..Now we feel that the world is about to change again..
Story from the Past:
After the financial crisis of 2008 and the followed unstable economic situation, many industries went through a tremendous amount of changes. The volatile job market made it very difficult for the Millennials to find secured and well-paid jobs, and pay back their student-loan debts. This pressure encouraged many to seek new and unconventional ways for earning some extra money. Focusing on supplemental income, Millennials started working on aside projects which represented more convenience and efficiency in doing business. Some of those people turned out to be the ones who created the connected world that we live in now, by introducing social platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Snap. Millenials are also behind many of the D2C brands like Casper, Everlane and Glossier which transformed the whole retail industry in the last decade and developed the on-demand delivery.
The consumer landscape did not remain the same as well. Millennials shaped parts of the customer experience in a way that puts reviews and opinions of others among the most crucial factors that play a role before purchase. As a result, brands are trying harder to generate more of the positive reviews and comments, adopting different marketing strategies to increase the word-of-mouth. The focus was placed on convenience, efficiency and customer experience as well as giving the company/brand a sense of meaning – a purpose that is keeping them work towards the bettering of our society.
Where are we now?
It’s just the beginning of the new decade and we already witnessed devastating bushfires in Australia, an oil price war and a pandemic that has caused not only many deaths and fears, but also led to city lockdowns, people losing their jobs, businesses from all over the world closing down and a stock market crash. The whole world is facing a huge challenge and while nobody knows for sure how long the Coronavirus pandemic will continue to spread or what the exact outcomes will be, this crisis as the ones from the past did, will open up an abundance of new opportunities for the people and the companies that ready to adapt and seize the moment.
Instead of pointing out all the negativity around the health and the economic consequences, I prefer to share with you some very specific ideas that already exist and are likely to turn into a big movement over time 1) because of the warning signals that our planet will keep sending us and 2) the new uncertainties in the world that will allow the people with different voices to share and grow their solutions.
If we think of the Millennials as the ones who turned the financial crisis of 2008 into a huge opportunity to change the world and make it more socially connected, convenient and efficient, what would you like to imagine happening now in the new decade? How about having some disruptions in industries like interior design, fashion and architecture that will help reaching a more circular economy? How about biodesign coupled with science and technology becomes the new big thing that redefines our lives and embraces the idea that we should be working together with nature, in nature and for nature?
What happens when art and science meet nature?
Have you ever thought even for a moment about being one of those people who appreciate exceptional pieces of furniture and turn their homes into inspiring spots with a strong sense of identity, history and culture to draw from? Maybe to some, this concept sounds way too distant, because of lack of art history knowledge, sense of style or money-wise. Well, not all of the exceptional pieces have to be related somehow with previous art and style movements that you don’t know anything about. There’s already a company that relies on nature for the production of their furniture art products. Full Grown creates pieces like low carbon chairs, sculptures and lamps by bringing art and nature together into a symbiotic relationship.
What does Full Grown do? – They produce furniture pieces from single trees. You can order a unique chair and wait for it after it has been slowly grown into its shape by trees themselves.
How is it done? – “by training and pruning young tree branches as they grow over specifically made formers… then grafting them together so that the object grows in to one solid piece.” It is followed by the process of nurturing the tree while it continues to mature, before it is harvest in the Winter and then left for drying. The pieces are believed to be fully functional and to last for centuries.
It’s mind-blowing that the uniqueness of the design comes from the nature itself, using “air, soil and sunshine” as source materials. The humans are left a little bit aside from the art process and nature is placed into the center.
Certainly, bio-design will require the patience of both, sellers and consumers, because it will be a time-consuming process, however this factor will most probably drive innovations and changes rather than slow down the pursuit of unique and environmentally friendly products and materials.
The growing Pavilion
It’s not only Full Grown that thinks of and works on introducing a biobased art business model, but also the people from Company New Heroes who together with the Dutch Design Foundation, built a biobased pavilion for the Dutch Design Week in 2019. The so-called, The Growing Pavilion was developed after many years of research on biobased way of building, appropriate materials and reasons behind the change of view on nature and architecture.
It represents the new aesthetics based on unique natural raw materials, organic texture and color.
This beautiful pavilion was made out of materials such as wood, hemp, mycelium, cattail and cotton and in order to reinforce even more the natural identity of the project, it hosted also other biobased creations including a garment piece, called Living Skin by Aniela Hoitink and a “collection of furniture made from horse manure” by Martijn Straatman, etc. Thousands of visitors had the chance to see, experience and learn about the project which was at the heart of the Dutch Design Week for 10 days.
As nature comprises living and non-living elements, the Growing Pavilion illustrated both as well by integrating also a living program – a musical performance and daily harvesting of oyster mushrooms in the afternoon.
Spreading information about biobased materials and their potential to solve some major obstacles for sustainability in fashion, interior design, and architecture is key, so the people behind the Growing Pavilion have decided to keep details about their project open source. The atlas of the used materials and partners available to all visitors was there to indicate the need for uniting and working together in the direction of living more mindfully and consciously.
Whether or not, the society is ready to switch from its tested, proved and convenient ways of doing things towards experimenting and addressing topics like the call for more biodesign creations, the challenges that will follow after the pandemic will open the door even more to new and innovative ideas. In 2020 and the following few years, we will have to learn how to embrace uncertainty on a new level. While this brings a little bit of bitterness and anxiety, it also triggers this exciting feeling of being part of the generation that will have the chance and ability to change not only the business world with its new way of thinking, but also our perspective on how we should live in unison with nature, so we can achieve not only a circular economy, but also more harmony and peace.