1 August 2022
Author: The Future Laboratory
Image: The Future Laboratory
Building a live-streaming platform for the beauty community
Newness aims to do for beauty what Twitch has done for gaming; that is, create a space online for creators and their fans to foster strong communities and bond over their shared interests. Formerly at Twitch, Jenny Qian, the platform’s co-founder and CEO, is bringing her expertise in live-streaming to a different sector and a new audience.
While live-streaming itself is nothing new, Qian brings a clear understanding of the type of content that works on this type of platform. Newness is helping beauty shoppers to navigate the often-confusing world of product launches, paid-for influencer content and advertising that surrounds the sector by allowing them to interact directly with expert creators in real time. This is translating into high engagement rates, with two-thirds of the viewers on any stream using chat to communicate with the creator and other viewers.
Making wellness more diverse and culturally aware
Although the global wellness market is valued at £3.4 trillion ($4.2 trillion, €4.1 trillion) access for marginalised demographics is too often limited (source: Global Wellness Institute). Sinikiwe Dhliwayo is working to make the sector more equitable, and to open up wellness spaces to Bodies of Culture, a term she uses to encompass Black, Indigenous and people of colour.
Dhliwayo founded Naaya Wellness in 2018 as a platform looking to shift the status quo in the wellness industry and redefine how the industry looks. She is now crowdfunding for Ilanga, a new app for yoga, pilates and strength training that is looking to carve out a more welcoming space, with diverse instructors and one-to-one training plans for people of all backgrounds and abilities. The platform aims to be accessible, aesthetically pleasing and culturally sensitive, with classes focused on the joy of being alive and freedom of expression.
Focusing on planet-first design and climate justice
Outspoken climate campaigner, writer and designer Céline Semaan is on a mission to directly address the crisis facing our planet with solutions built around social equity. She views the climate crisis as a societal and human rights issue as much as an environmental one, and is looking to tackle the unsustainable systems that allow it to continue worsening.
Existing online since 2012, Slow Factory was founded by Semaan as a platform dedicated to educating its followers about regenerative design, material futures and other climate-adjacent fields, putting people at the heart of its vision. Now, the Slow Factory is crowdfunding to establish a permanent hub in Brooklyn, New York, that will house its educational programmes in a physical space.
Driving a digital-first coffee revolution
Sebastian Hannecker is the founder, COO and CFO of Flash Coffee, a coffee chain spreading rapidly across Asia with the focus on accessible prices and providing customers with a seamless service, as well as introducing lighter roasted coffee to Asian markets more used to darker taste profiles. Since opening its first store in Indonesia in 2020, the chain has expanded to more than 200 bright yellow storefronts around Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
Taking cues from just-walk-out retail models, Flash Coffee is using tech to improve the customer experience in the coffee sector. Customers can order for pick-up or delivery using the Flash app, minimising queue times and allowing the chain to operate from smaller stores, keeping costs down. In July 2022, the company secured a further £27m ($32.8m, €32.2m) in series B funding.
Bringing colour and texture to New York nightclubs
Kicking back against stark and minimal dance venues, Safwat Riad is re-imagining nightclubs across the city with playful interior design that creates a more welcoming atmosphere. Inspired by churches and spiritual architecture, as well as the abstract paintings of Wassily Kandinsky, the spaces Riad designs combine geometric shapes with drama, bringing joy back to nightlife. One such design has taken cues from an ex-girlfriend's bottom, resulting in a somewhat cheeky doorway arch. ‘Not everything has to be a square… It’s fun, it’s well designed and it’s not too serious – because some design ends up being too pretentious,’ he tells the The New York Times.
Riad oversees each project from start to finish, cutting out shapes based on his sketches with a laser cutter at his studio in Queens. From an initial sketch, he creates a digital rendering that allows him to visualise all the colours, textures and materials in 3D, signposting a future of more curious, theatrical and colourful club settings.
Sourcing ultra-rare grails for the luxury fashion elite
Hunting down Birkin bags is Michelle Lovelace’s speciality – just ask Kanye West, who happens to be one of her clients. The rapper recently asked Lovelace to procure the Hermès handbags that were given to guests as gifts at his ex-girlfriend Julia Fox’s birthday party in New York.
The stylist and personal shopper launched her own business in April 2021 and is already earning six figures sourcing hard-to-find luxury items for high-profile clients including rappers Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert and City Girls, travelling constantly to track items down.
With coveted limited-edition items dominating the wish lists of time-poor luxury clients, Lovelace’s ability to source them at speed brings an impressive new approach to personal shopping. A growing Instagram following is able to track her rare finds, spotlighting a future in which luxury hunting will evolve from a private service to an entertaining, globe-trotting pursuit.
Returning the West’s second-hand cast-offs to sender
After 13 years working in the European fashion industry, Bobby Kolade returned home to Uganda in 2018 intent on solving the second-hand clothes crisis in Africa. Tired of seeing Western nations use Africa as a dumping ground for its unwanted clothes, Kolade founded fashion brand Buzigahill to repurpose pre-owned garments and redistribute them back where they came from.
Describing his approach as ‘reactionary design’ to overconsumption in the West, each piece in Kolade’s first Buzigahill collection, Return to Sender, is unique, created from second-hand clothes that have been cut apart and playfully stitched back together. The brand places a strong focus on workmanship – each piece comes with a ‘passport’ showing where it was made – and is attempting to repair some of the damage that the overwhelming influx of discarded clothing into Africa does to local textile industries.
A rental response to the boom in outdoor adventurers
Desperate to explore the outdoors after moving to Los Angeles and losing all their gear, Rachelle Snyder and Ross Richmond found nowhere that could help. The situation led the husband-and-wife pair to co-found Arrive Outdoors in 2017, a consumer-facing hire platform for camping and skiing equipment.
The consumer side offers a product description and ‘rent’ button, while Arrive handles the entire rental process including shipping, customer service and cleaning items after they’ve been returned. Recently launched B2B service The Arrive Platform is allowing more brands to enter the eco-system and helping the company to expand. ‘My goal is to put the rent button on anywhere there's a buy button,’ says Snyder. ‘Because we had already built the tools and we’d done a ton of tests and learning over the last four years, we can then apply those learnings to help these other brands move much, much quicker.’
Fostering a more inclusive tech space
Digital designer Nicole Jonasson and 3D artist Ida Lissner are the co-founders of Softer, a ‘work-in-progress' platform committed to promoting values such as care, empathy and community in order to create a more inclusive environment in the tech sector. ‘We’re so used to thinking about tech as always having to be better and faster, that it’s the solution to every problem. Soft values are often neglected in this field, so we're trying to shift the focus towards slowing down and taking care of each other,’ Lissner tells Editor X.
When they’re not re-imagining the possibilities for how websites can look with futuristic san serif fonts and 3D design, the pair can be found hosting live-streams, virtual exhibitions, and recently, the network’s first real-life event. Panellists came together at the gathering, dubbed Softer Digital Futures, to discuss softer visions for tech and how to challenge existing issues in the industry.
Bringing kaleidoscopic dream visions to the metaverse
Digital artist Sean Walton, aka OseanWorld, is delving into the limitless imaginative possibilities of the metaverse with his maximalist 3D animations. As well as recently partnering with Instagram on its Digital Collectibles NFT project and working on his virtual pop idol project Yameii, OseanWorld’s collaboration with metaverse platform Realm is allowing him to bring a new level of interactivity to his work. He has also previously created music videos for Trippie Redd and Offset.
OseanWorld is setting the template for a new breed of multi-hyphenate young creatives, with work that merges physical with digital, and spans social media, gaming and Web3 platforms. Bringing creativity to virtual spaces, OseanWorld puts a unique stamp on such spaces, standing out against bland branded activations in virtual realms.
In the first six instalments of our Futures 100 Innovators longlist, we get to know global disruptors and change-makers creating the future across 10 sectors.
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