plant pathology, said his team have developed a unique knit with a geometric structure blocking the mosquito’s needle-like appendage used for biting. After programming different patterns on knitting machines and testing each fabric on themselves with live mosquitoes, they created a specific knit that can stretch and bend while leaving no openings for insects.

Protective yet comfortable, some graduate students have compared the prototype clothing made with a blend of Spandex and polyester to Lululemon leggings. The next step for the researchers is to improve comfort and find clothing manufacturers willing to license the knitting pattern. Beckmann told Fast Company the cost of production shouldn’t be substantially higher than typical textile manufacturing. The protective clothing could be a ground-breaking solution for developing countries facing malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus and a high infant mortality rate due to vector-borne diseases.

In Safety Fits, we previously highlighted similar innovators merging functional gear with activism to turn clothes into modern-day armour.

Strategic opportunity

As temperatures rise and insects like mosquitoes proliferate, fashion brands should consider how to rethink their production line to enter this emerging market where clothes act as fashionable protection against climate change

Stat: Employers underestimate number of disabled employees

Space10 Library. Photography by Seth Nicolas, Denmark Space10 Library. Photography by Seth Nicolas, Denmark

Global – According to a recent report by Boston Consulting Group, numerous global organisations are unaware of what proportion of their workforce consists of people with disabilities. The study compiled data from 28,000 employees across 16 countries and found that 25% of respondents have a disability or health condition that limits their daily activities, compared to the 4–7% estimated by most businesses. The Your Workforce Includes People with Disabilities. Does Your People Strategy? report observed that many companies are failing to consider the prevalence of disability in a post-pandemic world.

Across all countries surveyed, individuals with disabilities reported lower feelings of inclusion at work, not only when compared to co-workers without disabilities, but also in comparison with other groups who routinely form the focus of corporate equity and inclusion initiatives such as women, LGBTQ+ individuals and people of the global majority.

The report emphasises the need for organisations to invest in disability inclusion policies and practices. In our Work States Futures report, we looked at how workplaces of the future will enhance productivity by prioritising employee satisfaction. They will do this by creating a more sociable, wellness-orientated and inclusive environment.

Strategic opportunity

Creating an inclusive working environment is essential to harness the full potential of diverse talent and optimise workplace wellbeing and productivity. Consider how to establish initiatives that promote equitable policies and spread awareness on visible and invisible disabilities in the workplace

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