The future, now: 10 lifestyle trends

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01 Sensory branding

It's easy to filter out advertising from our lives with technology such as anti-pop-up programmes for the internet and hard-drive recorders for digital TV. This is leading the way for what experts are calling "sensory branding". Ever noticed how smoothly and luxuriously certain compacts shut? Well, the cosmetics company Becca spends huge sums getting this sensory detail just right. As researchers such as Erik Du Plessis uncover new insights into how the brain responds to advertising, expect more marketing that appeals to all five senses.

02 Extreme connoisseurs

As men begin to connect with the kitchen, the more engaged are becoming "extreme connoisseurs". These men see food connoisseurship as an indicator of virility, believing that cooking involves concepts such as (in their own words) science, technology, chemistry, rhythm and design. They refer to dishes being "done to plan" or "built" properly. They will smoke trout and venison in their own smoke-house (or garden shed) and make sausages from scratch. Extreme connoisseurs search for specialised food shops that only sell chillies, complete sausage making kits or bread tins.

03 Nu austerity

We are seeing the rise of thrifty economics as a chic lifestyle alternative. Germany's latest best-selling cookery title, the Hart(z) IV cookbook, tells consumers how to serve up low-cost dishes and improvised meals using produce such as dandelions and rocket leaves picked from roadsides. Stylish New Yorkers are gathering at bitch'n'swap parties where unwanted garments and hot gossip are exchanged. On the British high street, super-chic women such as US Vogue contributing editor, Sarah Mower, are raving about bagging bargains at the distinctly budget Primark chain.

04 NENs

Creative entrepreneurs traditionally hubbed together in metropolitan centres in order to work with like-minded people and enjoy a neighbourhood vibe that espoused their way of life. While such areas continue to develop we are also witnessing a trend whereby the creative professional, once established, takes their work where they want their life to be. Thus a generation of New Entrepreneurial Nomads (NENs) might be found living near the surf of Cornwall, the peaks of Derbyshire or the beaches of Australia's Gold Coast.

05 New collectibles

One generation's ephemera is the next's bad taste. And from this a new aesthetic grows - one that gently mocks the old, while taking its most sentimental elements and making them into something warm and whimsical. So designers are referencing ornamental familiars - the hare, the squirrel, the mantel clock - in ways that draw our attention to the patterns and finishes and surfaces that once repelled us. Hella Jongerius' animal plates for Nymphenburg symbolise this. Likewise Studio Job's Piggy Bank or Jurgen Bey's coffee and tea set that even your granny might think was tacky.

06 Surreal sells

For brands, product designers and retailers, delivering emotion and memorable experiences is now as important as sales per square foot. In the Viktor & Rolf store in Milan, retail philosophy is being turned on its head, literally. Crystal chandeliers spring from the floor, while chairs dangle from the ceiling. The Italian design firm Fornasetti, also sensing the return to all things magical, has released a series of plates that capture the retro-surrealism of its founder.

07 Stepford husbands

The Stepford husband is compliant, considerate in the bedroom and good around the house; in theory, the perfect man. The problem for these men is that as women have taken over some of the traditional male roles in relationships, they have also developed more of the attitudes traditionally attributed to men. Stepford husbands have found that women are increasingly calling the shots in relationships, as in fact they no longer need a committed partner either for financial support or to start a family. Bad luck, fellas.

08 Techno toilets

The luxury bidet/toilet hybrid market has yet to take off in the US and Europe but in Japan it is big business. Toto, the country's largest toilet manufacturer, has already released its Washlet range, featuring in-built heated seats, blowdryers, automatic seat-lifters and musical capabilities to hide any embarrassing fanfares. Matsushita Electric has developed a toilet, targeted at diabetics, that tests the levels of glucose in urine. Another model in the pipeline will be networked, so information can be sent directly to your doctor. Roughly a third of all Japanese homes have a techno toilet costing up to £2,000.

09 FMGFs

With the fast-food industry under fire as never before, the world's top chefs and retailers are looking at new gastronomic concepts in take-away dining. Ferran Adria, of El Bulli fame, has opened Fast Good in Madrid, offering convenience foods such as premium-quality hamburgers and bocadillos made from locally sourced produce. Maison Blanc is set to open its first fast "good food" concept this year in London. And Chicago-based Cereality allows customers to mix and match a wide variety of cereals, toppings and milk types and is proving a winning formula in university towns.

10 Taxidermy

Victoriana, cabinets of curiosities and taxidermy are adorning interiors in a reaction to the stark interiors of the past 10 years. Spearheading this trend is top taxidermist Emma Hawkins who has worked with Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo on the Dover Street Market store in London's Mayfair, where curiosities sit alongside designer clothing.

Report by Tom Greatrex, Alf Tong and Chris Sanderson of The Future Laboratory, one of Europe's top trend, brand and futures strategies consultancies. Visit

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