Humanufacuring – tech with a human story is the Holy Grail
‘IT’S 2020. YOUR BUSINESS HAS FAILED. With hindsight what were the trends you missed, the signals you ignored, the changes you neglected to make?’ Slumped in a darkened auditorium at this year’s Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest event, held at Central St Martins and stuffed with eccentrically attired bloggers, I was suddenly wide awake. Challenging stuff from the chap on stage, Anders Sörman-Nilsson, an eloquent individual well-armed with thought-provoking hand grenades. ‘Change doesn’t care whether you want it or not – it happens regardless,’ he proffered. Many faces now looked up from their glowing iPhones.
Sörman-Nilsson’s over-arching point was the all-important – in his view – humanisation of technology; ‘humanufacturing’, if you will. A bespoke men’s outfitters, no matter how long-established or well-regarded, is on borrowed time without an online store. Better still is an online store that sells the human stories as well as the clothes. One into which you can enter your new jacket’s code and, via images, stories and video, learn more about where it came from; the farm from which the thread came, the farmer himself, the previous generations of twinkly-eyed tailors and the lives they lived. Know the story behind it, feel good that you chose to buy that jacket and not a cheaper, more anonymously sourced alternative.
Sörman-Nilsson’s intriguing future-tech-with-humanwarmth winning combo ran through last month’s Frankfurt motor show like a great seam of precious metal. With it, Honda’s ultra-cute, retro-futuristic UrbanEV concept (p10) stole the show. The appeal of VW’s ID Buzz EV bus (p98) is rooted in the same mix of familiar cute selling unfamiliar tech. The electric age will surely change almost everything, but it might look suspiciously like the icons of the petrol age for a while yet.
Enjoy the issue.