More recently, we have seen the scientific world of outer space arise once again as a vital narrative landscape. Films such as Gravity, Interstellar and The Martian have fed our fascination with the universe, removing it from abstract fantasy, and instead positing it as a thrilling terrain to be explored. This year we’ve seen the far reaches of the galaxy taken as inspiration for an enormous range of creations – from fashion to food, from beauty to literature, from design to public spaces. The astronomical and galactic have become our new muses.
It is perhaps inevitable, then, that outer space has become a magical landscape to set Christmas within. The celebration, which already has a star at the very heart of its story, has now embraced the planetary.
As it becomes more and more advanced, our relationship with humanised tech and Artificial Intelligence is fraught with tensions and anxiety – there is a fine line between helpful and straight up scary. A phone that can crack jokes? Great! A watch that tells me when to get up and have a little walk around? Yes please! A hologram woman greeting me as I enter Kings Cross station? Hmmm . . . a bit creepy. This cultural anxiety is explored in Channel 4’s upcoming drama Humans which takes us into a parallel world in which people can buy human-like “synths” to look after their houses and their children. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t look like it ends well.
The adverts for the series were disguised as adverts for Persona Synthetics, the synth manufacturer, and the company even has its own website, confusing some people into thinking they could actually buy a robotic assistant. It seems that this series is cutting close to the bone by making us face a reality in which you might really have a human-like robot living in your house and doing your laundry. This was followed up by bringing the concept into the real world, creating a pretend shop front with interactive robot images which could wave at passers-by. Unnerving stuff. Especially as the adverts heavily suggest that the robots get really clever and go rogue.
We were scared enough by Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with a husky-voiced operating system in the film Her, but now Humans places a reality in front of us which doesn’t even really feel that far off. It flags up to us that whilst brands are, and should, readily embrace the advances in technology that allow them to create super personalised products and services, it is important that they bear this cultural anxiety in mind. It will be interesting to see how brands navigate this delicate situation – and whether they manage to avoid scaring their customers.
People are hungrier than ever for knowledge and discovery. They are pursuing learning for pleasure – craving mental stimulation and enlightenment. Knowledge is valued for its enhancing qualities – to learn more about the world, and to enrich and define your character through skills and ideas. The thriving life of the mind is treasured more and more.
We are seeing this expressed in culture around the globe:
The Lost Lectures are a Europe- wide series of underground lectures that push the boundaries of knowledge.
Serial is a new podcast that tells a complex, intellectually stimulating story. It has become the most popular ever, and sparked ongoing debate.
Hendrick’s Gin hosted a Carnival of Knowledge that featured experts sharing their knowledge insights and ideas.
Therefore we think that brands should consider the importance of connoisseurship, enabling a learning process whilst not being patronising. Check out our Cultural Themes website for more information.
Science – sadly – used to be for geeks. It was the arena of the expert, the technical boffin who could understand equations or decipher endless pages of code.
But things are changing. We have seen over the last year or so that science is becoming not only cooler, bur far more accessible.
We’ve seen t-shirts in Topshop declaring the wearers love for Chemistry or Physics, and now we’re seeing it go even further. Rosetta’s recent landing on Comet 67P provoked glorious reactions of joy from Twitter users, and the box office success of Interstellar is putting the realm of the scientific firmly into the spotlight.
Scientists themselves are also becoming beacons of fascination. Recently released film, The Imitation Game – starring Benedict Cumberbatch – tells the story of overlooked code-breaking genius Alan Turing, and in the new year The Theory of Everything – starring dreamboat Eddie Redmayne – will tell the story of Stephen Hawking.
Science is increasingly being looked to not only as a place of incredible discovery, but a place of beauty, of joy and of creative inspiration.
Welcome to 2014
Our job is to look at big cultural shifts, we can see that 2014 is going to be a year where consumers demand more than ever.
Check out our fantastic trends video, and see for yourself.