Intriguing innovations from places the world over

March 2021

At MindFolio, we're always scanning real estate trends to see how we can shape and reimagine places better

As a part of our visioning approach, we take innovations from around the world and think ‘so what?’ i.e. how can these inspire us to create ideas (big and small) and propositions that future-proof destinations for decades to come. Here are three such instances that have recently piqued our curiosity.


On Running take the next step in immersive in-store experiences

A man jogs towards camera inside ON Experience Store NYC, with the 62 foot long magic wall to his left

On NYC: Image courtesy of Tjorven Vhldieck, On Running


At On Running’s NYC flagship, shoppers can have their gait cycle analysed, shoe size measured and purchase their perfect trainer – all without human contact – within moments. A 62ft long wall, complete with hidden tech, performs the analysis as runners stride past, an invisible foot scanner identifies shoe size, customers browse shoe styles on the magic wall and a contactless NFC device completes the order.

So what?

These are exciting times for retail innovators, with tech tools emerging to drive new business models (think of operational-cost reduction, contact-free stores for yo-yoing airport stores) as well as very personal and uplifting ‘experience hooks’ to turn passing browsers into buying customers.

Grow, Netherlands

“Light Recipes” brighten the future of farming

A woman explores Studio Roosegaarde's Grow by moonlight, brushing her hand against the crops illuminated with red blue and ultraviolet light

Grow: Image courtesy of Daan Roosegaarde from Studio Roosegaarde


Studio Roosegaarde’s Grow not only transforms a Dutch crop field into dynamic artwork, it also increases plant growth and reduces pesticide use by up to 50%. The 20,000 sq. m. installation uses red, blue and ultraviolet “light recipes” to highlight the beauty of agriculture while working to improve the way we approach the age-old practice.

So what?

While this has previously been done inside greenhouses, it’s never been engineered as an immersive experience at this scale. Grow merges practicality, science, and beauty in a way that we haven’t seen before. If successful, we could witness similar exhibitions popping up around the world, particularly in the case of animating urban farms throughout the night (something we had previously only seen in Japan!).

Aquarela, Ecuador

Green mortgages promote sustainable living

A computer rendered artist's impression of some resident's terraces at sustainable complex Aquarela in Ecuador

Aquarela: Image courtesy of “Architect: Jean Nouvel – Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Associate Architect: Alberto MEDEM – Humboldt Arquitectos S.L”


Sustainable, biophilic design is nothing new, but offering financial benefit to residents is a significant stride towards encouraging consumer ‘buy-in’. Aquarela in Ecuador does just this. The apartment complex comes with all the sustainable credentials you might expect in 2021, such as rainwater harvesting, replanting trees and solar energy, and it’s because of these initiatives that inhabitants are able to access “green mortgages” with lower interest rates.

So what?

In addition to reduced utility bills, green mortgages offer yet another incentive to invest in green architecture. These types of initiatives will no doubt make eco-living more accessible and attainable from an affordability perspective as well. With the EU recently funding a road map to establishing a European green mortgage initiative, we are likely to see a lot more affordable green projects emerge in the near future.

There you have it, until the next time we spot an intriguing nugget worth talking about…

If you would like to ‘dig deeper’ into how to curate inspirational and sustainable propositions for real estate environments, please visit Transforming it with a Vision.

Further reading

The Red Hat