It’s time to pick their brains

Last month, Commercial Interior Design invited seven young designers working in the Middle East to discuss the interior design trends that are being driven by the millennial generation.

CID cover November issue 2017.

Let’s face it, whether it’s an office, a coffee shop in your neighbourhood, or a favourite bookstore, millennials are charting their own course within the interior design industry, developing unique design language and shaping the spaces we inhabit.

So, how can young designers craft spaces that go beyond the literal and shallow understanding of their generation’s needs? I’m curious to see how our sector’s buzz phrases – such as ‘experience is the new luxury’, ‘blurring the lines’, ‘flexibility’, ‘collaboration’, and ‘no boundaries’ – are translated into physical spaces. At the same time, I’m certain that senior designers will have to dig much deeper than simply labelling projects with Millennial slang words, or painting hashtags on the wall for the sake of it.

Not too long ago, I was chatting with Lacasa’s design director, Patrick Bean, about the untapped potential of young designers. Bean, who has more than two decades of experience in hospitality design, views such professionals as a major asset to any design company, providing they are “stirred in the right direction”.

“We still need to guide them with the knowledge and experience that we have but, often, they come up with better ideas than us,” he explained. “To be honest, I’d be very stupid not to tap into that resource of fresh and creative ideas that are sitting there.”

Julijana Mitic, associate and projects director at Perkins+Will, shares Bean’s perspective. Rather than focussing on the ways in which different age groups clash, she prefers to celebrate opportunities for inter-generational collaboration and development.

“We don’t want to shape [millennials] to think exactly like us,” noted Mitic. “It’s all about using new perspectives as inspiration.”

A lot has been said about the importance of meaningful and honest mentorship programmes, but such schemes should not concentrate exclusively on the cultivation of skills and talents. They should also be designed to develop fresh ideas and novel ways of thinking.

This philosophy should not be limited to the interior design community; it can be applied to all sectors of industry. The ability to adapt to change today translates into a competitive advantage for tomorrow, so maybe it’s about time we all started to pick the brains of the younger generation.

 

 

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