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Vending Machines & the Touchless Trend

This fall Team Design Pool did a lot of traveling. First, we headed to Chicago for NeoCon 2021. Then it was over to Cleveland for HCD Expo + Conference. Between both of us (Kristen & Kristin), we traveled through six different airports: Providence, Boston, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland. After a long break from traveling, it was interesting to see how travel has gotten even more touchless. Touchless travel was already becoming the norm, but as we adapt to traveling safely in a pandemic, the adoption of touchless solutions has grown quickly. Beyond what’s necessary to actually fly (ie: touchless check-in and boarding) many restaurants and shops also had touchless payment options at check out. In addition to the touchless trend, we also saw another growing trend: vending machines.

Vending Machines

We have long been envious of Japan’s love affair with vending machines. And if airports are any indication, it looks like that trend is finally catching on here in the US. For travelers who need to pick up something quickly, these machines are super convenient. We spotted plenty focused on our electronics. Forgot your earpods, charger, or random cords? No worries. You can find anything you need, no matter your device. The Fuel Rod portable charger can even be swapped out for a new one when yours runs out of juice.

In addition to travel essentials, there were a lot more options for travel fun. We spotted a Lego vending machine in Cleveland that seems perfect to make kids happy during an unexpected delay. We also spotted a Kylie Cosmetics one if you need to freshen up after a long flight.

Now that we’ve got our eyes peeled for vending machines, we’re seeing them everywhere. In Chicago, there was a bakery ATM full of sweets on the street near Eataly. It got us wondering where else they’re popping up. In Philadelphia, a young crocheter installed a yarn vending machine in her neighborhood. Several art schools also have machines selling art supplies.

We put together a Pinterest board with some of our favorite vending machines. As you have started to come out of hibernation and travel again, have you spotted any unusual vending machines? We’d love to hear about them!

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. She writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving on her Macomber loom, standing over a vat of indigo dye or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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