In his 1995 book Being Digital, author and columnist Nicholas Negroponte famously remarked that humanity was heading towards a future in which everything – products and services – would be digitalised. All objects made of atoms (a basic unit of matter), wrote Negraponte, would simply be transformed into bits (the smallest units of information on a computer). While his prophecy may have come true, it seems there’s a growing counter-trend – in an increasingly digital world, people are looking for tactile experiences associated with physical objects.

What is Objectifying Objects?

JWT Intelligence – a centre for provocative thinking which focuses on identifying changes in the global zeitgeist – identifies the return of the physical object as a key global trend. They label this global trend ‘objectifying objects’ – as physical objects are replaced by digital or virtual counterparts, people are fetishing the physical and the actual.

What is Physical Objects Trending?

Hardwired into human DNA is our desire for tactile experiences. As it becomes increasingly apparent that existing in a digital or virtual world can be isolating and alienating, it seems we’re seeking out the comfort of real-life objects. So, we’re seeing people hankering after the physical objects of yesteryear, which are becoming sought-after and precious collectables – think the comic books of the 1950s and vinyl records of the 1970s. Then, there are digital companies creating physical spin-offs of their digital products, in an attempt to enhance the customer experience.

Who is Creating Physical Objects?

These brands are giving people the chance to get their hands on tangible objects, born out of their online or digital experiences: