Before the explosion of Emoji – now the fastest growing language in the world (over 6 billion sent every day), evolving faster than ancient forms of communications including hieroglyphics – came Smileys! Smileys were unequivocally the first graphic emoticons, designed in 1997 to evolve the way people were using text-based ASCII emoticons into Smileys that actually looked more human and made sense. These would be the first portrait emoticons, a shortcut to convey emotion and transcend borders in their simplest form; understandable by everyone regardless of language, dialect, accent, gender, colour or culture. When considering communication today, we do so on two levels. Firstly verbal communication consisting of words making sentences and secondly non-verbal communication. The latter consists of body posture, facial expressions, hand gesture, tone of voice and possibly energy. My idea was for Smileys to not only enhance text and bring emotions onto a screen but also to become a new universal form of writing. A real logographic system like Chinese Hanzi, Japanese Kanji or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, however unlike Kanji or Hanzi, I wanted to create something easily recognisable and universally understood by people of all ages and from all cultures. In the era of handwriting, a system like Smileys wouldn’t have been efficient, but with digital communications it was suddenly possible and easy to insert them into any message. My simple idea of creating a visual language quickly exploded when Apple launched them on their smartphones in Japan in 2007, and then Unicode (the consortium of major digital and tech companies) standardised the system and promoted it universally under the name Emoji – a Japanese word meaning pictograph. Its incredible adoption rate and speed of evolution soared from there, as it was embraced by the biggest tech companies in the world and taken to the masses. So what I started as an artistic movement, evolved into emoji and now we have The Emoji Movie, the purest commercialisation of the idea I had 20 years ago. While inventions are considered patents, Smileys are a design process that doesn’t belong in the world of inventions, but instead in the world of art. This is how The Smiley Company created a business model from the concept, because we didn’t have the technology to evolve the property in the communications world, so we did it in the real world. Whilst some people criticise emojis because they consider they will make our language poorer, I personally do not agree. Emojis are used together with our alphabet and that makes our communication richer, because we learn to use different forms of writing. By knowing what form of language to use and when to use it, this can only develop our emotional intelligence So, what’s the future of Smiley and Emoji? As the world becomes increasingly more obsessed with Emojis, and we approach the world premier of Sony’s Emoji Movie, has the point been missed and meant that we’ve forgotten the real meaning and purpose behind them? Or does it bring the emoji concept to children, the next generation who will grow totally fluent in both alphabetical and logographic systems? Like this contributor? Find out more about him below, and read up on his other blog here. Nicolas Loufrani is the CEO and Creative Visionary behind The Smiley Company, one of the world’s leading licensing companies. His father Franklin created and trademarked the Smiley face in 1972. In 1995 Nicolas joined The Smiley Company and transformed the business into a strategically driven fashion lifestyle brand, rather than the traditional ‘nuts and bolts’ consumer merchandising licensing model that he inherited from his father. He achieved this by taking a unique design approach and placing the businesses emphasis on product creativity and the evolution of his London based design studio into the creative hub of the business. In the time since The Smiley Company has created truly innovative and inspirational products that allow Smiley to co-create with the most prestigious licensees, retailers and brands in the world to day. The post Emojis: Transcending borders through a universal visual language appeared first on WGSN Insider. http://ift.tt/2uoCWxW

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As Instagram Stories hits its first birthday it seems that the Facebook-owned operation has now surpassed the Snapchat app that inspired it and is a key part of the overall Instagram offer. The company said that Stories has boosted average Instagram usage to 32 minutes a day for the under-25s and 24 minutes for those aged 25 and over. Meanwhile, half of the businesses present on Instagram have produced a Story during the last month. That time spent on the app is a key sales message when targeting advertisers who like to hear that their product might be in front of users for longer on Instagram than on its rivals. While Snapchat’s share price has dropped and its active user growth rate fallen from 17.2% a quarter to only 5%, Instagram Stories seems to be riding high. It has 250m daily users, 84m more than Snapchat. So what’s drawing people to Instagram overall? Well they seem to love features like the puppy ears filter (which is the number one filter), bunny ears (number three) and koala ears (number five). The Sleep Mask filter and Love (with heart-shaped darts) are at number two and four, respectively. And Instagram Direct is also helping it to win users users from Snapchat. The virtual message service that was also inspired by Snapchat now has 375m monthly users. And in a Stories synergy, it seems that 20% of Instagram Stories posted by a business get a Direct Message reply, which is also boosting usage and ad opportunities. Facebook also released some other data on Stories’ first birthday. It seems that the highest engagement rate for Stories when it comes to fashion is enjoyed by models, actresses and social media celebs, although a few luxury brands get onto the list too. Looking at the top accounts (those with 10m or more followers), the cumulative number of Stories views in the past 12 months put model and actress Emily Ratajkowski at the top of the list with Chiara Ferragni second and Candice Swanepoel third. Hailey Baldwin, Cara Delevingne, Adriana Lima, Victoria Beckham, Miranda Kerr and Gigi Hadid are next, with the first brand only showing up at number 10. That’s Dior, just ahead of Dolce & Gabbana. Kendall Jenner and Gisele Bundchen are next with Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin rounding out the top 15. The post Instagram Stories celebrates its one year birthday and sees major growth appeared first on WGSN Insider. http://ift.tt/2vwMHzq

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Clean eating, wellness and respect for the planet are high in today’s consumers’ agenda. So it’s no surprise this resonates with parents looking for environmentally conscious and more socially responsible products for their kids’ rooms. With parents becoming increasingly environmentally aware when it comes to their kids’ products and surroundings, more and more brands are working towards incorporating better and greener processes into their production chains, in order to meet their needs. Products often result more costly than average ones, nonetheless eco-savvy parents are happy to invest in slightly more expensive products, as they feel these are going to pay back with a longer product life-span, while contributing to a safer environment for their little ones ( and a happier planet). This also taps into a bigger conversation around taking a stand on overconsumption and consumers embracing the idea of buying into buying less. As a result of this, more and more eco-friendly brands are embracing an honest and pared-back approach to design, promoting simple products and untreated surfaces that bring materials into the spotlight in their most authentic form – with no need for a major renovation as kids grow. This direction started off with bedding and textiles, expanding into furniture and more recently also paints and carpeting have joined the green movement, offering more sustainable alternatives that look at leaving VOCs and toxins out of the kids’ room. Here are three of our favourite brands that tick all the green boxes: A newbie to the green movement, Milton & Goose is a US-based toy brand that just launched earlier this month. Their first (and only for the moment ) product is a high-end play kitchen that is modern, sleek and 100% safe. The brand commits to produce heirloom-quality, non-toxic products with a long-lasting appeal, sourcing materials that meet all eco-friendly credentials while still delivering a high-standard, picture-perfect designs. We’re excited to see what the next toys will look like! Milton & Goose Not as new, Cam Cam was founded in 2012 in Copenhagen by two architects. With a good awareness by trade of the impact of materials and processes on the surroundings, the duo’s designs promote sustainable and organic materials, worked across Scandi-infused collections that mix modernity with functional beauty. Muted tones and gentle surface work mark the soft products, from bedding and furniture to apparel, bringing a soothing and calming edge to the kids’ market. Cam Cam Copenhagen At Armadillo&Co, high value is placed on work conditions and socially responsible manufacturing as they believe giving back is the best way they can support the artisans whose hands are behind their beautiful rug designs. Collaboration is at the core of their ethos, working alongside unprivileged communities and local schools in India to preserve and celebrate age-old techniques. 100% homemade with fair trade cotton, Armadillo&Co’s carpets are for adults and kids alike. Our absolute favourite is the Junior collection that combined visual and tactile softness bringing together candy pastels tones with the on-trend oversized, chunky knits. Armadillo&Co The post How to make your kids’ room look sustainably stylish: 3 brands you must know about appeared first on WGSN Insider. http://ift.tt/2uZEEtg

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