⏩ Future Normal: Unnatural nirvana

What if 'fake' becomes a sign of superiority?

This week, a dive into the synthetic rabbit hole. It seems like barely a day goes by without a revolutionary new, ‘fake’ material emerging out of a hot new biotech startup.

One might argue we’ve been here before. During the post-War period, synthetic substances (from plastic to polyester) were celebrated. Stronger! Lighter! Cheaper! A brave new world was upon us.

Of course, then the dark side of synthetics emerged. Thanks to their low cost, they were used indiscriminately, while their very durability made it impossible to dispose of them.

Which is why for decades now, discerning consumers have simply taken for granted that ‘all natural’ is best. Luxury is hand-made, locally-grown, artisan-crafted, and sustainably-sourced. It certainly isn’t synthetic.

But what if that’s about to change? Thanks to a convergence of technologies, falling costs and new attitudes towards sustainability, we’re about to witness a powerful inversion of what people consider better and desirable.

Take a look at some of the exciting products emerging from the lab:

Perfect Day: animal-free dairy

“We’ve invented the world’s first real milk proteins made without animals, so you can enjoy the real taste, texture, and nutrition of dairy, produced sustainably, without the downsides of factory farming, lactose, hormones, or antibiotics.”

MeliBio: bee-free honey

“We harness microbiology to reinvent a 9,000 year-old craft. MeliBio honey matches and improves upon the molecular composition of bee-made honey”

Shiok Meats: lab-grown shrimp

“‘Shiok’ in Singapore and Malay slang means fantastic, delicious, and simply, pleasure. Our mission is to bring delicious, clean, and healthy seafood to your table, using our technology to grow meat from healthy cells instead of animals. Same great taste, better for the planet!”

Hoxton Farms: real animal fat, without the animals

“Starting from just a few cells, we grow purified animal fat in bioreactors to produce a delicious, cruelty-free and sustainable ingredient. Fat is magic. It’s the secret to delicious food. Plant oils aren’t a good replacement: the world needs a clean source of animal fat to create meat alternatives that look, cook and taste like the real thing.”

GALY: lab-grown cotton

“We create lab-grown applications to disrupt the industry and honor Mother Earth.

Spiber: Brewed Protein fibers

“Brewed Protein can be processed into a variety of forms, with examples ranging from delicate filament fibers with a silky sheen to spun yarns that boast features such as cashmere-like softness or the renowned thermal and moisture-wicking properties of wool.”

Modern Meadow: Zoa biofabricated leather

“Our biofabrication process creates materials with enhanced performance and sustainability profiles compared to traditional materials.“

VitroLabs: lab-grown leather

Fact: We can make billions of square feet of leather with a single, harmless biopsy from one cow. With the help of a happy, healthy animal, we reproduce the natural conditions that allow those skin cells to regenerate indefinitely.

And it’s not just food and fashion. From synthetic DNA to synthetic kerosene, new fabricated and engineered materials will offer solutions that are better than their natural equivalents on key dimensions such as durability and performance, or ethics and sustainability.

In The Future Normal, will your brand focus on authenticity? Or will you celebrate your very inauthentic superiority?