Will we ever go back to ‘normal’?


We’re In It Together

“What happens if we put the collective purpose above our own?”

Hey you.

You’ve made it to 2031. The past ten years have been a hell of a ride, and I’m glad I can tell you about it from such a good place. Remember the pandemic? Of course you do, how could you not. During that time, you couldn’t wait for things to get back to normal again. Little did you know, they never really did. Luckily, tho. Remember how stressed you were before the pandemic happened? Always so rushed. How awful that sounds, it must have been tough. Life is too short to push yourself to limits that will break you - how come you never realised that? It’s okay, we do things differently now.

The post pandemic recession made us realise we all need each other. We couldn’t tackle all of these issues on our own anymore. How come we never realised we are so much stronger together? We now live together in self-sufficient urban hubs, where everybody has each other’s back. All of this is provided for us by the government, look what they did for us! We will be forever grateful.

Our cities are greener than ever before. I think you’ll be happy to hear that we’ve traded capitalism for a circular economy. The hubs we live in are part of smart cities, where nature and technology go hand in hand. Think of self-sufficient communities where rainwater is filtered to reuse it, clean energy is provided by wind turbines and we get our daily groceries at the nearest urban farm. No more crowded Albert Heijns anymore, thank god.

We make a living by working in the communal gardens, hospitals, or teaching at our local schools. Some of us work for global companies, all from our homes - offices no longer exist. You might want to rethink your career in the creative field, since only vital sectors have survived the recession. It’s okay, you’ll learn that your career is not the path to happiness.

The economy took a big hit during the post pandemic recession. Luckily, we found a solution. We now have a basic universal income. Finally, no more inequality. Whatever you do for a living, whatever education you’ve had - it doesn’t matter. How did we forget we are all the same in our hearts? Equal income for everyone is only fair. We finally realise all we need to be happy is health, a beautiful mind and our loved ones.

A lot of hubs have fully repelled social media, but some do still use it. I personally think it’s such a distraction - life is happening right in front of you. Do you remember how much you used to use it? The tech communities that still actively use social media, are focussing on the concept of Humane Design. Technology has divided us in the past, and its new purpose is to bring us back together.

This togetherness has changed our perspective of life’s purpose completely. You will love the way we live our lives now. The pandemic made us realise that we can’t take anything for granted, and that the only thing we truly have in the end is each other. We have gone back to a much simpler lifestyle. Happiness no longer depends on success. We practice mindfulness daily, connect with nature and remind ourselves to live in the now.

Together, we are rebuilding society, and we’re doing so at our own pace. We are finally connecting to our inner selves, and we take care of each other, and our home, planet earth. The world is slowly healing, and so are its inhabitants.

It was lovely talking to you. Take care, you will feel better in the future. Together we can get through anything.

All the best,

Your future-self

Conclusion - Rituals

This scenario seems like a perfect fit for Rituals’ brand DNA, which focuses strongly on finding moments of calm in a busy world. In this scenario, this ideology is already strongly embraced. People connect to their inner selves, live in the moment, and realise they need less to be happy. However, in this lies an issue as well. Since consumerism has changed and capitalism has disappeared, people feel they don’t need a brand like Rituals to create their moments of calm - they can do it themselves. This is where Rituals needs to remind her consumers of its added value, why life is actually better with rituals than without. In this scenario, harmony is key. People have each other’s back and support each other and their needs. This sounds like a positive thing at first - but to an extent. The danger is to completely forget yourself, and give up your individual goals and dreams for the collective good. There is an underlying frustration of not being able to express yourself, or being able to go after what you want. Rituals can remind people that it’s important to think of yourself as well. Who am I? What do I really want? What are my personal goals? Sustainability is central in this scenario, so Rituals has no choice but to adapt a fully sustainable business model. Solely neutralising its negative effects on the environment won’t be sufficient - Rituals needs to actively add to a better and greener world for everyone.

Pick Up The Pace 

“What if running fast will set us back?”

Dear past self,

It’s me in the year 2031. It’s been over 10 years since we last spoke. When we did, the world was going through a life-changing pandemic. COVID-19 interrupted your life by bringing society to a stop. It was a time where we were locked down to our homes and where slow living had taken a grip on people. I am happy to report to you now that luckily the world is back to normal again. Since we had lost so much time during that period, people are now making up for it by picking up life’s pace. Life is a hustle nowadays, and those who can’t take the heat don’t belong in this society.

As digital globalization continued over the years, the world is now more connected than ever before. I remembered you thinking that your iPhone was the ultimate device to connect with others. Luckily, current-you knows better than that. Artificial intelligence is part of my daily routine. Whether it is to hang-out with my friends or for a meeting

with my boss, AI-enabled holograms connect the world. I just can’t imagine why you used to physically meet-up with people, it seems like such a waste of time to me! I do feel isolated sometimes because of my solely digital interactions but then I just remember that success comes first and mental health second. Success is defined by performances that manifest themselves into tangible outcomes. It is about proving ourselves to the outside world.

Since there is so much competition within our capitalistic system, it is important for me to continuously strive for the best. Back in your time, the healthcare system might have diagnosed me with a burn-out but today we don’t talk about these topics. We simply solve such health problems on our own, with the help of VR. Through my VR headset, I can simply escape to a safe space where my mind can rest. The influence of VR and AI has changed our healthcare system tremendously. With the edible smart pills, I can now track my health to see what is going on in my body. The only downside is that the government can thus also track my health, as privacy is a standard of the good old days. 6 This causes quite some political unrest in our society, as people don’t want to be controlled by the government or their algorithms. But honestly, I don’t understand why people are making such a fuss about it. It’s not like we have objective media outlets since we don´t believe in regulated news anyway! As conspiracy theories are seen as more factual than actual science, the concept of a universal truth that once existed is no more.

So whether we like it or not, the political system still creates the laws for us, and no civil war, like the one we had after the pandemic, can change that. The liberal, right parties take decisions that will beneficially impact the economy but as it works in capitalism, not everyone wins in this system. I don’t really mind to be honest with you, as I am living in a smart city anyway. This urban hub, consisting of smart buildings that are a world on their own, protects me from common environmental disasters. These are no longer seen as rare but are business as usual. Within the past decade, not enough has been done by you and your people to reverse the fast pace of climate change, meaning that my people are now living with the tangible consequences of this.  Like I said, not me though; just the poor who can’t contribute enough to our economy. There is just simply no space for climate migrants in my smart city. I am not an idealist anymore like you used to be. Call me cold or egocentric but that is just the mindset of our individualistic society!

I loved catching up with you again, it has been too long! I hope I answered all your questions about the future. I am sure you now understand how underdeveloped and unproductive life in 2020 was...

Until next time!

Your future-self

Conclusion - Rituals

In the world of this scenario, Rituals’ brand DNA seems to be contradictive with the attitude of the people in this society. Today we are living in the middle of a pandemic, a time where slow living is the only option we have, and Rituals is thriving. This is the time where our mental health is being challenged and our homes are our sanctuaries. Rituals proves itself to be a frontrunner at this moment by offering everything for home, body, and soul, as their concept of slow living is now fully embraced by a large part of society. This scenario, however, predicts a totally different world post-corona. A world where we are making up for the lost time and where slow living is seen as unproductive. This can be a threat to Rituals’ philosophy since their customers shifted their attitude towards the brand. Will there be customers at all? However, it could also be an opportunity for the brand to target a more niche audience, to play into the resistance that can be felt in the world of 2031. Rituals can emphasize how a moment of stillness can bring results within a performance society. Channeling technology as their new asset, Rituals should focus on virtual reality and artificial intelligence to create a moment of pause, even in a fast-paced society like this.


Brands and Innovation         Amsterdam Fashion Institute