Tablescaping, Cottagecore, Everesting: 3 Unexpected Lockdown Trends and what they mean to us
As a team of people curious both by nature and by profession, we spend quite a fair bit of time looking at trends from all possible angles. Recently, we’ve studied the viral Everything is Cake twitter trend, the post-COVID future of Home, and ugly fashion. Now that we’re nearing the end of August, the Quilt.AI team looks back on some of the trends we’ve loved talking about this quarter.
Analysing hundreds of posts from instagram hashtags #cottagecore, #everesting and #tablescaping with our Cultural AI, here are our thoughts:
1 — Cottagecore
Cottagecore, as the word suggests, is a desire for the cottage life, a desire for the pastoral aesthetic.
Our research on trends in the Asia-Pacific region revealed that initial spurts of the trend began in December last year, followed by a slow rise in interest in the first quarter of the year. The Covid-19 pandemic appears to be catalytic in Cottagecore’s boom: From March this year, search interest for the trend increased exponentially, shooting up on a steep rising curve that continued into mid 2020.
The younger millennial and Gen Z demographics appear to be the key adopters of this trend- and as inheritors of Hustle Culture and pressure-cooker work and school environments, Cottagecore perhaps means Rebellion.
Results from our Culture AI emoji analysis reveals a slew of wholesome, earthy symbols. We see flowers, bees, leaves and hearts used frequently. What’s interesting is that the top emoji appears to be sparkles ✨ — signifier of magic and a sense of wonder.
Hashtag and topic analysis also reveal hashtags like #fairycore and topics like anime popping up, fellow signifiers indicating. What this signals is that cottagecore is not just a mere desire for the idyll and a coming rural renaissance. Cottagecore seems to hold meaning as a fantastical paradise too.
However, instead of futuristic, unrealistic mystical lands, the site of escapist fantasies in our pandemie-stricken world appears to be the most earthen mundane of mundanes. Utopia is not some faraway place in a new world, Utopia sits on Planet Earth, far removed from 21st century hyper urban city life.
2 — Everesting
Just as #Cottagecore saw a boom in March, so did worldwide interest in Everesting. This trend is one for fitness endurance junkies. This trend has a skew towards European countries: curiosity in Everesting is strong in North Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Belgium and Croatia.
Otherwise called the Everest Challenge, cyclists pick a hill of their choice, cycle up and down multiple times in order to climb the equivalent of Mount Everest (20,029 feet, or 8,848 meters for our metrically inclined friends).
What this seems to us is a pure love for endurance- Challenge for challenge’s sake, not for competition. After all, bragging rights for pedalling up and down the hill behind your house steeply differs from bragging rights for scaling the actual Mount Everest.
Scanning through hundreds of images tagged #everesting on Instagram, our Cultural AI saw some interesting things. Emotion AI analysis revealed that affiliation and solitude emerged as first and second most frequently detected emotions in these posts.
Posts tagged affiliation featured cyclist pairs and small groups, indicating that Everesting might be the sunday brunch get-together equivalent in the world of endurance athletes. We see that Everesting is an avenue for introspection as well: posts tagged solitude often featured the cyclist alone, in mid to long distance shots, set against a backdrop of impressive scenery.
3 — Tablescaping
With people spending more and more time at home, more of home life gets photographed, and tablescaping ensures that one’s dining table will be a treat for the eyes. For those who have the financial means to indulge in decoration, posting pictures of expensive ingredients and catering is not enough. Elaborate centrepieces, candlesticks and glassware create a dining experience fit for royalty.
Readings from our Culture AI reveal that the top characteristic detected in #tablescaping posts on instagram was creativity- a tag we often see emerging most in art posts. What this tells us is that the posts flaunting intricate table displays have some semblances of art pieces, indicating a decorative, ornamental appeal.
These are tables that are intended to be looked at and admired- and might we add, not for a scandi-minimalist aesthetic a là Marie Kondo, but a full on maximalist art aesthetic.
In the post-lockdown stage now where more people are able to meet and gather in larger groups, table-scaping is seeing a surge in demand. Targeted at affluent folk, tablescaping companies have been catering to those who prefer their at-home get-togethers posh and want to show it to the world.
What can luxury brands learn from this?
Knowing that people are going to be cautious about socialising in public spaces like restaurants and pubs, the tablescaping industry cleverly positions itself as a worthy alternative, offering all of the luxurious atmosphere and none of the crowd.
It would be interesting to see how brands might explore offering made-to-order luxury experiences in adjacent industries of entertainment and wellness services.
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