Aesthetic Aha´s!


Each week we at A.I. Labs share news stories that relate, in one way or another, to ‘the Business of Aesthetics.’ Sometimes the connections are clear: for example, stories on design and retail trends. But most of the stories we clip are only vaguely connected to the concept of aesthetics. These are the ones we find particularly interesting. We refer to them as our “Aesthetic Aha’s!”

A few of our “Aha’s” have made their way into our weekly newsletters, but the vast majority end up in our ever-expanding reference library. Earlier this week, I decided to take a look through the stacks of articles that we collected in 2021, and come up with a list of my biggest “Aesthetic Aha’s of the Year.” Here are my top four:


Aha #1: How Covid Turned Smell into a Superpower

Prior to the pandemic, most people cited smell as their least important sense. In fact, in a 2011 study, the majority of respondents went so far as to say that smell was less valuable to them than their technological devices.

It turns out they were wrong. Covid-19 has proven that anosmia (loss of smell) doesn’t just affect appetite, but can impair our mental and physical health as well. In fact, almost half of those afflicted with anosmia report feelings of depression and anxiety. Loss of smell also changes brain chemistry and can diminish motor control. One study found that older adults with a poor sense of smell had a 46% higher chance of dying within a decade than those without smell loss.

My resolution for 2022? Take time each and every day to “stop and smell the roses!”


Aha #2: The Pleasure of Tuning in with Our Ears, While Tuning Out Everything Else

What accounts for the surge in podcasts, audio books and other audio platforms? After all, the power of storytelling is nothing new. It predates reading and writing by about 30,000 years. And, traditional radio has been around for more than 100 years, though declining in listenership for at least 50.

I believe the widespread growth in audio platforms is a counter reaction to two other major movements: excessive screen time and loneliness. Apropos the former, our eyes are constantly being bombarded by streams of pixelated images and are outright exhausted.

Compounding our stress levels, working-from-home, quarantining and social distancing have deprived us of social connection and led to an epidemic of loneliness. Research shows that one way to combat feelings of loneliness is through sound. As it turns out, audio stimulation fosters feelings of intimacy and creates the perception of a social atmosphere.

On that note, next time you’re feeling down, consider listening to our podcast, which airs weekly on SiriusXM.

Aha #3: Color Wars Among Trend-Spotters

For the first time in recent history, the “Queen of Color” Pantone is facing intense competition when it comes to selecting “the color of the year.”

Indeed, a host of other players – including Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and even Etsy – have entered the fray and issued their own forecasts for the color of 2022. The range of predictions are as divergent as are the predictors.

Pantone, for example, selected Very Peri as its official color of 2022, citing it for its ability to “foster creativity.” Contrast that with Benjamin Moore’s 2022 pick — October Mist — which it too says “encourages creativity.”

The nature of this competition begs the question: what makes anyone an authority when it comes to such an elusive and subjective topic like color preference? And what’s to stop me from declaring that my own favorite hue – Emerald Green – is the truest source of creative inspiration and therefore “the most official of the official colors of 2022”?

Aha #4: Consensual Hallucination of the Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg may be trying to colonize our minds with his metaverse, but can he take over humanity?

For years I’ve argued that technology, while clearly useful when it comes to solving problems, is utterly deficient when it comes to forging meaningful human connections and creating rich sensorial experiences.

I think this bifurcation is leading to a new twist in the concept of “digital divide.” We’re moving from a world of ‘haves and have-nots’ to one of ‘wants and want-nots’.’

From an investment standpoint, I believe the biggest gains in the next 5 to 10 years will be reaped from those that focus on businesses built on creativity, originality, and a human touch. After all, they’re the ones that can and will deliver the one thing people continue to seek: aesthetic delight.

As always, I thank you for joining me on this aesthetic movement. Together, let’s find new ways in 2022 to incorporate more creativity, originality and humanity in our own lives and businesses.

Cheers to a delightful year ahead!

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