As part of our Future of Home Living Series, PSFK Labs reached out to experts to get their take on the changes we’ve identified that are driving the evolution of the home. We recently caught up with Carine Carmy, Director of Marketing at Shapeways. Prior to Shapeways, she worked in digital media strategy at MarketspaceNext and Monitor Group. She has also conducted extensive research on new media trends, including e-commerce, brand management, social networks, and interaction design. Read our chat with Carine below to hear more about how new technologies are allowing more products to be made in the home.
What are the big technology shifts that will change the way entertainment and information will be shared throughout the home? How far away are we from cutting the cord?
Seamless connectivity is the new norm — namely, the constant signed-in state across devices and in various environments. What’s interesting is that we’re increasingly connected to devices that not only bring the outside in (tablet, phone, TV, computer), but also those that bring the inside out, from wearable technology to home automation devices. In the future, that data will get shared across platforms and help optimize your personal ecosystem, from the news that will wake you up to the temperature and ambient track that will put you to bed. At that point, who needs a cord?
What impact do 3D printing and scanning technologies have for the home? Will we be buying designs instead of products?
3D printing is having a major impact on how we live, but not in the Star Trek Replicator sense. I can’t assemble an IKEA table for the life of me, but once I realized I had access to an infinitely adaptable tool like 3D printing, I started to see the world differently. You start to think, “Hey, I can do this better.” Or, “I’d love that doorknob, but I’d prefer it in the shape of an elephant.” (Seriously.) And in those moments of Martha-esque triumph, it’s incredibly empowering to know that I can repair my own vintage coffee machine without having to scour Chinatown for spare parts.
How does the process of making or customizing a product change people’s relationship to the things they buy?
Without customization, the thrill of the hunt is what adds meaning to products. Finding that perfect pair of shoes, or the ideal sound system that will sound great in your apartment but not make your neighbors call the cops.
However, making a product yours by tweaking it to perfection or turning an idea into reality makes the relationship with products incredibly personal. It’s an extension of your personal identity in physical form. If you had a part in creating something, that product no longer carries the negative associations of consumer culture of waste or poor labor conditions. There aren’t thousands of the same product sitting on a shelf somewhere. The product starts with the individual, and unravels from her unique needs and tastes.
Can this shift to service and accessibility enable a more sustainable consumerism? What does it mean for the lifecycle of the things we buy?
Definitely. As we close the gap between creator and consumer, and as information about how things are made, where, and by whom becomes more relevant, an apolitical awareness of sustainability will naturally arise. We’ll likely buy fewer products with meaning because those products will be co-created, and hence take more time and energy. And there will still be a place in our lives for commodities. Soap is still soap.
What do you see as the next big trend(s) urban living and why is this important?
People tend to solve problems they acutely experience themselves — whether they are building a technology solution or designing a product. As the tools of creation become democratized through technologies like 3D printing, I expect the next big trend to be a mainstream adoption of DIY culture. More people will solve real, acute problems themselves, or connect to a network of people who can help them solve those problems more efficiently.
On a different note, another trend in urban living is the rise of detox culture. From juicing crazes to unplugging camps — I even saw an “H2O” store in the East Village the other day –urban dwellers are seeking refuge not in nature, but in creating boundaries around themselves. Translated into the home, this could mean anything from oxygen bars to no-wifi zones, or old-fashioned self-restraint.
What are three things you’d put in your perfect home or apartment?
1) I’m a big believer in visualization. Although I love my Kindle, I’d love to have a floor to ceiling library, with one of those sliding ladders. Actually, a self-replenishing e-book shelf would be a dream.
2) I wish there was a better solution for changing interiors to reflect seasons — an easier way to change the paint, the art on the walls, the stuff on the shelves without accruing more stuff.
3) An indoor-outdoor garden, a treehouse, or indoor hammock. Basically anything to create the illusion of the tropics while enabling me to maintain the ease of the NYC subway system.
PSFK has announced the latest in a series of trend reports. Following studies into retail, social media, gaming, work and mobile, the PSFK Labs consulting team have generated the Future of Home Living report. That report manifests as a free summary presentation, an in-depth downloadable PDF and an exhibition in New York City that runs to August 16.
RSVP below to take a tour of the exhibition at 101W15th.