Design and Millennials: They Want More

MillennialEveryone knows that people born between 1980 and 2000 – aka millennials—will soon rule the world, so designing things for them makes economic sense. After all, a survey by Autodesk a few years ago revealed that millennials are serious about their design.

According to the survey, 90 percent of them care about sustainable design and 82 percent say that the idea of working in a beautifully designed building would influence their decision to accept a job. And about 70 percent of respondents said the last time they saw a product they “must have,” it was because of design.

But what do millennials want?

One common denominator is that many are visually oriented. They grew up with the internet and appreciate the graphics, speed, and accessibility found there. They are digital “natives,” which means they are completely comfortable in that world. For product designers, that may mean more practical graphics, bright colors, and motion.

Millennials also expect customization. They can get their smart phone cover with their picture on it, their braces 3D-molded to their teeth (and invisible), and their music mixed to their taste. So in some sense, the millennial consumer is his own designer.

Signage designers have taken both of these trends into account. Giant LED screens, which are replacing billboards in many locations, can offer brighter colors, motion, and easy customization. A college foodservice operator has replaced menus with big-screen TVs that continuously scroll through the menu, a format the young customers are accustomed to (another advantage of that digital menu is that the operator can easily change the line-up when something runs out).

Marriott believes its millennial customers are seeking hip, technologically advanced spaces. In December Marriott opened a new AC Hotel in New Orleans specifically designed for that age group. It features cutting edge design, lobbies made for socializing, and work and play spaces with the latest technology. Marriott also partnered with IKEA to launch a budget hotel line in Europe, Moxy, that features IKEA’s distinctive look.

When it comes to home and community design, research shows millennials value proximity more than space – they want to be close to transportation, restaurants, etc. And inside their homes, they want multi-use spaces instead of dining rooms, lots of outlets for their tech devices, and high energy efficiency.

Designing for millennials may sound daunting, but the truth is each generation has had its preferences. Millennials are no different – they want design that matches their fast-paced, graphics-oriented, connected world.

Historic Register Grows in Austin

HistoricRegisterGermanSchoolThe historic value of Austin has not been overlooked by the National Park Service. Six locations in Austin were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, ranging from an architecturally significant home on Park Boulevard to the German American Ladies College on 11th Street.


Cranfill Apartments

The Cranfill Apartments on Cliff Street earned a spot on the register because they “display distinctive characteristics of midtwentieth-century modern design on a residential scale,” according to the register. The buildings were designed in 1958 by Harwell Hamilton Harris, who was dean of the School of Architecture of the University of Texas at Austin.

German-American Ladies College

This house, built in 1876 at 1604 E. 11th Street, is significant as an example of a “vernacular, wood frame, Greek Revival residence in Austin as well as for its ties to local education,” the register reports. The building housed the German American Ladies College, a private all-girls day school, until 1881, when Austin’s public school system began.

Seaholm Power Plant

The Seaholm Power Plant was designed by the Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell and built in 1951. The Seaholm Plant is an “outstanding example of the Art Moderne architectural style,” the register says. The structure is constructed of site-cast concrete, and the firm paid close attention to massing, scaling, and detailing in its design.

Lung House

The Lung family, a prominent Chinese immigrant family, lived in this house on Canterbury Street from 1917 to 1960. The Lungs were among the first Chinese families to settle in Austin, where they ran a successful restaurant business for more than 60 years. “The house clearly illustrates the level of success and respect this minority family achieved during a time period in which the community was not always welcoming to outsiders,” the register says.

James M. and Leana B. Walsh House

This home, built in 1926, belonged to the Walsh family and sits on land previously occupied by their limestone business, which supplied the stone for the house. The house is an example of the Mission Revival Style as applied to a single-family residence. “Key character defining features include a curved, sculpted parapet which incorporates a blind quatrefoil window-like ornament; red tile roofs; a dominant porch with a corbel arch entry; wall ornament reminiscent of a blind arcade; multi-light windows; and thick masonry walls,” the register reports.

Edgar H. Perry, Jr. House

This home was built in 1929 by builders Davidson & English of San Antonio. “With fine detailing attributed to local craftsmen Peter Mansbendel and Fortunat Weigl, the Edgar H. Perry, Jr. House represents one of the most outstanding examples of the Tudor Revival style in Austin,” the register reads.