A news item that recently caught the eye of our Creative Director and CSO was the planned introduction of Amazon Lockers to select stations on the London Underground. For the uninitiated, Amazon Lockers are essentially giant, opaque fridge-like structures which are beginning to spread throughout a handful of the world’s more globalised cities. Rather than keeping cans of Coca-Cola® cool, however, Amazon Lockers function as collection points for physical goods ordered online: through offering an alternative to mail delivery services that are restricted to office hours (and which are therefore often unsuitable for large numbers of urban dwellers, who are themselves at work during typical delivery times), these lockers represent a significant advance in convenience, particularly those located at popular transportation nodes.
Theoretically, this is unambiguously good news, Progress with a capital ‘P’. So why then do we at Mediolana feel so ambivalent about them?
1. No one at home. Lockers such as those offered by Amazon are a recognition that there will be no one at home to collect a parcel for you. Seemingly aimed at a new generation of long-hours-defined single-person households, they at once represent both democratisation of choice and the tyranny of solitude.
2. Legal pluralism? Given the relentless advance of the security industry during the twenty-first century to date, it appears incredible that city-wide transportation authorities are able to accommodate corporate receptacles unquestioningly while being unable to provide public litter bins within the same station complexes.
3. Aristocrats by night…As part of the trend towards bifurcation of lived experience, delivery lockers intensify the sensation that we are content to live like serfs during the day while enjoying the illusion of aristocracy at night. We can now all order that smartphone (for same-day deposition in a Tube station near you!) and let logistical advances tease our egos – just don’t think about what you do for the majority of your waking life…