By Brad Ross, Global Trend Forecasting
Based on my last few posts, (The Sharing Economy, The Slow Movement and The 70’s Influence), there is collectively, a larger picture that is developing. A re-connecting with the simple pleasures of this world; often found in scaling back our tech driven dispositions and rejoining with the natural (or more specifically, nature).
These trends are associated with a desire to experience nature first-hand and rebuild our relationship with it. The way we view nature and relate to it is changing, albeit heavily influenced by innovation (from microscopic imagery to satellite photography). This new appreciation is manifesting itself in a number of ways, not to mention the subjective applications.
Take for example the farm-to-table movement that is now extending into farm-to-fitting room. What does that mean? Apparel is increasingly looking to home- grown and locally sourced materials for consumer products that go well beyond organic cotton. And growing our own clothes could soon become a reality with the advent of bioengineering technology, which is being used to develop natural alternatives to today’s synthetic fabrics.
Another example found in marketing/branding is the design studio, 1924. 1924, known for its’ high-profile clients such as Puma, has a back-to-nature branding approach. The typography and logos are based on landscapes and local crafts, using only natural materials (lead, ink and paper) in all of its’ illustrations. The studio's online journal also reinforces its’ branding, with rich nature photography and stories appealing not only to potential clients, but the wider public.
Understanding the power that nature plays towards our well-being, conservationists are increasingly looking to reconnect people with their native habitat. In New York, there is a planned art installation (2018),that will transform Times Square into a large-scale, temporary urban forest, whose ultimate goal is to bring awareness to the importance of nature being interwoven in our cities and daily lives.
Design industries are also finding inspiration in natural elements from raw materials, to a distinct color range that assumes a new importance, with an intensity that is inspired by nature.
And finally, food is yet another way that we’re entrenching ourselves back into nature. Dirty dining, or feasting out in the wilderness, is on the increase and helps connect consumers to the land, enhancing their experience with food. Take, for example, Chef Francis Mallmann. He has been practicing natural cooking methods for some years, but the rise in popularity of this genre has seen a newfound focus.
Mallmann is renowned for his rustic, open- fire approach to cooking and recently opened his first US-based restaurant, Los Fuegos at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach. This dining experience incorporates wild open fires on a beautiful terrace. Another trailblazer is Chef Dan Barber. His Blue Hill Farm restaurant, on the outskirts of Manhattan, allows guests to be taken on a journey around the six-acre farm before settling down for dinner. An astounding, 30-course meal is then cooked and served in various locations, such as an old manure shed or atop their compost heap.
So whether we recognize it or not, our human inclination will always lean towards nature. In a rather lopsided, tech-driven society, our bodies and souls are striving for balance between the two worlds. As the future unfolds, we can expect an increased momentum towards the natural. Not a perpetual camping trip, but a distinct shift to incorporate nature back into our “advanced” world of concrete functionality and efficiency.