21 : 04 : 23 : Weekly Debrief

need to know
product design
health & wellness
category - fashion
category - female futures
sector - food & drink
type - need to know
Need To Know
category - design
category - mobility
category - sustainability
sector - health & wellness
sector - youth

This week: A Milan Design Week recap, upcycled flour, a four-legged digital assistant, AI-optimised budgeting and IKEA’s relatability-first marketing campaign

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21 April 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Fog-X by Pavels Hedström, Italy


Ikea, Italy

1. Milan Design Week recap: Creativity in cities and Tortona highlights

Italy – On day two of Milan Design Week, The Future Laboratory headed to Tortona Design District, which housed notable exhibitions from Ikea, Superstudio and Base.

Carrying on the theme of future homes, Ikea’s Assembling the Future Together examined the past, present and future of life at home. The main exhibition explored the evolution of key furniture pieces that have contributed to Ikea’s success and vision since the 1950s, such as its Nytillverkad collection, which re-interprets iconic pieces for new generations.

Across the road at Superstudio, Samsung Electronics hosted Bespoke Home, Bespoke Life. Visitors could explore the brand’s growing range of eco-conscious home appliances and then discover how to personalise them to better fit their home and personality style. Examples on display included a laundry installation that doubled as a bar, and fridges that, at first glance, looked like a gallery wall. In the next room Lexus presented prototypes from the four winners of the Lexus Design Awards 2023, which has an overarching theme of ‘shaping the future’. Pavels Hedström, designer of Fog-X, presented a jacket that transforms into a shelter, which catches fog and turns it into drinking water – demonstrating true innovation in the camping market. Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo, designers of Zero Bag, displayed a new package that dissolves in water and contains a detergent that can remove chemicals from products such as food or clothing, while reducing plastic waste.

The day ended at Base, exploring how to build more creative and inclusive cities. Professionals from Experimentalista, Prince Claus Fund, LAGO and Moleskine Foundation highlighted the importance of creative minds contributing to city policy and design, particularly in emerging economies such as Mexico City and in African cities. Local communities too should be involved in urban planning to create sustainable and inclusive spaces. A big question posed was: ‘How do we design a city to reflect the people who live there both aesthetically and economically, and how can we move these ideas out of the talking phase and into applied solutions?’

We Will Design, also hosted by Base, presented projects from London university Central Saint Martins’ Material Futures students, including footwear redesigned to mimic the behaviour of keystone species to aid biodiversity and probiotic clothing that explores the benefits of fusing healthy bacteria into items of clothing, providing therapeutic and functional benefits to the wearer’s body.

2. Supplant upcycles wheat stalks into sustainable and more nutritious flour

US – Supplant, the company aiming to remake food systems for good by upcycling agriculture's most abundant renewable resources, has unveiled a new signature flour made with both wheat grains and stalks. Filled with six times more fibre than regular flour, Supplant’s Grain & Stalk Flour also comes with fewer calories and net carbohydrates. The firm previously patented Sugars from Fiber, an innovative sweetener derived from plant waste, including corn cobs, that combined nutrition, food security and sustainability.

A limited edition of Supplant Pasta made with the newly released flour will retail online from 27 March for £4 ($4.99, €4.55) while business and retail professionals, including seven-Michelin star chef Thomas Keller, can already access the raw material. ‘The company is making extraordinary strides in delivering on integrity without compromising on the environment or our health, and that strongly resonates with me as a chef,’ said Keller in a statement.

In Adaptive Appetites, we anticipated the rise of products like Grain & Stalk Flour in an industry seeking innovations to navigate an uncertain and frugal landscape – as inflation and supply chain fragility send food and drink prices soaring.

The Supplant Company, UK
Spike by Mini, Germany

3. Mini unveils new four-legged digital assistant

China – Mini has unveiled its new intelligent personal assistant at the Auto Shanghai international trade fair. A digital English bulldog called Spike, the assistant will be accessible via the cockpit of the five-door Mini Concept Aceman.

The bulldog, with its compact and powerful stature, reflects British heritage and the characterful Mini brand, which has long been associated with Britishness. Although Spike is not new – Mini introduced him in 2001 – his new digital version further strengthens the brand’s connection with drivers’ individual style. More importantly, it offers a more emotive interface with the car as consumers become ever more comfortable with using bots and avatars as interfaces.

The introduction and upgrade of digital features in the auto sector comes at a time when cars are increasingly drawing on virtual platforms, extended reality and even cryptocurrency to create immersive and entertaining in-vehicle experiences, as revealed in our Auto Entertainment report.

The Inflation Cookbook by SkipTheDishes, Canada

4. The Inflation Cookbook uses AI to optimise grocery budgets

Canada – The Inflation Cookbook is a digital platform helping users to pick dishes based on live ingredient prices, with some help from AI, nutritionists and chefs.

Developed by food delivery marketplace SkipTheDishes, the online tool helps Canadians to find affordable nutritious foods and optimise grocery budgets. The tool first tracks the price evolutions of hundreds of food products in real time. Every week, the algorithm will update rankings of the top 10 items with price levels going up and down. The platform also offers seven weekly recipe suggestions crafted using cost-efficient items as star ingredients.

This activation follows in the footsteps of food austerity innovators like The Yellow Sticker Cookbook, a tool suggesting tasty meal ideas made from products bought in the discounted aisle. SkipTheDishes takes this concept one step further, enabling consumers to monitor which products are reduced at the moment, and to plan their food shop and meals accordingly.

Show Off Your Savvy by Ikea, UK

5. Ikea embraces relatability-first marketing with savvy campaign

UK, Ireland – Ikea UK and Ireland has joined forces with London-based agency Mother for a new visual campaign rooted in the ‘the wonderful everyday’ and promoting savvy, humble and thrifty items saving energy, money and water or reducing food waste.

A collection of 11 short films will be circulated across the UK and Ireland, with some of them taking inspiration from Gen Z’s favourite short-form video formats, including outfit checks turned into ‘savvy checks’ and unboxing vlogs showcasing savvy products. Sarah Green, country marketing manager for Ikea UK and Ireland, said the campaign ‘is rooted in the insight that we can get as much joy when being savvy, as we do from being extravagant’.

Amid a cost of living crisis, brands have to adapt their storytelling to appear in touch with reality. In Retail-flation Responses, we analysed how retailers innovate to support consumers’ tightening purse strings due to inflation.


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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