Aces of Space

Phygital will gain momentum in years to come

“If you want to stand out or build a new brand today,

virtual spaces seem like the new frontier.”


- Matthew Ball, Managing Partner, Epyllion Industries





Designing for the future is ingrained in the Ace of Space DNA. And when it comes to understanding just what macrotrends are emerging globally, we turn to one of the world’s most recognized futures consultancies, The Future Laboratory’s, annual trends reports to ensure we have the knowledge and understanding of market trends so that we can strategically align ourselves and our clients partners on how to navigate the ever-changing trajectory ahead.

The Future Laboratory’s 2021 Trend Briefing report confirmed the signals that we were already picking up on, cementing our belief that the phygital realm is, in fact the way of the future. Here is the key foresight, compiled directly from The Future Laboratory’s 2021 Trend Briefing Report that sheds light on the ever-increasing importance of phygital and why it will continue to gain momentum in the years to come – you can thank us later!


“The coronavirus era feels like it has pushed us into a technologically sophisticated, hyper- connected future that otherwise may have been years, decades, or generations away.”

- Ashley Fetters, The Atlantic

‘The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just changed the world, it has accelerated the ways in which we engage with it and the technologies we use to do so. We are not accelerating towards a new normal, but towards a new extra-ordinary.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we have to move with speed and at scale to rethink and rebuild everything we once knew and took for granted. It’s not just possible, it’s essential. Are you ready to accelerate?’

Source: The Future Laboratory. “The Great Acceleration”. Trend Briefing 2021 Report Collection, 2021


1. Alternet Economies

“The world wide web itself is entering its Saturn return, a period traditionally viewed as a difficult but pivotal coming of age passage”

- Emily Segal, Co-Founder of think tank Nemesis

It’s been 30 years since the world’s first website went live, and a revolution is brewing. A technological counterculture is emerging at the intersection of technology and societal change and is decentralizing digital capitalism and the established hierarchies of the internet as we know them. We are starting to see the dawn of a democratized universe of a new genre of virtual spaces for creators, consumers, and brands - the metaverse.

“The metaverse is arguably as big a shift in online communication as the telephone or the internet.”

– David Baszucki, Founder and CEO, Roblox


2. Equilibrium Cities

“The pandemic is enabling us to shift away from the idea of growth to ‘thriving’, which means our wellbeing lies in the balance.”

– Kate Raworth, British Economist

The pandemic has shaken-up cities, exposing urban deficiencies in an unprecedented fashion. Residents and citizens have new priorities, and this requires cities to evolve rapidly to accommodate the demands of a more receptive and equitable urban environment. As we move through the 2020s, cities will turn to new models for building projects and urban planning that incorporate elements of creativity, community as well as physical and mental wellbeing that will enable them to circumnavigate future disruptive health and climate change events.

“Places will evolve naturally as people inhabit them, but it must be done with an authentic understanding and alignment with citizens and customers.”

- Tom Larsson, Design Director, Stanhope


3. Elastic Brands

“If firms are to survive... the mindset must shift from innovation to transformation.”

- Vijay Vaitheeswaran, US Business Editor, The Economist

Between the unpredictability of the consumer, market and employees, agility becomes a key business survival skill. Advertising campaigns and branded content can only take you so far with the post-purpose mindset where the new power dynamics call for a more intimate customer-brand relationship giving brands and organizations the opportunity to transform the inner workings of the business to pilot a transformative future.

“To improve supply chain resilience, 45% of executive plan to shift production closer to home markets in the coming years.”

– Source: Bain & Co.

Source: The Future Laboratory. “The Great Acceleration”. Trend Briefing 2021 Report Collection, 2021


Retail & E-Commerce:

- People are spending more time socializing and shopping on digital platforms. As people spend more time online, digital systems and infrastructure are transforming the way we consume and trade.
- Brand experiences are becoming more participatory, empowering discovery and socialisation.

- Accelerating Technologies has been identified as a key global driver as the digital and offline worlds converge and not being online becomes unthinkable for millions.
- Third-generation web technology is set to transform the way we consume within cyberspace.

- As demand for avatars, skins and collectible content grows, so too will opportunities for commerce.
- Blurring the line between physical and virtual, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will continue to move into mainstream commerce and redefine the market for virtual collectibles.

- The next generation of storefronts built by community coders will redefine the market for virtual goods.


Digital & Social Media:

- The metaverse is about to become a key social hub, ushering in an era of immersive virtual exploration.
- Global online content consumption is soaring, with average daily time spent consuming content now totalling six hours and 59 minutes.

- Third-generation web technology is set to transform the way we consume within cyberspace.


The Digital Economy:

- Cryptocurrencies are going mainstream and laying the groundwork for a mass move towards decentralised finance.
- In a future less defined by incumbent platforms, technologically empowered consumers will trade new assets, currencies and collectibles as they move between virtual worlds.

- By 2030, a successful economy based on digital assets will flourish.



- The video game industry alone is expected to exceed £144bn ($200bn, €164bn) by 2023, with in-game micro-transactions driving this growth.
- Brands are building their own interactive gaming environments.
- Gaming has already gained legitimacy as a cultural community.


Content Creation:

- An emerging class of community-run digital brands are turning consumers into creators – and inviting some to share in the profits.
- Generation Alpha will be instrumental in driving a disruptive virtual economy built around micro-communities. Two thirds of these young consumers already say that they like creating new worlds digitally, and more than a third enjoy computer coding.

- The rise of the creator economy means that people will no longer want to engage in passive consumption.


Healthcare & Wellness:

- A combination of the fourth industrial revolution and global pandemic has powered the big remote, with global citizens embracing online learning and working, healthcare and retail.
- In Saudi Arabia’s automated region, Neom, future residents will join a wellbeing eco- system that creates a digital twin of their health and genetic profile, with AI offering real-time assessments to encourage proactive health management and prevention.

- Embedded technology, data-sharing and AI point to the future Well-frastructure.


Urban Living:

- Centric Lab’s Urban Health Index is empowering communities to track environmental aggressors such as air and noise pollution, using this data to lobby for systemic change while making citizens’ health the foremost ROI for developers.
- By 2030, global cities’ growth will mean urban issues are tackled through hyper- connectivity and networked cooperation, as communities and our experiences of the city continually evolve to ensure equitable living.

- New data-led cities that empower citizens to have an active role in the design and experience of their surroundings will evolve further in the decade ahead with the creation of digital city residencies for global citizens.
- Digital residents will be able to virtually tether to their adopted city at any time. Wormhole Labs, a global crowdsourcing initiative creating a 10D virtual version of the world, hints at this future. Wormholers using the platform will be able to explore cities or neighbourhoods remotely, socialising with locals in real time, even making purchases in local stores. For hospitality, retail or travel brands this opens doors to immersive experiences, such as private tours around cities, personal shopping or business meetings in these digital domains.

Source: The Future Laboratory. “The Great Acceleration”. Trend Briefing 2021 Report Collection, 2021

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