Designing with Generations in Mind

November 16, 2016

Pacific Digital, Interior Design by ID Studios, photos by ID Studios

Shaynee McMillion joined ID Studios earlier this year as Senior Designer and Director of Client Relations. She shares her 20 years’ of experience with us through this post in our Designer Forum series.

Designing with Generations in Mind

Parallels of the Younger and Older Generations Impacting Interior Design

Industry experts project Millennials will become the strongest brand and consumer influencers since the Baby Boomer generation. As a Gen X designer, the approach to designed environments has changed as we take notice of the trends that present themselves from this younger generation. Together with designing for the Baby Boomers we discover interesting opportunities as these two generations converge in the Live-Work-Play arena.

The focus on trends that influence commercial design, specifically relating to workplace, and hospitality environments, should include the varied perspectives of how each generation experiences the spaces we create. The way Millennials interact with our spatial layouts, interior finishes and overall feel of a space is a source of ‘changing’ trends that directly impact the design needs of our clients. Just as important to track is the changing requirements of the baby boomer generation and how those changes impact interior design projects.

It is reported 10,000 Baby Boomers hit retirement age every day in our country. As their influence remains in the workplace while they continue to transition over the next decade or so, they are entering into a new phase in life and they are certainly influencing the way we design in other venues.

In a coffee shop by Jeff Sheldon

Creative Workplace

Home Away From Home

Millennials, since entering the work force, have been a driving force leading to a more creative workplace. The shift to open environments, more collaborative and casual work spaces are a result of this generation wanting to work differently. They have even more respect than previous generations for sustainable design, honest materials, clean air & natural light as part of their work life.

Retaining the Millennial employee is a key driver for our clients. Environments need to invoke feelings of being relaxed, comfortable & connected. Our designs should be current, fresh and support the interior environment with a perfect proportion of focus areas as well as flexible, casual and collaborative spaces. Incorporating amenities that break up the work day and support convenience while at work are all contributing factors that have changed our work life and helped employers retain the new generation of the work force.

As the Baby Boomer generation and Gen-Xers alike embrace the new trends, they can find themselves as the leaders in their businesses steering the design process for their teams. A new appreciation can develop as the changes in their workplace reflect a refreshing improvement to their former surroundings.

Tealium Collaboration Area, design by ID Studios, Photo by Joel Zwink

Sense of Community

Personal Space vs. Amenity Space

With flexible working arrangements and boundaries between live-work & play fading, Millennials are finding, with technology, they can do everything they want at home or anywhere else at the development where they may rent or own their place, just as long as technology is incorporated in the design. Millennials will compromise personal space for more amenities.

The millennial generation tops the Multi-family housing clientele, with Baby Boomers entering in at a growing number. Developers are honed into this and understand the importance of providing convenience to all of life’s necessities and comforts for a diverse range of generations sharing the property. Community spaces are viewed as an extension of the residents’ personal space. In general, the trend for amenity spaces incorporate a strong influence of hospitality type experiences into the design. Together with the connectivity Millennials crave, residents are ‘wowed’ with state-of-the-art gyms, hotel lobby type spaces with relaxed and social zones integrated.

As designers, we can look at these types of shared spaces and are able to create the appeal that will attract a variety of ages. The design should be inviting and refined, not fussy or over stylized and most of all comfortable.

CSU San Marcos Student Center dining and lounge furniture design by ID Studios

Play & Leisure

Expectations are High

Work hours are long, productivity is fundamental but keeping a balance between play and work are critical to a Millennial. Of course other generations value this too…but to the millennial generation, they have entered the work place with more of this culture present. A work-life balance is reflected in today’s workplace design more than ever.

For most Baby Boomers, the Live-Work-Play attitude is changing to Live-Recharge-Play. They make up a large population of individuals who are traveling, frequenting restaurants and are a huge influence on the way our recreation and leisure spaces are designed.

There is so much variety and competition to entice where we spend our play and leisure time and our expectations are high. Not only is the aesthetic critical to attracting and making a great first impression, the focus on the millennial generation in design also has to do with social media habits. They are ‘checking in’ with everyone as they experience their restaurant, hotel or living space. In hospitality environments, if they ‘don’t like it’, or they ‘love it’, their social circle and potential new visitors to these businesses will be influenced through social media. As our hospitality clients well know, everyone with a smart phone is now a critic.

Millennials are used to having many options and they expect more from interior design. Being competitive while appealing to the range of generations requires the utmost care in the detail of how a space looks and feels while not making it so trendy that a more seasoned patron will feel out of their element. Remaining unique in the design, adding character with more refined elements combined with a sensitivity to the environment can appeal to the masses.

Pacific by ID Studios