Pack of the Month: Would You Let AI Select Your Face Cream? Identité Says Why Not?
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 08/28/2018 | 6 Minute Read
Imagine waking up each morning with a custom set of beauty products to use. Depending on where you are in the world, your skin tone, the weather, your exercise schedule, and even style trends, you’d have everything from sunscreen to lip balm at your fingertips. Don’t worry though—you don’t have to do the heavy lifting by searching for all of these ideal products. Artificial intelligence could do it for you.This is the exact idea behind Seymourpowell’s concept for Identité, a bespoke, futuristic service that could take the guesswork out of the beauty industry for consumers everywhere. Pulling from three data points—the environment, what’s currently popular, and, of course, your own skin health and face shape—it provides products that match your specific needs. Identité rests under the agency’s “Future of Beauty,” a study from Seymourpowell. “The concepts showcase innovation in different sectors of the beauty industry from consumable goods and packaging, to product and services,” said Nick Sandham, Associate Design Director at the London-based agency.For Identité in particular, they wanted to create “future visions for new beauty experiences,” explained Mariel Brown, Director of Futures at Seymourpowell. “The Identité concept was inspired by an opportunity space we called ‘Own It’ which explores how people are increasingly looking to elevate their identity to get ahead.”They focused the research phase around what they dubbed “progressive users,” or the people who adopt change early on. Using a combination of methods, including desk research, user interviews, expert interviews, and research analysis, they gathered insights into the attitudes and behaviors of these potential consumers. Seymourpowell also took a close look at key beauty trends, and with this information, the Identité app would have the necessary algorithms to select the daily products.
You’ll quickly note that each sheet of product includes an array of colors—these are chosen with purpose. Mariel said the process for the concept was a manual version of what the app would do.“We created three personas, and this gave us a skin tone and face shape to work towards,” she explained. “Then we imagined a scenario for each of the personas. To showcase the bespoke nature of the concept we selected scenarios that were as diverse as possible. We had: a holiday in Tulum, a business meeting in NYC, and a Crossfit session in London.“Lastly, we explored current beauty trends to ensure we were on-point in terms of seasonal color variations. We then over-laid these data points to create a set of colors for each of the packs.”But people are creatures of habit, and no matter how enthusiastic a progressive user may feel when trying something new, the agency recognized how significant it would be to create consistency.“A functional approach to beauty was at the core of the insight that drove this concept,” said Robert Cooper, Designer at Seymourpowell. “Using a standardized weekly box and consistent dimensions of the daily sheets along with the brand's overall look and feel helps to create a sense of routine and maintain practicality.”Seymourpowell selected the font “Ivar” by Letters from Sweden for the packaging. It adds a touch of elegance to the packaging design, but also fits in perfectly with the beauty industry and adds to the consistency aspect. It’s something consumers instantly recognize and connect with.
“As Identité is a conceptual product, it was important for us to create a graphic look and feel that helped consumers buy into the brand as a whole,” Rosie Grant, Brand Experience Designer at the agency mentioned.“Identité marks a new shift towards AI-powered beauty and skincare. However, we still wanted it to have graphic touchpoints that spoke more towards the traditional skincare and beauty industries.”Despite being born from data, Identité looks and feels like something that would naturally fit into someone’s everyday life. It’s easy to use and uncomplicated, elegant and sleek. But in designing it, Robert said they discovered it offered other solutions to the consumer as well.
“While Identité was designed primarily to explore bespoke beauty solutions, in designing packaging that delivers individual daily doses of product on a weekly basis Identité seamlessly lends itself to fresh formulations,” he explained. “This is in contrast to current behaviors of buying a multi-use product that may need to last for months or even years. Identité could allow vast amounts of chemicals and preservatives to be removed from product formations as well as cutting down on product wastage.”Sustainability was a big goal for this concept, as you’d expect with anything so future-focused, and Robert added it was their biggest challenge. “Creating a solution integral to the concept such as returnable packaging as well as failing to address the issue would both distract from the core insight,” he said. “While imagining a biodegradable packaging solution complemented ideas around convenience and freshness without becoming the main story.”
Identité isn’t a reality— not yet at least—and Robert emphasized that some things will have to change in order for it to be produced. “The production techniques are not currently flexible enough to create the variation needed for this bespoke service,” he said. “Traditional manufacturing's emphasis on volume and consistency has led to rigid processes that must be reconsidered to align with the digital world’s ability to provide personalized services and meet consumer demand."But he also said this project and its design process was about imagining a potential future. And while we might convince ourselves it’s only production that’s holding us back, we have to ask ourselves: are we really ready for that future? Can we blindly trust AI to make the best decisions for our lives, rather than ourselves?“The fact we made an algorithm deciding how you look—and how you're seen—feel so compelling and feasible,” Robert confessed, “I find quite scary.”