Culture Dots is a niche outfit, based in London that specialises in trend research. They curate themed immersive experiences, throughout the city, which explore emerging trends, offering insights and learnings across different categories and with a large order of engaging discussion on the side.

Each walk visits 5 locations that represent the specific theme, in a 360 sensory adventure.

Culture Dots recently ran a trend immersion walk in Hackney, east London, which explored the concept of ‘Community and Collaboration’ through creativity, visiting specially selected businesses innovating in this space.

First stop was Twigs – a food spot and plant shop, tucked away off Broadway Market, E8. Twigs opened earlier this year and quickly built up a following of locals who come for a bite to eat and leave with a plant, or two. All plants on display are available for purchase, which creates an organic, ever-changing seasonal backdrop to your daily coffee. The menu is small yet packed with interesting takes on café staples, such as the unique Rice Waffle. Warm, welcoming and homely, Twigs is very much rooted with local interests in mind.

Next up was Town Hall Hotel - a boutique hotel set in the original Bethnal Green Town Hall. Opened in 1910, the original town hall was built in the Edwardian style. Now, as a listed building the hotel merges it’s original Edwardian features, with Art-Deco and modern architecture to create a truly stunning and chic, unexpected getaway in the bustle of east London. Lush interiors lie at the heart of Town Hall Hotel and they are big on collaboration with specially curated art, from local artists, dotted throughout the building. One of the hotels most popular areas is the Corner Room Lamp installation, which has fast become an Instagram staple. There is even a lovely hotel dog called Dizzy.

After a short walk we arrived at a warehouse alongside the Regents Canal. This is home to Dark Room, originally launched as a design store and brand in 2009. Dark Room first opened a retail space on Lambs Conduit Street, W1, however due to increased rent, like many businesses, looked to east London for its new home. Currently they share their warehouse space with interior design specialists Bert & May. The coming together of these two brands has made for some beautiful collaborations, including handmade tiles, soft furnishings and homewares. Their current collaboration is a pop-up shop on a canal boat, moored at the back of the building. This collaboration launched at this year’s London Design Festival. The interior has been kitted out exclusively with pieces from Dark Room and Bert & May and has a quirky nautical design aesthetic. The canal boat is soon to be launched again in a new guise, as a floating hotel.

A few doors away was the fourth stop, 4Cose. This was really interesting find – a retail shop opened by 2 contemporary artists who are part of the Diaspari & Diaspari projects, of Italy. The shop sells authentic imported Italian groceries and functions as any standard retail space, with regular customers coming in and out to make their purchases. Produce is displayed on shelves in the middle and to the back of this unassuming shop, whilst unique art pieces hang from the walls and ceiling. At first glance it feels like an odd combination, however somehow it works as a multifunctional creative and retail space. During our time at 4Cose we were treated to fascinating stories on the history of the area, how 4Cose began and a delicious a spread of some of their finest Italian produce that they sell. Delizioso!

The last stop was the Our/London vodka distillery. Our/London is a vodka that is produced, blended and hand bottled in Hackney, E8. The Our/Vodka is interesting as it takes cues from the craft beer movement that has become synonymous with East London, by positioning itself through look, feel and production as an independent brand. However, the Our/Vodka product is part of the Global wine and spirits powerhouse, Pernod Ricard.

There are 9 Our/Vodka’s currently in the portfolio, including Our/ Berlin, Our/ New York and Our/Miami. The concept is simple; Our/Vodka follows a global recipe but is distilled with local water and unique ingredients for each city, to give it its own distinct taste and character.

The trend immersion tour is a brilliant concept and thoroughly engaging experience. It was great to get out of the studio and really explore what is happening in our city, at a level we very rarely get the chance to. The places visited on the day all had their own unique spin on the theme of Collaboration and Community, which was interesting. Some fitted within a more traditional view of what we understand these words to mean, whilst others were more about building their own communities within their specific industries.

Yes, the tour also brought up discussions on Gentrification and what this means for the area and its true local community. Interestingly the majority of businesses were situated opposite housing estates, which couldn’t help but highlight the development of these areas on a social level. That said, there is much to be said for the ideas and creativity being shown by these business owners, who through various art and design disciplines, are carving out niche pockets of interest and difference.

Overall it really brought home the extent of how much is happening in just a small area of East London. It was an eye-opening look into the kind of innovation that people are undertaking and turning into successful and lucrative business opportunities, in the ever-evolving landscape that is London.