From designer gaming and sipping dirty pickle martini to ‘normcore wellness’ and visiting virtual spas, a top futurist predicts how our 2020 is shaping up
Words by Kerry Parnell
According to one futurist, 2020 promises to be a year of contradictions. Lucie Greene, founder of research company Light Years, says the next 12 months are all about duality, with consumers wanting luxury – as long as it’s seen to be virtuous.
‘The tension for 2020 will be between this major trend we’ve seen towards travel and “experiences over stuff”, and awareness that experiential culture is also damaging the environment,’ she says. The biggest trend she predicts is the dawn of female-focused tech – from fashion gaming to health innovations. ‘Pretty much every aspect of the way we interact with the internet has been architected by a male-dominated lens.’ Here are Greene’s top picks:
The rise of the female internet
Gaming is going mainstream and swapping gender. ‘Women make up more than 50 per cent of gamers but have been woefully underserved until now,’ says Greene. But that’s set to change thanks to a swathe of online launches, including Drest by Porter magazines’s former editor-in-chief Lucy Yeomans, which has been dubbed fashion’s Farmville. At the same time, female founders of tech companies are reinventing online spaces for women – cue new social network The Cru, which joins established players like Bumble.
When the quest for self-improvement starts to make you stressed, you know it’s not working. Next year, Greene predicts we’ll reach peak wellness, rejecting extreme Goop-style regimes for something she’s calling ‘normcore wellness’. While we will continue to invest in physical and mental health, ‘the more militant trends in this space are starting to be viewed as a new way for women to punish themselves, rather than ways to achieve zen,’ she says.
Pandan is passé and seaweed? So last season. Next year’s hip ingredients are tipped to be sea buckthorn, teff and lard. Sea buckthorn, or Siberian pineapple, contains 15 times more vitamin C than oranges and is appearing in Michelin-starred restaurants across the country (hello, Lancashire’s Moor Hall), as well as in skincare and juice. Teff, an Ethiopian staple, is also becoming a hit with wellness warriors thanks to the fact it contains three times more iron than traditional grains. Finally, how about some lard on toast? Your grandmother’s go-to is increasingly appearing in hip restaurants. We’re not sure why.
While ‘woke’ tourism is on the rise, with people turning to trains over planes and seeking to reduce their environmental impact, it hasn’t dampened the desire for luxury one-off experiences. ‘Next-level immersion hotels’ or breaks in ecological locations are the hot new thing. Arctic Bath is a new floating hotel opening in Sweden that sits on the frozen Lule River; North Pole Igloos offers extreme glamping across the arctic glacier; while Awakening Sanctuary in Mexico is the first hotel in the world dedicated to happiness, with guest villas designed like birdcages.
First we had the Impossible Burger, now it’s time for bio-milk. US start-up Perfect Day, creates milk proteins without the aid of a cow and says its products contain the same nutritional benefits as real milk, while using 98 per cent less water and 65 per cent less energy. Similarly, Real Vegan Cheese is developing lab-gown whey to produce the ultimate animal-free cheese board.
Virtual spas and restaurants
As the real world continues to merge with the virtual one, even spas and restaurants are swapping the high street for cyberspace. BreatheVR by Neon uses a virtual-reality headset to guide you through breathing exercises as you ‘walk’ through beautiful meadows, while Dazed Beauty recently opened its ownDazed Digital Spa, delivering meditation podcasts, yoga classes and interactive colour therapy. Online-only restaurants are getting in on the act, too. Ghost Burger is the latest digital eatery in New York, while former Uber head Travis Kalanick is behind CloudKitchens – a start-up of ghost restaurants. ‘The traditional rules for bringing a product to market are changing,’ says Greene.
If you fancy a drink without the hangover, how about an electrolyte margarita? Venues like Sketch are now blending fermented headache-free formulas, and the dirty pickle martini is proving popular. There’s also a wellness beer movement to taste test – athletes should check out Boulevard’s Easy Sport brew, which is packed with magnesium and potassium.
‘Would you like a cruise with that dress, madam?’ It’s not enough to have a shopping platform anymore; now you’ve got to offer an experience to keep your customers loyal. Case in point: Matchesfashion.com joined forces with hip Italian hotel chain Pellicano this summer to turn a luxury yacht into a store. Meanwhile, Ruinart opened a pop-up hotel in London this year, and Moët & Chandon launched its Château de Saran in Champagne for special customers. Coming in 2020 is LVMH’s luxurious Cheval Blanc in Paris, followed by a second hotel in London.
Return of the office
Finally, there’s good news for anyone who works in an open-plan workspace – 2020 will see the return of the office. Ikea’s research lab, Space10, has designed its new workplace around privacy and, according to The New York Times, secret and hidden rooms are the new office must-haves after a Harvard study found open-plan offices actually decreased productivity. Greene adds, ‘Aside from [open-plan] turning out to be unpopular, the bigger picture is that over-stimulation and constant communication are detracting from actual work.’