Why is clinical design in architecture, interior design, and product design so on-vogue, leading us to a Lab Trend?
Let’s put three relevant fields that deliver similar patterns under the microscope. But before we analyze the beauty, food, and digital world, a few more words on common characteristics we see in this trend.
The trend’s primary focus is creating clinical and futuristic environments, almost “modern monasteries for science” for a specific sector.
The trend is now evolving towards a more critical approach, capable of questioning science, technology, and sustainability issues. Lab-grown skins are currently used within the cosmetic industry to end the testing on animals, which is not just an ethical choice but a practical one, as these skins are much better simulations of human skin. Environmental awareness is also behind the cruelty-free leathers created in laboratories that can provide new, usually vegan, materials.
Lab-grown luxury is developing fast: biotech and innovative techniques are implemented to create luxury materials, such as low carbon footprint diamonds or craft protein-based silk weaved in laboratories, such as Stella McCartney’s silk made by the California-based lab Bolt Threads.
1// THE INFLUENCE OF THE NEW BEAUTY/HEALTH INDUSTRY
The beauty industry has its fair share, with a strong geographic focus on South Corea. As customers increasingly recur to social media for their makeup routine inspiration, companies have focused on enhancing the customization and personalization of their products to the point of allowing their customers to create them at home. Also, the increased importance of inclusive beauty conversations and the need for “clean” products around the globe are leaving their mark on the beauty industry. Lastly, as beauty and health are becoming almost synonymous, part of our society has started to see wellness and lifestyle as problems to be “bio-hacked” to optimize one’s health.
XYZ Formula flagship store by WGNB Architects
Photographs Yongjoon Choi
XYZ Formula is a Korean beauty brand aiming to help its customers grow their natural beauty by applying their holistic approach. This philosophy inspires the flagship store WGNB created for the brand. XYZ Formula – the representing image of moisture products – was designed with the storytelling of ‘Permeate’ embodied in the facade. Besides, a design worth noting is a gradation of purple and orange connected linearly and related colors being transparently adorned in each corner of space, causing a brilliant linkage with the brand’s goal. The area of XYZ Formula has been represented based on the gradation of its colors, ranging from purple to orange, to highlight the rhythmical, vitality, and gorgeous spatial atmosphere. This has significant and sufficient implications as space visualizes diverse images and stories coming from a dimmed border of colors. The overall effect is that of a welcoming yet per-tech laboratory able to hack the inner beauty we hold inside.
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Sentiment by Teddy Schuyers
The Sentiment Kit by Teddy Schuyers is a set for making your perfume at home starting from this simple consideration: a bottle of the famous Chanel No. 5 perfume sells for almost €90 in the store, but the scent itself only costs €2.13. So why not make it? The kit can distill fragrant oils from natural ingredients like orange peel, flowers, or pine needles. Then, mixing your favorites to suit your mood and personal preferences is a matter of combining them. The kit comes with the necessary glassware, flasks, condensers, and a pastel-colored stand that will make the process look less like a science class experiment and more like an artistic performance.
Photographs by Naomi Jamie Studio
Copyright Design Academy Eindhoven
Fast Food Aid by Kaibutsu
Fast Food Aid was the first supplement pop-up shop that aimed to replace the missing nutrients from fast foods such as hamburgers, pizza, or ramen. Designed by Ikkyu and Junya Sato of Studio Kaibutsu, the shop doesn’t look like other pharmacies but has an educational purpose: pills are free for customers. They just needed to give the receipt for their last fast food meal, and they would receive the right supplements from a health professional. Kaibutsu created the shop design by combining the street and mad laboratory atmospheres. The space had to feel like an antiseptic room.
2// THE INFLUENCE OF FOOD DESIGN/FARMING
The “lab to table” trend is on the rise. From one side, it is encouraged by the playfulness of the sci-fi craftsmanship, that allows us to create our food and drinks at home as if we were alchemists or scientists. On the other, it is the tangible rise of “Agriculture 2.0” where a “new generation of farmers” is mainly focused on the consumers’ needs:” future-proof” food that is cruelty-free, ethical options able to produce little or no environmental costs for the Planet.
Twist by Pinch Food Design
TWIST collection by Pinch Food Design is a modular design showcasing the art of cocktail making. Composed by the Moda Bar with three additional cocktail activations, the plan focuses on creating a playful experience for guests to immerse in a journey driven by the four senses.
Atoma by Alexandra Genis
ATOMA is a collection of spices that create flavor through single molecules produced by Alexandra Genis, a Food Designer. According to Genis, ‘no artificial aroma’ labels have become a norm in marketing contemporary food products. However, nature can neither produce nor sustain the amounts of citrus, strawberries, vanilla, and many more required for flavoring all the products on supermarket shelves. Is it justifiable to use up resources for the natural flavoring of industrial food products such as ice cream, cake, and potato chips? About 11000 aroma molecules are known to science, of which food companies use more than 2000 to manufacture the flavor profiles of everyday products. Those so-called ‘volatile compounds’ are found in complex constellations in all-natural foods but can be recreated in the lab. The project adopts industrial molecules for convenient use in domestic cooking. A molecule’s 3D-printed chemical formula is cast from colored cocoa butter infused with the same compound. The finished spice can easily be rasped over food of choice or in combination with any other molecule. The first set of herbs consists of 24 molecules responsible for a strawberry’s flavor. Public accessibility of molecules aims to demystify industry while preparing consumers for future scenarios of limited resources. From domestic kitchens, acceptance of new culinary patterns can take place.
Bistro In Vitro by Koert Mensvoort
Bistro In Vitro is a fictitious restaurant with a menu of in vitro dishes that may one day end up on your plate. Created by Dutch artist and philosopher Koert Mensvoort, the restaurant proposes a virtual menu based on food that could be lab-grown. At Bistro In Vitro, chefs prepare exclusive cuts of meat, cultured and prepared with surprising flavors and textures you would never encounter in the wild.
By exploring and pushing the boundaries of our food culture, they want to do away with the idea that cultured meat is an inferior meat substitute. That is why they serve you a digital selection of sustainable, animal-friendly, exciting, and delicious dishes that will prompt thought and discussion on in vitro meat.
3// THE INFLUENCE OF THE DIGITAL WORLD
Digital reality, in all its declinations, is taking such a big slice of our lives. The lines between the physical and the digital have started to blur. Craftsmanship has been updated thanks to the application of digital knowledge to investigate alternative eco materials that can be produced in a lab studio. At the same time, sci-fi laboratories become the new retail spaces.
The Shell works by Ed Jones, Insiya Jafferjee, Amir Afshar, and Andrew Edwards.
The Shell Works is a project by four Royal College of Art and Imperial College designers.
Ed Jones, Insiya Jafferjee, Amir Afshar, and Andrew Edwards have been working on machines transforming seafood waste from lobster shells into recyclable, biodegradable bioplastic. The paper-like fascinating material could work as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics. The material is obtained by mixing vinegar and chitin, the bio-polymer that builds the exoskeleton of crustaceans and the cell walls of fungi.
Though very abundant in nature, chitin needs to be chemically extracted to be available for any application. For this reason, the four designers created a series of machines to transform the lobster shells into different objects. Shelly, Sheety, Vaccy, Dippy, and Drippy – the five machines – have been designed to offer complete control over each process parameter to allow for further experimentation at the polymer level of the material. Although made from waste lobster shells, the new material is hypoallergenic in its plastic form.
Desintegra.me by Margarita Talep
Disintegrate. I by Margarita Talep is a project focused on producing different types of bioplastics manufactured through raw material extracted from algae. The project seeks to replace single-use plastics as their useful life does not exceed 40 minutes, and their degradation can last 500 years or more. This type of plastic currently corresponds to 40% of plastic waste worldwide. Given this, why do we allocate an indestructible material to quickly disposable objects? How do we dispense with plastic when its use is temporary and utility minimal?
The lack of sustainable materials and the growing plastic pollution in the world motivated me to look for concrete alternatives. The fabric is dyed with extracts of fruits and vegetables, blueberry skin, purple cabbage, beet, and carrot, among others; in this way, the generated material is as natural as possible. This helps in that its biodegradation is done in the shortest possible time. This material is a sustainable alternative to packaging, dehydrated food, or objects; its versatility allows us to generate different types of bioplastics, some more rigid and others more flexible, only altering the proportions of the mixture.
United Cycling by Johannes Torpe Studio
A dull industrial building from the 1990s transformed into a retail experience and headquarters for the Danish agency of Argon 18-bicycles, United Cycling by Johannes Torpe Studio. The company’s goal was to make it a Nordic hub for the sport. With this idea in mind, Torpe created a retail space that fosters knowledge, learning, and innovation and, perhaps even more importantly, inspires people to dream.
The showroom is designed to elevate the bicycles and display their sovereignty. It is a space that offers an invitation to admire the products’ technical superiority and inspect and touch them. All elements in the showroom and the product gallery follow the same gridlines.
The combination of precision and the very technical products on display creates a clinical yet ethereal atmosphere, almost like entering a sci-fi laboratory. One wall is a customized illuminated display for eight bikes, and five pantographs are suspended from the ceiling that elegantly display a selection of bicycle prototypes. With the click of a button, they can be lowered for inspection by the customer. Mechanical, old-fashioned, and tactile all at once. Five display elements with lit surfaces and a cabinet box allow customers to look closer at the individual bike parts.
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