New digital platforms are applying this localism on a grander scale, using sharing economy models to decouple consumption from capitalism. The reciprocal nature of Buy Nothing, which began as a series of Facebook groups for hacks on how to, literally, buy nothing, turned heads in the retail sector when it launched its own app in November 2021. Now, the app streamlines the process of requesting and collectively sharing objects with others for free, with the end goal of reducing consumption.
In China's Zhejiang Province, the Xinfan Market has been redesigned to take into account the ‘community group buying practices’ that replaced traditional market rituals during the country's lockdowns. During this time, community leaders would purchase items in bulk before distributing them directly to members of the community. As a result, design studio Naturalbuild chose to integrate the ‘chaos' and 'randomness' of these experiences into the architecture of the market.
Launched at Dutch Design Week in 2021, Vrienden is a furniture brand that operates as a social design network, positioning strangers’ living rooms as showrooms where people can buy furniture while making social connections. Those who help to build a national network by offering their homes as private viewing spaces are posited as Friends and customers must make an appointment with such hosts before they visit. If they buy an item from the homeware collection, the hospitable Friend earns a cut of the sale.
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