Imaginary Life

Turning Wasted into Wanted.

Food for Change a new platform in Stockholm. Food for Change is a CSR platform for businesses connecting waste food with people in need. Local supermarkets explore how to reuse all the waste food they throw away every day, by creating a membership scheme for low-income people. Membership or gift cards for people in need costs roughly 50 euro to gain access to regular food deliveries. The programme invites volunteers to deliver the food to local communities. Many large companies invite their employees to take part in the scheme as a CSR effort.

A few other examples of green initiatives turning wasted into wanted:

Networks: The carpet manufacturer Interface has created a sustainable line of products called Net-Works. Net-Works is the first step in creating a truly restorative loop in carpet tile production, whilst cleaning up oceans and beaches of plastic and creating financial opportunities for informal economies; some of the poorest people in the world.

A firm in Brazil, Arteplas, is taking plastic bottles out of landfills and repurposing them as high quality rope. Treehugger reports that their product is both higher quality and cheaper than traditional rope constructed from fibres. Arteplas have independent analysis from a third party assessor showing that their recycling processes for rope use 70% less energy than ropes from virgin materials. Their plant employing up to 400 local people. The quality of the product, is proven in the success of the company and its applied use across different industries.

Blest. Making oil from waste plasticsTypically made from petroleum, it is estimated that 7% of the world’s annual oil production is used to produce and manufacture plastic. That is more than the oil consumed by the entire African continent. A Japanese company called Blest created a small, very safe and easy-to-use machine that can convert several types of plastic back into oil. Amazing. A machine like this would be invaluable to informal waste pickers the world over, allowing them to add value to collected plastics.

Financiamento para Cooperativas de Catadores de Lata Cooperetiva Amigios do Planete Na foto Manuel Basílio,Responsável pela Cooperativa e Adivaldo Oliveira  Foto Adenilson Nunes  Data 09/02/11 Local Portão de Lauro de Freitas Ba

The Green Hanger Made in Australia from 100% recycled cardboard, the Green Hanger will be used as an event invitation during Tokyo Designers Week, then as a coat hanger. The Green Hanger eco coat hanger is a fully recyclable and biodegradable cardboard coat hanger made from 100% recycled materials.
kids hangers

Parapu Durapulp pressed chair by Södra in Sweden is a winner of the Red Dot Design award; the product concept is a collaboration between an ad agency, the pulp manufacturer, KTH and famous PR-driving designers Claesson Koivisto Rune. DuraPulp is a new material that combines paper pulp and PLA (a biodegradable plastic) to create an incredibly resistant paper. Created from one pressed cut out sheet the new product demonstrates how a simple manufacturing process can add value to raw waste materials and create perceived value for the hotels and companies who use it.
PULP CHAIR

Eco-Drywall: While recent interest in sustainable building has spurred the creation of eco-minded materials like Greensulate and Cow Dung Bricks, drywall is one building component that has remained essentially the same over the past 100 or so years. That’s about to change, however, thanks to EcoRock, a new drywall material that’s made of 80 percent recycled materials.

Poly-Al is made from recycled Tetra Pak. Tetra Pak Europe pays a local producer to take care of old Tetra Pak. He removes the paper part and recycles and then uses the plastic/metal foil part to make a board, 15 mm thick, flat or corrugated that is used as a building material in walls or roofs. It is water proof, fire resistance and uses no additives in the compression process. They have started to use it for making cow-sheds in India and it has increased the milk productivity with 2-3 l per cow per day! It keeps the cows cool and comfortable, and is a beautiful material as well!

For more cases see The Ellen Macarthur Foundation. 

Seeing things differently. Design Thinking needs Critical Thinking.

Every design process is multi-disciplinary, with a process that aims to take into account multiple perspectives. But how much do our design decisions create negative impacts and outcomes that we would, normally, horrify us – if we consciously designed them?

This is the challenge Design Thinking faces. To go deeper to create zero negative impact on the world around us. Visualizing complexity is a design approach that has always been used to handle multi-layered facts and perspectives. But how can we challenge the assumptions and preconcieved ideas we don’t even know we have?

By using creative methods to visualize dry data, diverse people in an organization can be engaged in critical decision-making, from the outset of a project, but most importantly, when our design is out there in the world. We need to design continuous improvement out on the marketplace into our products, services and systems.

Turning dry facts into deep insights enables rapid and relevant decision-making. And it is only the people within a company who can know what relevant steps are needed for innovation. Doing the right things based on the wrong assumptions is not innovation.

An easy to understand example we can all understand are maps. Maps have to be ‘designed’ correctly for the specific task at hand. Take the world map as we know it today. The Gerardus Mercator’s projection was first published in 1569, and became widespread because it depicts a line of constant bearing as a straight line, which was relevant at the time for marine navigation. But the drawback of using that map today, to visualize new and existing business markets, is that it distorts the shapes and relative sizes of all the countries. The map distorts our perception of the world and how we view people from various parts of the world.

The map of True Africa created by Kai Krause, shows that Africa is far larger than we think. Then see the maps on land area to population, or amount of money per head spent on healthcare, and we instantly gain a more informed picture on which to base our innovation strategies.

The True Africa map by Kai Krause shows the size of the continent in relation to European counties.

The True Africa map by Kai Krause shows the size of the continent in relation to European counties.

The Gerardus Mercator’s projection was made for marine navigation.

The Gerardus Mercator’s projection was made for marine navigation.

Map from worldmapper.org shows public health spending to population

Map from worldmapper.org shows public health spending to population

Innovation is not so much of an outcome, as a process of asking the right questions at the right time, and asking them again and again, reiteratively. Since a company’s offering exists in real-time, across connected or digitally enabled networks, so too do the insights and information that continuous questioning and decision making are based on need to be in real-time. Innovation means never being satisfied with the obvious assumptions. And to break preconceived ideas we now have big data and data visualization.

Although a company cannot map all the potential outcomes of its activities, visual mapping can play a large part in nurturing breakthrough thinking so that a company can focus on what it does best – and partner for the rest to bring in more critical thinking. Critical thinking is what is lacking in Design Thinking.

Data visualization has yet to find its role in delivering real-time information for communications within a company, for critical decision making, or for real time communications between a company and its network, who, in a connected world, should be more deeply engaged in the ongoing strategies, activities and outcomes that bring to life a brand’s vision of innovation without negative impact on environment, communities, nature…existing economies and cultures, and of course, health.

Maps don’t always make good online interfaces, but they do help us understand data in an intuitive way. Moving into a service-driven world, a company’s offering is continuously evolving and data visualization can be used to engage different types of stakeholders in the ongoing process of value generation.

Imagine, for example, a call to action to developers to test and hack a beta digital service “pre-launch”. Or real time, localized invitations for users to swarm around an open innovation event, on and offline. Or adding services by using data collected from the public realm, such as traffic or weather reports, or national averages on life expectancy in relation to lifestyle choices. Innovation as continuous improvement should be continuous rather than be an occasional manned mission to Mars.

Visual maps in themselves do not tell us what to do, but they can help us harness knowledge and creativity to solve critical issues and problems. No market research report or marketing message can compete with factual, real time information. We need to use technology and its designs to help us question all the assumptions that we take for granted- and make sure our good intentions result in meaningful and even destructive activities.

 

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Urbanflow Helsinki

Urbanflow envisions a new interface and operating system for cities. Urbanflow creates a more efficient, transparent relationship between city administrators and citizens – via real time data. Urban screens show locally-oriented and general purpose data in easy to use interfaces that help with all sorts of everyday activities from finding your way to getting info on energy, weather, traffic, public transport, and more. Citizens can also report anything from an event to a pothole in the city. The same urban screen shows contextual, hyperlocal information as well as broader, citywide content, allowing users to peek around walls and across the city. For officials and administrators this means making the city more transparent and efficient to manage through immediate feedback from the city’s residents. Watch the Urbanflow Helsinki Intro.

 

Fragmented by choice?

The dilemma of choice

Interesting article in the Guardian about choice and marketing. And a great quote from Professor Tim Jackson, the author of Prosperity Without Growth: “We buy things we don’t need with money we haven’t got to make impressions that don’t last on people we don’t care about.”It has quickly become a well-known phrase, but in his book, he describes how the never-ending spiral of over-consumption has led us into never-ending spiral of debt and cultural decay in Western society. And moreover, how “We do not have investment structures, investment markets, investment conditions that are suitable to lay down the infrastructure to allow people to make better choices.”

Prosperity Without Growth

It’s proven that consumers who are faced with too much choice, make no choice at all. In fact, the biggest luxury of our age is to be totally relieved from the stress of choice making; stores that sell one thing, set breakfasts and tasting menus, Japanese spa style retreats where your time is scheduled for you, without internet access, and you are told what to wear. What could be a better remedy to the stresses of modern day life?

Read more

Chinese_Newspaper

Chinese Newspapers report on Swedish Design

The articles surrounding the Shenzhen Industrial Design Conference go something like this:
“Sweden: Design for Better Business
Sweden is the first country to become industrialized in Scandinavia and also the earliest country to develop the industrial design movement. IKEA and VOLVO have been icons in people’s minds, standing for Swedish design.
The Swedish designers coming this time are well prepared, not only for the signing ceremony, but also for holding presentations sharing their experience in furniture design, interior design, industry design and other types of design.”

Read more

people

The Corridor Report.

Often when we are invited into a company’s back room vaults to work on a project, be it brand or design strategy or a trend report, we hear about inefficiencies under the carpet that seem to not be recognised by upper management. The sink is blocked, people working at the company are frustrated and dissatisfied, but there is no system in place to bring their valuable knowledge and inishgts back up to the top management and strategic decision-makers.

At the same time, the top down strategies that seem to just be pouring down all the time can feel like nothing more than ad-style slogans and internal propaganda that does not address the reality, or try and adjust structures and processes to fulfill those new promises.

Some of the upper management positions even seem to be to just sell in and evangelise these messages rather than to help manage the transition, as if a strategy is repeated verbally and acorss enough platforms time and time again, it must come true. Everyone lower down in the organization seems to understand the problem, but only have a forum to speak (or let of steam) about it in corridors, over lunch tables, around the coffee machine, rather than in boardrooms.

No one dares to mention there is an elephant in the room, even when millions are being spent on imposing new structures, new data and insights, new market surveys, and new IT systems.

The solution, in essence, is incredibly simple. As Lao Tse said: “the door is there, use it.” Listen to your people. People in an organisation are the organisation.

For this reason we have created a fast-track listening device; the Corridor Report. Imaginary Life has a confidentiality agreement when we come to interview people in the client’s organization for this report- everyone is anonymous. We perform key interviews and synthesize the material into a to-the-point report, without hanging anyone out to dry. The feedback from clients has been great. When a company listens to its employees, they find they have invaluable insights and solutions to offer.

The Corporation

Film trailer from 2007: “The Corporation is today’s dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future of the modern business corporation and the increasing role it plays in society and our everyday lives.”

Why imagine Internet?

Imaginary Life is a network reaching deep into the future of Internet and mobile technology. We create PR driving concepts and mutually beneficial partnership models and platforms that explore new and more sustainable ways of doing business.

Forget websites, browsers, files and computers, the life enhancing Internet is everywhere. It’s hard to listen what the technology can do though if one does not know what technology is capable of. Imaginary Life has developed a proprietary process that engages the most innovative new world techies and specialists right at the start of concept development. Our creative ideas are informed and relevant to our clients business and their end users’ needs.

We work with all types of clients, and prefer not to call ourselves a “branding” agency. As a network, all our partners share the same vision: technology, and brands, are tools for people, not vice versa, and most marketing communications is nothing more than a time-bandit: It steals our time and so it had better create some genuine value.

What most agencies miss is the understanding how technology can evolve the business strategy, product development and communications forward into the 21st century, with a new and refreshed focus on development. For us, it is exactly that process of consolidation that is ”integration” – and not pushing out the same ad message into different ”info-taining” media.

We are proud to tailor-make our work to suit every project we take on, and have an extensive international network of partners to do so. What we can do for or with you depends very much on the scope of your needs and ambitions- there is no one solution fits all. What we always do is apply human and technological intelligence creatively when and where it matters to offer the most cost efficient collaborative model possible.

If you have read this far, we owe you a lunch. Drop us a line on: client@imaginarylife.net

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Imagining the future

“The image, the imagined, the imaginary – these are all terms that direct us to something critical and new in global cultural processes: the imagination as a social practice. The imagination is now central to all forms of agency, is itself a social fact, and is the key component of the new global order”

Arjun Appadurai, 2008. Social-cultural anthropologist focusing on modernity and globalization.

Imaginary Life was named after a neon hypermarket in Osaka, Japan, “Better Life” circa 1988. It began its life as a collaborative platform crossing the cultural fields of art, design, film, music, theatre and beyond. Today, we are an international network of professionals with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. All our members share the right balance of experience, curiosity and conviction to change the world for the better. For us, it is an exciting time to be alive – the power to implement change is here.

Imaginary Life is a company’s strategic creative spider in the web. Over years of working with all aspects of brand development, with clients such as Electrolux, Iittala, Nokia, Sweden as a Nation Brand, Preem, and Yale, we have evolved a tried and tested fast-track method for innovation. We apply consumer insights, risk management and creative strategy to prototype integrated future scenarios.

With a holistic view of individual and societal development, we work closely with client partners who have equally high ambitions to evolve sustainable and meaningful business opportunities.