Uncertain times have emerged and a post-COVID-19 world is expected to see a lot of changes on a fundamental level on how people will carry on with their lives. Taking a lead on this, I will like to share few insights from an EPCH webinar I recently attended on the topic “Neo-Normal – a post Pandemic forecast of Handicrafts & Lifestyle Products “ conducted by the esteemed Dr. Kaustav Sengupta – Associate Professor at NIFT Chennai. The discussion revolved around considering six design themes to craft handmade products for neo consumers in a post-pandemic world which is forecasted to have a positive upturn.
The six themes discussed are:
1. Enabler – enable customers to do their own things
This theme delves into enabling customers to pursue their own hobbies by providing them with Do-it-Yourself (DIY) products and especially options to do things at home where we could end up spending a lot of our time. A few examples would be 1) new-design décor pots and tools for gardening, 2) DIY jewelry – enable the customer to give finishing touch to the product and 3) DIY Wooden crafts – a kit to build wooden products. Also, some design ideas that were touched upon were rain-splashed ceramics, Plant-growing paper, Handcrafted Wood and Steel Gym Products and Seaweed / Dirt as raw material for products.
2. Rejuvenism – Rejuvenate and by slow-life and relaxation therapies
Insomnia and quality of sleep affect more than 20% of the world population. According to sleepadvisor.org, 50 to 70 million people in the US suffer from one or several sleep disorders and 9 Million Americans take prescription drugs to help them fall asleep. Also, a fast-life culture has led to a sense of gloom and anxiety issues to deal with for a lot of people around the globe. Designers and Manufactures can create products for this space to aid our customers to relax, rejuvenate, and spring back to a happy and normal life. Some of the ideas worth exploring are 1) Sleep-related products – Sleeping Bags, Sleep aid kit, Deep Sleep Rug with heating capacity, 2) Slow-life products – Mobile Phone Bunkers, Pet Products for Pet Lovers and Furnishing Products for Lavish Bathrooms - which have become a place for individuals to introspect and contemplate in isolation and 3) Aromatherapy jewelry
3. Empath – Products that showcase empathy and gratitude
In recent times we have learned to appreciate the importance of health workers/essential workers in our lives. We have shown our love and gratitude to them and empathized with their daily struggles which keep moving forward the daily wheel of life in these times. Some of the products that we could design/manufacture in this space are 1) Empathy Dolls and Empathy Toys which helps kids and adults understand and express positive emotions, 2)Kits to prompt mindful and well-being activities, 3) Coffee Mugs with Beautiful Images and Gratitude Messages and 4) Upcycled Paper Products.
4. Home Cocooning – the neo sanctuary
Covid-19 has left most of us working at home especially those who can manage their work from a computer. According to recent reports, Twitter has tweaked its policy to let some of its employees Work from Home (WFM) permanently and this trend is expected to continue in urban cities. This phenomenon opens up an opportunity to build innovative handmade products for WFH customers as homes will function as a bi-utility space – work and live. Some of the examples are 1) Wall Hangers, Unique-looking Paperweights and Home Office Kits to utilize limited space at home to set up work-desk, 2) Laptop Stand/Tablet Stands from natural materials, 3) Terracotta Composting Pots, 4) Toys Play Kits to keeps, kids, busy, Small Outdoor Tents for kids and 5) Decorative Bottle Openers / Wine Bottle Cork openers
5. Candy Saga – for the millennials
This theme focuses on designing and commissioning products for the millennial generation who value beautifully crafted luxury products. Some products that were proposed are luxury sanitizer bottles made of metal and ceramic, crochet holder for bottles, half-sliced aromatic candles to combine different aromas, handmade diffusers and some exciting ideas for sensual furniture to please the eye.
6. Hyperlocal – Local solutions and innovations
Hyperlocal refers to a small community or geographical area which can inspire new designs/products. We need to encourage the local community to come up with new designs that can evolve into new products thereby creating an impact on lives around us. Also, we can consider blending local flavors with international trends to create new products. Some ideas we can take inspiration from the traditional crafts industry are bamboo products (North-Eastern States of India) such as bamboo-based bottles, blending bamboo jewelry with precious metals and stones, and black pottery from Uttar Pradesh, India.
However, the most important thing in this new world is to showcase beautiful stories through our products for the neo-customers who are undergoing a paradigm shift. I will conclude by giving a few examples of breakthrough innovations and products that will have an impact on our lives forever.
Malai – using coconut shell and waste to create eco-friendly sustainable products
Phool – making incense sticks out of thrown-out flowers
4Ocean – transforming plastics from ocean to jewelry
Let’s build an eco-friendly sustainable alternative lifestyle by choosing handmade recycled upcycled products! Happy Reading!