01 : 10 : 21 : Weekly Debrief

type - need to know
Need To Know

This week: Electricity from tomatoes, reinventing student banking, Google’s latest ad campaign, Dezeen’s lower-impact website and an experimental concept store.

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1 October 2021

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady


Warm Earth by Ilja Schamlé, Eindhoven

1. This self-sustaining server produces electricity from tomatoes

The Netherlands – Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Ilja Schamle is exploring the potential of self-sustaining ecosystems with a tomato plant-powered energy server. Her project, Warm Earth, examines how technology could enter a symbiotic relationship with nature. The self-built server system sees renewable energy derived from tomato vines run a cloud server, with heat generated by the computer providing optimal growing temperatures for the plants.

While this project offers a promising insight into the future of sustainable energy, the world’s current internet usage is too demanding for such a system to uphold. ‘The pace of the internet is extreme compared to the pace of plants, how they grow and how the bacteria breaks down and releases electrons,’ says Schamle. ‘Combining these two systems accentuates the excessiveness of our online behaviour and its electricity use.’

In the future, there will be an even greater need for systems that simultaneously cater to our digital habits while also preserving nature. Elsewhere, we previously spoke to designers Monika Seyfried and Cyrus Clarke about their research into data-storing plants.

Mos Student Banking, US

2. Financial aid start-up Mos reinvents student banking

US – Expanding from its roots as a financial-aid start-up, Mos is introducing a debit card aimed at students. As part of a partnership with Blue Ridge Bank, the Mos card offers zero overdraft or late fees, as well as requiring no minimum balance. Students who sign up for a debit card can also use the platform’s scholarship and grant matching tool to ensure they have access to as much financial support as possible.

By creating the card, Mos approaches student financial aid in a holistic way – simultaneously allowing Gen Zs to manage their money while providing support from trusted scholarship providers. ‘The goal is not to just become a student bank. The goal is to be like a financial super app,’ says Amira Yahyaoui, founder and CEO at Mos. ‘I understand the frustration of not being allowed in [to college] because you can’t afford it.’

Fintech disruptor Twig recently spoke to LS:N Global about how it wants to become the bank for Generation Z, and how the circular economy will transform young people’s perception of wealth.

The more we learn, the closer we get by Uncommon Studio for Google

3. Google's latest ad champions the power of questions

UK – The technology giant is positioning itself as a tool for promoting social change. Its latest advert, which is narrated by socially-conscious football player Marcus Rashford, promotes the importance of asking questions to gain greater understanding of UK culture and identity. Created by Uncommon Creative Studio, the campaign shows scenes such as a school boy looking at Muslims praying at a mosque and a man looking uncertain at an Irish dance.

As part of the narration, Rashford says phrases such as: ‘It's OK not to know...to be curious.’ The campaign film will also be accompanied by a YouTube series featuring celebrities exploring the theme of allyship. In a Dislocated World, such initiatives showcase how major companies can facilitate ongoing conversations around diversity, inclusion and altruistic behaviour.

By using its online channels in this way, Google also caters to the need for Veritas Media – as consumers continue to seek out trusted information in a world of misinformation.

4. Dezeen unveils a lower-impact website

UK – The online architecture and design magazine is taking steps to becoming more environmentally friendly with a series of coding updates to its website. These changes, which were verified by eco-conscious website service EcoPing, represent a carbon emission reduction of 66%.

This update follows a blog post by Dryden Williams, founder of EcoPing, which called out the shocking planetary impact of Dezeen’s website. ‘Dezeen produces 10 times the average emissions from comparable sites,’ wrote Williams. ‘That adds up to 2.1 billion grams of CO2 per year. You would need a forest with 96,600 mature trees to sequester this much CO2.’ By revealing these findings and making positive steps, Dezeen sets an example to other organisations in the importance of being transparent with audiences.

Through this approach, Dezeen also showcases how a design-driven media brand can create a Low-impact Interface to offer a greener and more energy-efficient service.

Dezeen makes "massive" reduction to its website carbon emissions
Gucci Vault, Milan

5. Vault by Gucci elevates emerging designers

Italy & Global – Luxury label Gucci is diversifying its digital retail offering with an experimental concept store called Vault. Immersing audiences in the brand’s past, present and future guises, the site stocks vintage Gucci garments alongside pieces from emerging designers such as Collina Strada and Ahluwalia. Vault also prioritises a sense of discovery through playful editorial features such as ASMR videos and outfit style guides.

Here, the brand is redefining the luxury landscape by fusing its traditional identity with the fresh voices of up-and-coming names in the fashion sector. ‘[Vault is] a time machine, an archive, a library, a laboratory, and a meeting place,’ explains a statement on its website. ‘It is in a state of continuous evolution, reflecting the Creative Director’s passion for experimentation, showcasing restored and customised archive pieces alongside the creations of emerging designers through a poetic and coherent editorial format.’

By spotlighting younger brands that would typically be considered its competition, Gucci is showing how prestigious fashion houses can embrace collaboration as part of a symbiotic luxury strategy.



To future-proof your world, visit The Future Laboratory's forecasting platform LS:N Global for daily news, opinions, trends, sector specific insights, and strategic toolkits.


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