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Shopping, Made, The Future Is Here, Buy into the Future
© Rob Greig The Made team lounge on a prize-winning sofa

Four companies changing the way we shop

Ahead of the Design Museum's ‘The Future Is Here’ exhibition, we talk to London's latest retail trailblazers

By Zena Alkayat
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What it does
As chic as Heal’s, as cheap as Habitat and built to last – Made sells homeware without the mark-up. It has scored a place in the Design Museum’s new ‘Future Is Here’ exhibition by virtue of its innovative manufacturing process as well as its on-trend crowd–sourcing policy: vote for new designs, and Made will put the winning styles into production. For the show, the company asked the public to come up with designs for a new sofa, and then some 12,000 people voted for architect Je-Uk Kim’s ‘Lovebird’ two-seater (pictured above). See it at the show, or at Made’s Notting Hill showroom.

Why it’s different
Made commissions homeware designs by top-notch industry creatives and then turns them into quality pieces by cutting out the middle men – agents, importers – and doing away with high street stores and vast warehouses. The pared-down manufacturing cycle condenses a sometimes two-year process into two months.

What to buy
Their new Spun collection (right) features easily collapsible, pop-up, compact furniture daringly held together by magnets. From £159 for two stools.

Where
Ninth Floor, Newcombe House, 45 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3LQ. www.made.com

What it does
Makie creates completely customisable – and really quite creepy-looking – dolls with pull-off, flexible limbs. Built to order in Shoreditch, Makies can have the eyes, nose, and skin colour of your choosing – yes, you can even fashion your own David Cameron doll. No pins, now.

Why it’s different
There’s no warehouse, no factory and no waste – just an innovative (and entirely baffling) 3D printer which makes each doll exactly to your specifications. Makies are designed to be souped up by enterprising owners – just fit LEDs, battery packs and voice chips for a crying, walking, talking, living doll that could even get Cliff singing. Or, actually, don’t.

What to buy
Get carried away with the online design control, and you’ll end up with a freaky looking plaything. From £59.

Where
www.makie.me

What it does
Puma’s Bring Me Back programme (part of the sporty lifestyle brand’s wider eco-initiative) asks punters to take their sportswear back to store to be recycled. If you return a piece of Puma’s new eco-aware InCycle collection, Puma will even compost it.

Why it’s different
Made from recyclable and/or biodegradable and organic materials, the InCycle products cut out environmentally hazardous chemicals and are apparently made from ‘nutrients that have been borrowed from the Earth’ – now the Earth wants them back.

What to buy
The InCycle line is in store now – look out for the fully recyclable backpack (£60) or the men’s Basket trainer (£65), which can be industrially composted.

Where
52-55 Carnaby St, W1F 9QE. www.shop.puma.co.uk

What it does
This digital carpentry crew makes high street-priced, incredible-looking beds, tables and shelves – all built to order.

Why it’s different
UTL doesn’t make you schlep to some industrial estate for identikit flatpack. The products are made at the back of the shop using a single computer-controlled router and a laser cutter. You can even watch your vision come together through a glass wall.

What to buy
Gently retro bedside cabinets (£145), the unnaturally good-value walnut dining table (£190) or this bendy Spline chair (£250).

Where
230 Brick Lane, E2 7EB. www.untothislast.co.uk
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