Futures 100 Innovators : May

sector - food & drink
sector - beauty
category - design
category - society
sector - media & technology
type - futures 100 innovators awards
Futures 100 Innovators Awards
In the fifth longlist of our 2023 Futures 100 Innovators Awards, we reveal The Future Laboratory’s chosen innovators and change-makers who are set to disrupt the lifestyle categories in 2023 and beyond.

Each month, we profile 10 brands, businesses and people that our team of researchers and analysts have identified as driving forward innovation across multiple industries, ranging from beauty and wellness to luxury, design, retail and travel.

In October 2023, our complete Futures 100 Innovators list will be presented to a panel of industry judges at Trend Briefing 2024 who will select and award their 10 leading innovators.

May’s future shapers include an inclusive emoji designer, next-gen decomposable packaging and a Nigerian energy finance disruptor.

You can nominate your own innovators via: futures100innovators@thefuturelaboratory.com


Published by:

6 June 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: The Future Laboratory


Left: Danny Lowe, founder, Someone & Others, US. Right: Stephanie Slater, co-founder and CEO, Basejam, UK.

Health & Wellness: Daniel Lowe

A health and wellness branding agency with a little patch of goodness on the side

Founded by Los Angeles-based designer Daniel Lowe, Someone & Others is a branding agency that has used its knowledge of the wellness sector to develop its own range of vitamin-imbued patches. Lowe and his team have created Wearables, a range of stick-ons that dispense slow-release supplements with names including Chill, Relief, Energy and Sleep.

But Wearables is only one part of the Lowe experience. His brand, packaging and website design work for cult wellness and beauty brands such as Ugly, KNC Beauty and Good Weird are huge graphic successes with their own fans and followers who like them for their tangy colours, sharp stories and punchy, no-shit typographical flourishes.

‘A brand should always stand out and tell a unique story, so we look for the best way to tell that story,’ Lowe tells The Future Laboratory. ‘Typically, I look outside of the vertical for inspiration. When it’s a women’s beauty brand, I look at men’s street fashion; when it’s a men’s skincare brand, I’ll get inspired by a vintage car design rather than looking at competitors in the same vertical. But above all else, before you do anything, you look to the story. Then use that to inspire the design.’

Travel & Hospitality: Stephanie Slater

An online start-up that makes business retreats easy to organise

Basejam promises to take the stress out of finding a venue for everything from team-building and retreats to project-based working sprints.

‘Think of us as the Airbnb of business retreats,’ says co-founder Stephanie Slater, whose company is based in London and lists spaces throughout Europe.

Slater explains that Basejam helps to cement, reboot or consolidate a company’s culture under the five Cs of hybrid working: creativity, community, collaboration, conversation and co-creation, as revealed in our recent Work States Futures report.

‘We’re transforming the corporate travel industry by providing a platform that streamlines the retreat planning process by making it easier for companies to plan and execute impactful retreats,’ she tells The Future Laboratory. ‘The average company retreat costs £2,000–4,000 ($2,500–5,000, €‎2,300–4,600) per person in Europe, and our aim is to make everything transparent so that there are no hidden costs, and less is spent on daily extras.’

‘But above all else, before you do anything, you look to the story. Then use that to inspire the design.’
Daniel Lowe, founder, Someone & Others
Ethical Cosmetics, Australia

Beauty: Avigon Paphitis

A provocative action platform to encourage sustainable beauty

Previously working at brands including Beautycounter and Youth to The People, Australia-based Avigon Paphitis is no stranger to the many spurious sustainability claims the beauty sector makes.

Confronting these head on, she has set up Ethical Cosmetics as an exploratory platform for like-minded writers, artists, innovators and photographers such as Sasha Lytvyn, Nicholas Menu and Robin Stein who use their skills to provoke change. Its aim is to challenge beauty brands ‘to do better and think differently’, Paphitis tells The Future Laboratory.

‘Ultimately, we believe our industry shouldn’t operate at the cost of exploitation of resources and labour, as it does right now. We will educate and inspire our community as we take part in a global industry shift where luxury and ethics go hand in hand.’

Media and Technology: Rotimi Thomas

A clean tech start-up that plugs users into the solar grid at affordable rates

You’ve heard of fintech, now Nigeria’s SunFi is one of the first energy finance start-ups that helps individuals and businesses access solar power through payment plans they can afford.

The brainchild of CEO Rotimi Thomas, the platform has received £1.9m ($2.3m, €2m) in seed funding to take customers off the national energy grid, which frequently experiences outages.

Thomas explains that although solar power is one solution, paying for installation and maintenance of the necessary equipment wasn’t possible for many of the country’s 223m people. Along with co-founders Tomiwa Igun and Olaoluwa Faniyi, Thomas developed two options: a deposit followed by instalments, with the aim of the customer eventually owning the solar-energy system, and a monthly subscription.

‘The challenge customers face with solar providers is that they want solutions they can pay small for,’ Rotimi told TechCrunch. But solar platforms can’t offer that, and banks are afraid of the technical risk involved. ‘They need something in between to talk with good solar providers and do the installation work while providing good capital to customers looking for the right solution. We’re the guys in the middle of all this.’

Left: Paul D. Hunt, US. Right: 00.thestore.

Retail: Zora Feraji

An occasional pop-up and radical activation space about sustainability and change

00.thestore is a carbon-neutral pop-up and experiential marketing activation developed by Hungary-born, London-based Zora Feraji, under the auspices of her equally impactful creative communications agency AFTERHOURZ.

Now in its third incarnation, with more planned for 2023, 00.thestore showcases the products of fashion, beauty and wellness brands that have a focus on sustainability, including Blue Nude, Charlotte Dunn, Carbon Theory and Dead Sea Dream.

Alongside its retail offering, the 00.thestore enables talks, workshops and panel discussions that showcase the ideas driving purpose, process and change across fashion, beauty and wellness.

Feraji sees herself as an activist, change-maker and influencer for good, saying: ‘I want to keep making people feel excited about sustainability and to continue driving meaningful conversations around impact, waste and our collective role in protecting the planet. I’m constantly inspired by the innovation we see across the 60-plus brands we are showcasing in-store.’

Design: Paul D Hunt

Inclusive emojis that challenge our graphic prejudices

‘Emojis are graphic short codes that tell others how we’re feeling when we respond to them, but not always who it is that is responding to them,’ says Australia-based typographer Paul D Hunt. Setting out to change this, Hunt is creating a series of emojis – the first was in 2017 – that are genderless, inclusive, diverse and challenge stereotypes.

As a genderqueer person who identifies as ‘they’, Hunt sees their characteristic androgynous emoji style as a way to stimulate debate among typographers, graphic artists and users about gender stereotyping and how we can proactively self-identify when engaging with others.

A multilingual typographer – and reluctant RuPaul fan – they found themselves wondering what masculine and feminine really meant, and how this could and should be represented graphically. ‘The solution is ongoing,’ Hunt tells The Future Laboratory. ‘Androgyny becomes a base note around which nuanced shifts can be introduced, depending on the context, the sender, receiver and, of course, the emotion that sits behind the message.’

‘Androgyny becomes a base note around which nuanced shifts can be introduced, depending on the context, the sender, receiver and, of course, the emotion that sits behind the message.’
Paul D Hunt, typographer
Anna and Maria Glansén, co-founders, Tomorrow Machine, Sweden

Luxury: Adam Meghji and Craig Follett

Making art accessible to collectors at all levels

A platform for the art curious and the art expert, Canada-based Peggy is a social media marketplace where you can buy, sell, comment on or view contemporary art.

The brainchild of Adam Meghji and Craig Follett, Peggy partners with over 30 galleries globally to highlight artists who are on the up, or those who have already made it to the walls of the Whitney, Tate or Centre Pompidou. It was set up with an initial investment of £6m ($8m, €7m).

The AI-driven platform can authenticate artwork, allowing artists to secure royalties when their work is first purchased, and also when it is sold to subsequent collectors or dealers. This is a democratising move, as artwork is usually authenticated by a small set of gatekeepers who specialise in better-known artists.

‘Peggy creates a new economy for art, one where everyone can participate,’ says Follett. ‘For the first time ever, collectors can buy art with the flexibility to sell it on the other side, should they one day need to re-home the artwork. This unprecedented flexibility, previously only available to billionaires, is now available to the rest of us, and we're excited to be at the forefront of this movement.’

Food & Drink: Anna Glansén and Maria Glansén

Decomposable packaging that alerts you to the decay of the contents within

An increasing number of brands are using decomposable packaging as a way of driving home their green credentials, but what about creating peel-down packaging from potato starch? Or materials that decompose with the product, so you know when to use it?

Swedish designers Anna and Maria Glansén, from design studio Tomorrow Machine, have done just that by creating food containers made from agar-agar seaweed gel that withers at the same rate as the food or liquids they contain.

The duo’s This Too Shall Pass range also features beeswax rice cones that can be opened by peeling them like a fruit, while another product is made from wax-coated caramelised sugar and can be opened by cracking it like an egg.

A self-cleaning bowl is in development, a collaboration with Swedish research company Innventia. It mimics the properties of the lotus leaf which, as Anna Glansén explains, ‘has a superhydrophobic coating and thus rejects dirt’, but also uses less water and energy to clean.

Left: Sky High Farm Workwear. Right: A Gold Consultancy.

Fashion: Daphne Seybold

A clothing range funding a community farm

Sky High Farm Workwear, part of the Sky High Farm Universe, was co-founded by Daphne Seybold and Dan Colen. Through collaborations with high-profile brands such as Balenciaga, it sells clothing to raise funds for Sky High Farm, an upstate New York charity that grows food for hard-pressed families. The farm exists as a non-profit organisation and separate entity from the brand.

Starting with support from the Dover Street Market Paris brand incubator in 2021, Sky High Farm Workwear now stocks items of clothing from the likes of Dickies, Converse and Quil Lemons. It has held a Nordstrom pop-up and continues to work alongside stylist and i-D magazine editor-in-chief Alastair McKimm, Harper’s Bazaar US editor-in-chief Samira Nasr and costume designer Heidi Bivens.

Sky High focuses on sustainability and enablement while tackling food poverty and providing access to outdoor space to improve people’s mental and physical wellbeing. The farm donates significant quantities of vegetables and meat to food-access groups across New York.

‘There’s no blueprint for what we’re building’, Seybold tells The Future Laboratory. 'It’s both challenging and deeply exhilarating.’

Youth: Ah-Niyah Gold

A boutique agency creating space for next-generation fashion, beauty and design talent from people of colour

Ah-Niyah Gold’s career started when she was a child actress in The Lion King on Broadway and today she’s the queen of A Gold Consultancy, a next-gen fashion and beauty PR agency.

She’s already the go-to person for journalists who want to know more about the brands and names that she works with, including Theophilio, Topicals, Brandon Blackwood, and Antoine Gregory of Black Fashion Fair fame.

Her agency is about PR, she says, but it’s also about developing talent and working with the names she promotes to help them grow their stories; Gold also shares what she’s learned about business from her many mentors on her way up, including her mum.

In an interview with Teen Vogue she says: ‘I've gotten this far because I am not afraid to communicate and I'm not afraid to voice the issues that not only I am facing, but [other] professionals like myself are facing because of the lack of opportunity.’

‘I've gotten this far because I am not afraid to communicate and I'm not afraid to voice the issues that not only I am facing, but [other] professionals like myself are facing because of the lack of opportunity.’
Ah-Niyah Gold, A Gold Consultancy

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