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The Future Supermarket Will Be as Much a Learning Space as a mall

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Design firm Carlo Ratti Associati reimagines the Future Food District as a hub of interactivity and education 

When it comes to grocery shopping, aside from self-checkout, the method has stayed the same for as long as anyone can remember. Now, to keep up with the pace of technological advancements Carlo Ratti, founder and lead designer at the Carlo Ratti Associati firm plans to switch up the supermarket game completely.

Ratti’s creation is part of Expo Milano 2015, a six-month exhibition that explores technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity and how they relate to food and diet. The theme this year is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,’ which was used as a prompt for Ratti to create his proposal named The Future Food District. 

Ratti and his team have worked together with supermarket chain COOP Italia to design a digital supermarket in the form of a futuristic structure. It invites people to interact with and even buy physical produce and features 1,500 products displayed on large interactive tables and underneath digital mirrors that showcase information about the origins, ingredients and manufacturing of the foods.

The 2,500 square meter warehouse-style space is equipped with mechanical arms that spray paint colorful data, which is generated via a computer and fed into the “Vertical Plotter.” There are also exhibition rooms that delve further into consumer’s relationships with supply chains, and also the “Classroom of the Future,” which will “host the young citizens of tomorrow in a space in which to interact and learn.”


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This innovation comes at a time when consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of where their items are sourced from. With the recent surge in people shopping locally, shoppers now seek quality and organic produce that has as little air miles as possible.

The Future Food District presents how technology can modernize the food shopping experience and focuses on the idea of how people make choices. Yes, the information is there online, but if all the facts of a product are clearly displayed in front of people as they’re browsing, this could influence their buying choices, which in turn could have a huge impact on what people consume.

By increasing awareness of where produce comes from, this concept has the potential to increase healthier lifestyles and support local, good quality products and suppliers. Some consumers wouldn’t have thought twice about how increased air miles and international shipping affects the environment, people’s health and everyone involved in the supply chain.

Carlo Ratti’s The Future Food District is on display at Expo Milano until October 2015. 

Compiled in Editorial Board of Retailiran


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