Category Archives: culture mapping

EU countries back ban on destruction of unsold textiles

The governments and the European Parliament need to agree on the Ecodesign Regulation before it can enter law. Under the initial March 2022 proposal by the European Commission, the Commission itself was to have determined at a later stage whether to put destruction bans in place.

The treachery of images in the age of AI

“Reality certainly appears to be cracking [under] the speed of generative AI expansion,” says Tim Stock, an associate teaching professor at Parsons School of Design, and founder of scenarioDNA, a consultancy that uses AI to map cultural trends. “We are engineering our future with very little attention to the cultural and sociological impact that might have.” To some extent, he adds, Nugent is contributing to this sense of confusion with his “idealised expression[s] of our collective imagination”

In Tokyo’s “Subcal” Bars, Anything Goes

The term “subcal” is a Japanization of the English word “subculture.” Originally referring to the anti-establishment political and social counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s, over time, the word came to mean something more akin to a hobby. The ’80s and ’90s saw “subcal” gain traction as a buzzword in parallel with the more well-known term “otaku,” a catchall name for nerds of all sorts, particularly those with interests in anime, manga and video games. Once it was clear that marketing to geek culture could be lucrative, specialist magazines, TV programs and venues for the weird and sometimes anti-social began to pop up. These bars became a viable place for many Tokyoites—residents of a city notorious for tiny living spaces and often misunderstood as being cold to strangers—to get together with those of similar interests.

Zara, lies and Fashion’s big new row

There’s an unholy row going on in the fashion world this week, and it’s gripping stuff. It began last Thursday when the Financial Times published an interview with Marta Ortega Perez. Not a household name, but as the non executive chair of Inditex, the Spanish holding company for fashion brand Zara, she is one of, if not the most powerful people in fashion. Her father’s company, which she took over last year, produces 450m garments a year, driving sales of €32.6billion. In the last year, under Marta’s new watch, sales have risen 17%. The Ortegas are the Murdochs of the fashion world – just as powerful, possibly even richer and likely a lot less venal.

It’s a Bouba, Not a Kiki: The Relationship Between Sound, Form, and Meaning

People are consistently more likely to decide that the rounded shape is a bouba and the jagged, spiky shape is a kiki. This finding holds for college students, older adults, and very young children, and for speakers of not only English but other languages as well.

Why Business Leaders Must Resist the Anti-ESG Movement

The culture wars in the U.S. continue to rage, and they’ve come for business. Companies are being dragged into issues that stir emotions, such as abortion, gay and trans rights, racial and gender equity, and climate change. In particular, business is facing questions about its stance on societal issues mainly from the right side of the political aisle. So with 70% of America’s top execs calling themselves Republicans, business leaders now find themselves in an odd position: accused by high-profile members and pundits from their own party of being part of a “woke” or “anti-ESG” progressive agenda.

How Brands Are Selling Quiet Luxury to the Masses

Call it “quiet luxury,” “stealth wealth,” or the most blunt, “low-key rich bitch,” the trend is perhaps best encapsulated by the phrase “if you know, you know.” It’s a pair of navy trousers, a white button-down or a cashmere coat, but made from the finest fabrics, in carefully-crafted cuts, sold at an eye-popping price. It’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s sleek, unfussy courtroom outfits, like a simple black skirt and sweater that just happens to be Prada, or the head-to-toe neutral ensembles from The Row that Cate Blanchett wore in the film Tàr.

Framing the problem (Culture Mapping Story Systems)

At the beginning of the film The Menu, the character Chef Slowik played by Ralph Fiennes commands his guests not to eat.  “Taste, don’t eat.”  Frame the problem.

When introducing the concept of Culture Mapping to clients and students, we are always faced with dislodging an existing mindset that prevents the mobility of process toward better futures.  The core of our method is about having the confidence to ask better questions so that one can make better decisions. Establishing questions and unearthing questions are critical in showing us unknowns. How are we framing what we want in the future?  Our existing biases and the groupthink within corporations are strong forces that erode progress and water down opportunities.

The essential questions are never business questions, they are human questions. We should seek to understand emerging needs over the current relevance of our brand. From there, we can better understand the capabilities available to us that can rise to meet those needs. Unfortunately, without critical upfront planning, innovation, and marketing quickly fall out of balance.

The role Culture Mapping plays is to carve out the breadth of story spaces allowing us to map innovation and reflect on the language, archetypes, and subsequent design actions that can emerge from that knowledge.

In developing sustainable strategies consider the language expressed in the disruptive story space. Think of indigenous food systems as integral to food systems architecture. In the emergent story space of clothing creativity and experimentation, understand material and technique before it becomes impulse shopping. In the dominant story space, recognize how quickly the efficiency of technology can dilute the meaning of diversity through the ease of shareability and memes. And in the residual space, consider regulation and how new policy must include accountability in the sustainability of going forward.