Brazil embodies the paradigms of the future: space for renewed vision of the professions, revival of humanist values, regeneration of scientific and technological research, a central role for design, the definition of long-term strategies.

Talking about innovation today, as we know, means assigning a creative role to design and creativity that was previously almost the exclusive province of technology. The definition accepted by all, at this point, is that of “design thinking”. Aesthetic experience – in its expression closest to “feeling”, taste and intuition – now permeates consumption all over the world, changing the rules and offering us a market that needs rethinking, reinvention, redesign. In this context certain emerging countries and markets take on a central character and a particular importance, because they spontaneously embody the paradigms of the future. Brazil is on the front line. A market of 200 million inhabitants, in permanent transformation, moving in multiple directions: new products and services, not only for the rich, but also for a vigorous middle class, but also a creative laboratory for the definition of new languages and projects in architecture, fashion, design, graphics, the visual arts, new technologies, advertising. In this path design thinking is very close to the experience of crossing between art, the spirit of the place (genius loci) and technology: it is in this dimension that we have to also rethink the meaning of innovation in a country like Brazil. The various dimensions and trends of the contemporary world, in fact, meet with a catalyst of extraordinary dynamism in this country. Cultural paradoxes, contradictory social dynamics that can be surprising and, at times, dramatic: in this labyrinth of realities, cultures and visions today’s Brazil is on the move, one of the countries with the highest level of development of expressive languages and international exchanges. The success, a few years ago, of the Havaianas flipflops is an icon and an emblem. No longer a matter of folklore and stereotypes, but a positive project that crosses local material (rubber) with simplicity, design and national pride, leading the company that manages the brand, Alpargatas, to make the courageous choice of putting a little Brazilian flag on the products. A complex situation that is also one of great critical and creative stimulation, whose design development is often based on the ethics-aesthetics combination: from the sustainable clothing of Osklen – distributed all over the world by now – to the creative wager of Melissa, which like Alessi in a completely different sector, has decided to work on plastic, opening to collaboration with the world’s leading designers, both for products and for retail spaces. All the elements of this grand cultural kaleidoscope are continuously fertilized and nourished by the human factor, a basic building block of Brazilian identity: from the generative chaos of the Sambodromo (the place for the samba schools during the Carnival) to the growing importance of digital media, as in the Porto Digital project of Recife, the latest frontier of creative sharing in a commercial port. The analyses of Future Concept Lab (that has worked for 10 years in Brazil and founded its first foreign branch, in 2010, precisely in this country – FCL do Brasil), demonstrate that in this place there is room for a renewed vision of the professions and the market: a way of relaunching humanistic values, regeneration of scientific and technological research, around a strong nucleus of creative values that comes from the human and social tradition. Here we can see a central role of design, as an intuitive process that produces quality, as well as the definition of long-term strategies the political and institutional world has managed to organize for the improvement of quality of life and socio-cultural integration. The objective, then, becomes that of putting the Brazilian Way (the Brazilian genetic code we have analyzed in a book done with the Senai Cetiqt of Rio de Janeiro, with the emblematic title “DNA Brasil”) at the center of a new strategic vision that reconciles environmental quality, affordable products, intelligent management and everyday happiness, according to an interdisciplinary, innovative and humanistic practice, banishing the phantom of a purely economic vision proposed by capitalism and by typically Anglo-Saxon finance, that is now being rethought all over the world, to get away from the old logic of globalization that turns a deaf ear to all differences, destroying the specific spirit of peoples and places. In this game Brazil – now the world’s sixth economic power, surpassing Italy – can play a decisive role, as seen at the latest G20 summits. The Brazilian vision, in this way, can relaunch not only the South of the world, but also the countries and companies that understand the country’s central role. This vision will probably be able to attract energies and interest, especially in countries that indirectly, through their involvement in colonization, represented the “other shores” of Brazilian culture: from the Iberian peninsula to Holland, Japan to the Italy of the great migration. So let’s try to define the long-term objectives of an advanced vision for contemporary Brazil: 1) to put an outlook for the 3rd millennium into focus that orients economic globalization in a new way, starting with the unique character of this country, its immense natural resources and its “demographic” energies (the average age of the Brazilian population is about 28, as opposed to 43 or even more for Italy), in an interdisciplinary approach based on creativity, innovation and sustainability; 2) to create a community of excellent operators in the worlds of business, culture, education, politics, who share this vision and work together in this direction: in this sense, the weak point still seems to be the education system, which is too oriented toward private schools; Brazil’s low level of average educational achievement and quality needs to be improved, offering quality education to wider segments of the population; 3) to give the Brazilian system a new dignity, with the capacity to transform everyday qualities into permanent values and virtues, relying on pride and a sense of belonging that go beyond defensive, acritical nationalism; 4) to activate projects of research and consulting, of international and interdisciplinary scope, that can circulate to reinforce the vision and values of a Brazil at the center of the world, capable of coming to grips, on equal footing, with old Europe, with the United States in a condition of decline, and with the other countries of the BRIC (Russia, India and China) that are rapidly growing, as well as an African continent that due to roots and culture looks to Brazil as a kind of big brother. To meet this challenge a path must be outlined in which design thinking and knowledge of roots reveal unexpected points of contact and extraordinary potential in terms of new working methods. Brazil has to build its uniqueness on the capacity to deploy its intelligence on different levels, with excellent protagonists committed to the construction of the future. The web and the new design communities can now play a strategic role, creating conditions of interaction and sharing that exist in other countries in universities, companies, research centers: this is why, for example, we hear talk today of a “Renaissance 2.0”, reflecting the great contribution of the Internet to projects of this type. Nevertheless, to sustain this line of thinking it is necessary to know and recognize a new managerial and entrepreneurial model that defines the new meaning of innovation, through design thinking and recognition of Brazilian qualities. This is a new convergence, after the digital convergence: the positive encounter between business, consumption and design. In the outlook of a future existence for companies and people, the world and the trends of consumption cannot have the autonomous values they have had over the last twenty years, but must seriously contribute to launch a range of advanced, experimental values that are manifested through behaviors and parameters suggested and sustained by new technologies. We are entering the world of consum-authors, figures who by now are also expressing themselves decisively in Brazil, as we have narrated in a book that is being used as a text in many Brazilian universities: “Consumo Autoral”. The prediction that the “new economy” would revolutionize the essential values of existence and the relationship with the self (making us isolated information terminals), with time (accepting the instantaneous condition of living) and with space (encouraging deterritorialization and indifference to place) has turned out to be completely flawed. Starting precisely in the mid-1990s, clear counter-trends have emerged, toward the rediscovery of memory, roots, a dense, slow sense of time, territory, narrative, ethnic identity, as well as expressive sharing and experimentation: in short, everything that makes Brazil a unique, original place. This is true for persons in their private and everyday existence, while in the world of work and the professions doubts and perplexities are only just emerging regarding the accelerated performance model imposed in the 1990s as the new standard of quality and professionalism. The new path will be less exclusively technological and increasingly cultural as well, in pursuit of a new meaning for innovation. It will be based on the five pillars that must orient the fundamental experiences of the new Brazil today, and which many professionals and people are starting to recognize as values of extraordinary evocative force: new perception, visionary memory, public creativity, sustainable emotion, the sense of the body and beauty. Let’s examine these factors. New perception. The theme of perception has become very sensitive in the present design scenario, both in terms of aesthetics and of perceived quality. Perception has to do with processes, materials, details, the new criteria of evaluation of experience. In the new market for “perceptive consumers” this theme must be approached with new expressive languages, with a “sensitive” design that accompanies new consumption experiences. In this sense, Brazil can activate new directions of work, raising awareness among managers and creative talents of these themes, starting with the material qualities, the biodiversity of the territory, the energy resources of the country, the real possibility of an international take-off of the business system.Visionary memory. Memory capacity (human and technological) and a visionary approach (personal and collective) are two directions of growth for advanced aesthetics, and become decisive in their interaction. These two themes should be developed and explored by Brazilian companies and institutions in a new, original way. In this dimension that visionary memory needs to be activated that in the past can be traced back to Brazilian design experience, first with the tropicalism of De Andrade and the architectural modernism of Oscar Niemayer, then in music with the explosion of Bossa Nova, then more recently in design with the Campana brothers and a whole generation of young designers, in Fashion Week in Sao Paulo and in advertising, with the most creative agencies of the Americas. Public creativity. Creative transfer from the private to the public dimension is a fundamental strategic step to understand the ethical and aesthetic trajectory that must develop in advanced societies in order to construct new paradigms for the future. This is why the management and design of public spaces becomes the leading art, a decisive area for innovation, shaping the model of development that in Brazil starts with the creation of Brasilia, the only capital in the world constructed in just a few years, based on a creative alliance between politics, architecture and urban planning. Today it is still important to underline the utterly Brazilian political-institutional capacity to launch and support serious programs of renewal for the decayed, violent areas of big cities, and the widespread quality of the design of retail spaces, also starting with the Brazilian love of sports, as in the case of the Soccer Museum in Sao Paulo, one of the city’s most popular places. The hosting of the World Cup of soccer in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 will ratify the international stature of a country that becomes the emblem and global laboratory of public creativity. Sustainable emotion. Sustainability is the theme today that stimulates great economic and mental investment around the world. Silicon Valley has been transformed into a place where the new horizon is guided by environmental qualities and innovations. In the new scenario the key will be sustainability experienced on an emotional, non-ideological level, through which projects can be lived as enhancements of personal integrity and wholeness, reflections of personal worldviews. Brazil, with its boundless experience of coming to terms with nature and natural resources, is a paradigmatic example: the most enlightened big companies, like Petrobras and Natura, have already been working along these lines in recent years.The sense of the body and beauty. The body and beauty return to seek references in renewed pursuit of the “golden section”, the canon of absolute beauty, which in Brazil often means the magic of aesthetic surgery, a field in which this country, with the “maestro” Pitanguy, is a world leader. Care for the body increasingly resembles, especially in Brazil, a “new religion”, while beauty and wellness represent “salvation”. Based on all this, a new path of meaning needs to be developed for people and local communities, a new sense of action, redefining values and behaviors to get away from the rules imposed by fashion, television and, as a result, by plastic surgery. The new accent has to be on uniqueness and character. Brazil will have to rethink the theme of beauty, in the areas of fashion, design, cosmetics, health, as well as the relationship between territory and food. The same sensibility can also approach the theme of wellbeing and new initiatives connected with personal wellness. In this perspective the challenges of growth, gender, demographics, existence make sociopsychological reflection crucial on questions of genders and generations. The relationship between feminine and masculine – for example – has abandoned the dialectic of women’s liberation and entered a more subtle dimension of reciprocity. This happens in a natural way in Brazil. Among the new trends, we should mention those of spontaneous innovation, everyday relations, quality of the territory, the importance of taste and the body, socializing and the relationship between generations. All qualities and values that are very strong and easily recognizable in Brazil. To conclude on the theme of the future that awaits us, it is important to think about the challenge of happiness, which is becoming a new paradigm for advanced societies, replacing the GDP (gross domestic product) with the WQP (whole quality product). Brazil, in this case, is truly in pole position: many studies of the economics of happiness, including the Happiness Matrix research conducted over the last three years by FCL in collaboration with Senai Cetiqt, demonstrate that Brazilian’s see their living conditions in a particularly positive light, and are oriented more toward the pole of happiness and satisfaction, following the new canons indicated in the past vs. future diagram: _ happiness that divides; happiness that unites _ the gift of happiness for the lucky few; the happiness of the gift, accessible for all _ happiness as appropriation, acquisition; happiness as exchange, sharing _ ethics of individual happiness; happiness of personal ethics _ happiness of consumption; happy consumption _ the narrative of happiness, through ostentation; the happiness of narrative, through imagination _ happiness projected into the future and technology; the future and technology led back to a happy life _ happiness to defend, creating anxiety; happiness to share, creating serenity _ happiness as a “special effect”; happiness as a “special affection”. The basic hypothesis confirmed by the research results has to do with a change in the very model of happy experience, and the way it is perceived: less connected to possession and acquisition of material goods, closer to a capacity to enjoy things together. Brazil is potentially in tune with these results, demonstrating a great talent for the expression of this type of happiness. A non-economic and very emotional, sensorial happiness, appreciated by all the people we interviewed. Brazilian companies have a great opportunity for growth, precisely if they start with their capacity to express a profound character, defined in terms of happiness in everyday consumption, while focusing on productive and design processes. The final hypothesis of this survey is that Brazil is culturally and intuitively equipped to respond to the needs of consumption for a happy future, if it simply manages to develop this working hypothesis with rigor and determination.