︎︎︎ DEMI KOPPENAAL & PATRYCJA SUDZINSKA / SOCIETY
EMPTY ONLINE WORLDIt is the year 2031. Technology has reached its peak and the world became chiefly digitised and globalised. It is a world with no non-physical borders, and almost everything happens online. The idea of countries no longer exists; hence, the scale on which things take place is extreme. Only the biggest leaders have a say in what happens in the scope of policies. With vast advancements in technology and communication there is a lot of data going around.
The world is ageing and people are having fewer kids, as they want to pursue their career in a highly competitive world. People live longer as medicine has become highly advanced. You can now cure cancer and inverse ageing. Age is almost unnoticeable as diet and nutrition has been developed to preserve youthfulness for as long as it is possible.
Today, there is a president for each continent. Although the world is global, the public can express only certain views. The views not supported by the leaders, get taken down. Physical protests are no longer welcome as they get ugly quickly. Back in 2020 protests got out of hand and so the government decided to forbid the physical protests and introduced online protests. This stopped documentation of physical and controversial acts on the behalf of police, however the government still holds the power and abuses it. In 2031, data is controlled and the leaders have all of it.
People try to shrink their environmental footprint, trying out new alternatives for energy use and materials, however the climate clock keeps ticking. The world heats up causing devastating bushfires in parts of the world. There are growing numbers of climate refugees, who are seeking refuge in Europe for it’s more stable climate. Although growing food locally would help the planet recover following it’s natural cycle and climate, the world has become far too global and it is impossible to change this.
As the population is more overwhelmed and stressed than ever before due to the competition and pressure of technological advancements, they want to escape. Most of the population lives in a grey and empty reality. Those that can afford to, do it through virtual realities or speed travel to chosen destinations. Since the pandemic of 2020, the wealthy population has moved to the countryside to experience the luxury of the natural world outside of the city. As nowadays you can work from home, the world’s richest have moved to warmer climates and even started buying inhabited islands to build villas on.
People developed a strong longing for human touch, as this can no longer be fulfilled in today’s society. You can communicate with the rest of the world freely through digital communication, however your social circle is small and private. Although children are used to this reality, like meeting friends and keeping in touch through online devices, those who grew up with human touch and connection are living unhappily.
Instead of religion and culture, people are now led by brands. Brands serve as a community and allow for growth and expression. They also provide escapism from the mundane, offering experiences to do that through technology and the act of creation and personalization of product. You can now escape to your chosen reality. However, this big use of technology by global companies means that brands have enough information to take over the world all at once. This is causing big trust issues for some older generations who don’t trust technology.
Physical and digital now merge through VR and real time Holographic experiences. Video calls and meetings are projected into personal spaces to make the experience come to life. It is hard to draw the line between physical and digital. Brands advanced their services to increase the physical experience of an online purchase. You can choose avatars that help you with product purchases and provide personalized at-home brand experiences for customers. You can build your assistant avatar and fill in a personal quiz to get the perfect product for you. They can also help you personalize your product by making suggestions based on your personality and lifestyle. Wherever in the world you are, the brand comes to you.
Stores no longer exist but you can pick up your products and groceries from dark stores. In the case of personalized clothing, home goods and shoe wear, you can get patterns from brands and print them from the comfort of your home. Gaming is now used as a strong marketing tool. To unlock limited editions, instead of standing in a line for a new release of a product, you can now play a game and unlock points.
Transportation of products has become extremely rapid and online shopping and home delivery services are the norm. The majority of physical jobs have been replaced by automation. Advanced drones now deliver food and drinks, helping to avoid traffic or extreme weather conditions.
ConclusionFilling Pieces is amongst the number one accessible luxury brands in the age of high tech and globalisation. The brand is now world famous and worn by all classes and varied lifestyles as it is expressive and acceptant. Since it is made for all and no culture or religion related, it is highly inclusive in its products and services. The brand is having trouble adjusting to an all-online strategy. Filling Pieces misses the physical touchpoint they value so much. To recreate this, the concepts come through gamification, VR and AR but they find it difficult to recreate it and target those weary of technology. A big weakness of the brand is that in a highly competitive world they lose their meaning or forget their core as they compete in the market. They want to be inclusive and affordable and at the same time stand out, but they struggle to make the translation. They find opportunity in making everyone feel equally special by giving them a chance to create their online and physical character.
REFLECTIONS OF DEFORMATIONIn 2031 the world became weary of technology, so the government introduced strict measures on the time and use of digital devices. People started abusing technology and realized soon enough that in order to improve mental health and slow down climate change, we should minimize our technology use and furthermore localize our products and services. Hence, our planet is living a low energy local lifestyle. The move towards this lifestyle was not considered by all citizens and frowned upon by those heavily reliant. People working with technology had the most difficult time adjusting to the new measures. Additionally, in order for this change in lifestyle to occur, certain measures had to be set by the government for everyone to shift towards a low tech, local life. We dive into a future where technology still exists but at a limited time and place and for certain citizens of higher status, income or in power.
Physical jobs tripled as a result moving thousands of people from the city to the countryside. Those in the position of power or the super wealthy stayed in the city. Those working and living in the countryside started bigger families to enable family businesses and more physical work force for farming and agriculture. Supporting your locals became the new norm. Big and small businesses in the area are working together in a higher expansion than before, uniting forces and skills for higher success and more localized fashion. People are limited to work in local businesses within a certain radius.
In fact, many people now grow their own food, share materials, recipes and skills with their neighbors. The world became a community and everyone is uniting for survival and support. People are getting creative, making their own clothes from old materials and exchanging fabrics. You can buy clothing in the city but it is all the same, shipped by the government only in certain colors, patterns and sizes and you can only get up to a few items per season. The older generation has no problem adjusting to the latest way of living, as it is somewhat familiar yet not fully the same as the pre-tech world. It seems like a carefree, techfree world but actually what people don’t realize is that they are still controlled.
Low technology means that it still exists but it is not directly visible. People no longer hold power over technology. Take currency, it exists on credit cards. There is no physical money. This may be more sustainable, but gives power to the government as they can control what you purchase, your consumer behavior and patterns. Time spent on our mobiles is also limited and controlled. The authorities can look into our online activities and if they notice something forbidden they cut your session short. Big brother is watching you, indeed. Low technology means less social media and therefore better mental health and total well-being. You can become your own role model or the star of your community. In relationships, people are limited to each other. Online dating platforms have no role in today’s society and you can only date within your own circle.
On the other side of the spectrum, the rich, young and wealthy rule the society. Only the elite can still travel, however only when it is necessary e.g. important business trips. Ordering online luxury products such as fashion or furniture is limited to within the continent and possible only for the government and elite as import costs are too high.
Delivery times are long and controlled. If you want a product from another continent you can only make a purchase whilst traveling and can only take up to a certain number of products. Food is strictly produced and consumed within the local area. Products are grown on farms and certain fruits and vegetables in greenhouses for a certain climate. Water is consumed from a local source if possible. Necessary products that are unavailable, get shipped from the nearest location. Meat intake is limited to local farms and diet is mainly plant-based and seasonal.
Supplements are used to enrich diet in missing vitamins and minerals. Thanks to minimized exports and localization of product, the ecological footprint went down by an astonishing 70%.
Filling Pieces caters to both the Elite and the rest of citizens to keep its inclusive persona. They started using local materials, which increased their sustainability efforts in line with the restrictions and recommendations of the government. They use limited sources, colors and patterns for the ‘mass’, which they sell, in store. Recently, Filling Pieces introduced a DIY line. Consumers can purchase materials, patterns and tools from brand Filling Pieces and make their shoe wear at a more affordable price for a more personalized style and fit. They keep their exclusivity but offer options for more affordable prices and the possibility to adjust products to personal tastes and preferences. This way the brand keeps it’s image of ‘made and tailored to everyone’, no matter what culture, belief or income. It bridges the big gap existing in today’s society.
The brand struggles to make lines for both social groups, whilst keeping a name for itself. It wants to make both social groups feel good and luxurious. It’s hard to combine the two without any discriminatory elements. An opportunity for Filling Pieces is that they can build on the idea of community working alongside their customers to find out their needs and wants. It gives youth the opportunity to learn to be creative and strengthen their craftsmanship skills, offering the materials and technique so they can ‘build their own sneaker’. Offline, it is hard for the brand to reach different markets. International elite travellers won’t be familiar with the brand and therefore skeptical of their purchase for back home. Filling Pieces has a lot of opportunities to build a community and share and learn new skills through collaborations and expand on its offline identity for the importance of the offline world.