17 : 09 : 21 : Weekly Debrief

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Need To Know

This week: Post-lockdown mental health care for pets, Balmain’s drama series, Serena Williams champions diversity, prickly pear skincare and connecting strangers through sound.

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17 September 2021

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image:  Akermus, Canada


What Now? By Petco

1. Petco considers the mental health of pets post-lockdown

US – With many people returning to social events and the office, the pet care brand is responding to the new wellbeing needs of their pets through a series of virtual training sessions. Launching as individual seminars, the sessions will help pet parents detect signs of stress in their pets, as well as learn relaxation techniques to help them adjust to post-pandemic routines.

The educational courses are part of the brand’s ongoing commitments to promote mental health support for pets. Ron Coughlin, chairman and CEO of Petco, comments: ‘As our routines begin to change, whether it's returning to school, work, travel or more social gathering – it's more critical now than ever for pet parents to understand how these changes can affect their pets' wellbeing and what we can do to help them adjust in a healthy way.’

As people seek to synchronise their own physical and mental self-care efforts, this thinking is now being applied to all aspects of their lives – including that of their pets.

Fracture by Channel 4 in partnership with Balmain, UK

2. Balmain’s drama series injects luxury into Channel 4

UK – Subverting luxury marketing conventions, the fashion house is teaming up with tv broadcaster Channel 4 on a short-form drama series. Titled Fracture, the series launches in conjunction with London Fashion Week 2021 and marks a first for the tv channel. Each episode will feature a full cast wardrobe of designs pulled from Balmain’s Fall 2021 collection.

The collaboration reflects both Balmain and Channel 4’s aims to connect with their respective audiences in non-traditional ways, recognising the powerful medium of entertainment and fashion as communication tools. ‘Fracture helps to make very clear Balmain’s determination to continue to break down boundaries and engage in unexpected, compelling and entertaining ways with lovers of fashion, music and design,’ explains Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain.

As the luxury sector continues to take imaginative digital marketing approaches, brands are loosening the reins on high-end traditions by using commercial entertainment formats. From multimedia marketing to shoppable shows, we’ve been tracking the rise of Luxtainment over the last year.

Serena Williams Design Crew by Nike in collaboration with Serena Williams

3. Serena Williams spotlights her apprentices for Nike

US – In her inaugural partnership with sportswear giant Nike, the tennis player is championing the diverse design apprentices who worked on the collection. Launched by Nike’s Serena Williams Design Crew (SWDC), the collection is the result of 18 months of work from a team of ten creatives from underrepresented backgrounds. The designs include apparel, footwear and accessories, integrating colours that complement diverse skin tones along with experimental proportions that represent the flow of playing tennis.

The sportswear collection, and its marketing communications, shift the focus away from the prestige of its celebrity ambassador and towards the group of emerging talent behind the scenes. ‘This program is an opportunity for people who otherwise may have never gotten a chance to design for the biggest sport company in the world,’ comments Serena Williams. ‘I hope this propels these designers in their careers and their lives.’

As brands step in to nurture the next generation of design talent, Williams' initiative reflects the ideas we explore in Alumni Incubators.

4. Ancestral beauty spikes with prickly pear skincare

Canada & Morocco – Skincare brand Akermus is centred around prickly pear seed oil – an ancestral ingredient with topical benefits. Derived from the seeds of the fruit that grow on a prickly pear cactus, the oil acts as a powerful antioxidant, soothes inflammation and stimulates collagen production. When designing the brand, designer and art director Mahmoud Ismail studied traditions of Indigenous communities – primarily taking inspiration from Morocco’s Amazigh culture.

Akermus’ aesthetic and messaging focuses on the importance of simplicity in cultural skincare customs. ‘By studying many traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, Akermus wanted to deliver a natural product that honours the collective knowledge of the free people,’ explains the brand in a press release.

By creating a natural product informed by North African heritage, Akermus showcases how a beauty brand can be created in a way that celebrates ancestral rituals and ingredients.

Akermus, Canada
Sonic Bloom by Yuri Suzuki, UK

5. This installation connects strangers through sound

London – Artist Yuri Suzuki is connecting London residents and visitors through an interactive public installation. Titled Sonic Bloom, the sculptural activation in Mayfair’s Brown Hart Gardens invites passersby to speak into its colourful horn shapes for others to listen to from another area of the installation. It also captures surrounding sounds such as birdsong and rustling leaves.

To complement the activation, a web portal – launching as part of the London Design Festival – will transform voice recordings into floral animations that will populate a map of Mayfair. Through the multi-sensory installation, Sonic Bloom creates a sense of community in what would typically be an impersonal, busy urban space. ‘We aim to encourage connections with friends and strangers creating serendipitous audible moments that create a sense of community, shared creative ground and sociability,’ comments Yuri Suzuki.

Its Mayfair location also reflects the ideas we explore within Equilibrium Cities, with urban centres integrating Blended Cultural Realms to entice people back to central districts for human interactions.



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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