1 September 2021
Author: Adam Steel
Looking ahead, new materials will go one step further than circularity and begin proactively regenerating the environment. Teaming up with industrial designer Charlotte McCurdy, Phillip Lim has developed a dress made from carbon-sequestering algae. Elsewhere, Mexican designer Fernando Laposse has created Totomoxtle, a material that turns waste from corn production into a veneer, with the added benefit of re-popularising an endangered species of maize.
Promisingly, such concepts are not only environmentally beneficial but have a positive economic impact too. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation forecasts that restorative approaches could deliver an annual net material cost-saving of £437bn by 2025 in Europe alone, with materials integral to these approaches.
And at the same time, this new material movement entirely complements a fresh post-pandemic consumer mindset. Research from Capgemini reveals that more than two-thirds (67%) of consumers say they’ll be more cautious about the scarcity of natural resources and 65% more mindful about the impact of their overall consumption after the Covid crisis.
It’s a shifting mindset that Rachael Stott, The Future Laboratory’s futures analyst, also wrote about in our Innovation Debrief 2021. ‘The most progressive brands acknowledge that they are part of an interconnected set of global systems and should be continually striving to improve every element of their operations,’ she said. ‘Consumers are cynical about greenwashing tactics, and expect concrete, resourceful solutions from brands that place planet and people first instead of their bottom line.’
For brands, it means that material innovation isn’t just a way to prevent irreversible damage to our climate; it can also realise extra value and build deeper relationships with consumers. In other words, it’s a way to build the New Extra-ordinary and accelerate society forward.
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