Next-Generation Designers Offer Insight into Future of Design

Aug. 16, 2019

The future of the design profession builds upon the foundation of the past while utilizing today’s tools to envision a better tomorrow.

If you’ve been a reader of interiors+sources for more than a decade, you may recall a special cover story we published in 2006 based on a roundtable we held with 10 young professionals who shared their insights about the design industry and where it was headed.

At the time, sustainability, licensing and certification, and educating clients on the value of design services were among the biggest concerns of these emerging designers. A lot has changed since then, and yet, some things remain the same.

As we did then, we at interiors+sources still believe in listening to and supporting the next generation of design practitioners, which is why we are featuring five up-and-coming designers who are making waves in the industry their perspectives are unique and astute, and they offer a glimpse into what the future of design will look like.

Read about our featured designers:

“Great designs are produced by great designers who are willing to envision a new future by constantly asking, ‘What if…?’” observes Tyson Baker, interior designer at PGAV Destinations.

With rapidly changing technologies, Baker says challenging the status quo is more important than ever before. “In our industry progression is rapid—from design software to interior materials. Designers should frequently evaluate new methods and materials to produce the best possible design.”

Arthur Garcia-Clemente, interior designer at Partners by Design, suggests that what the design industry needs now is advocates for the true value of thoughtful space creation. 

“It takes some money, and it requires an understanding of real value, but most importantly it requires respecting the process of design, that it is a non-linear, non-commodifiable process. It requires taking the long view, both of the process and of its long-term ramifications,” he says.

[Related: Cultural Competency a Top Priority for Future of Interior Design]

Both are right. Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible will require endless curiosity and respect for the process of space-making.

Designers Must be Technologically and Culturally Savvy

Success in the future will also hinge on designers who are “technologically skilled and culturally savvy to navigate new-world challenges amid a changing demographic landscape,” according to Dr. Kevin Woolley, a professor and interdisciplinary scholar at Purdue.

As a result, he says educators are turning their attention to cultural competency training as a way to respond to the diverse needs of a global society, and technology is enabling them to do it. Using immersive technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), students now have instant access to global information and can push the limitations of distance and perception to gain new cultural perspectives.

Obviously, AR and VR will also have a significant impact on how projects are designed and experienced in the years ahead. Professional marketer Anastasia Bobeshko explains how these technologies are not only more cost-effective ways to showcase projects and products, but also how they may change how we utilize space altogether.

“As the computing power of VR devices improve, allowing graphics to become ever-more realistic, virtual showrooms may begin to displace traditional brick-and-mortar stores,” she notes.

The next generation of designers will also need to be more diverse if the industry hopes to survive.

“Even with our best efforts, ‘diversity’ can become a futile buzzword when not implemented thoughtfully in the workplace,” Irena Frumkin writes in a column for IIDA. “Workplace diversity isn’t always clear-cut—especially considering its many facets, including race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and more—but it’s a necessity in a rapidly changing world and diversifying client pool.”

Building Tomorrow Based on the Past

Interestingly, in the planning of educational facilities today, we see a blend of new and conventional approaches to achieve the best possible outcomes for tomorrow’s students and teachers.

For example, traditional collaborative design methods that address identity, existing building hierarchy, green spaces, circulation, servicing and wayfinding remain an essential foundation. Meanwhile, developments in technology, teaching pedagogy, social engagement, and health and wellness place a humanistic lens on the process of long-term campus visioning.

Essentially, what all of these stories and others in this issue point to is the notion that the future isn’t divorced from the present or the past. Rather, the next generation of designers will build upon the body of knowledge that has already been laid by those preceding them, while utilizing new tools and ideas to help shape the world into one that is more equitable, sustainable, healthy, beautiful and well designed.

Read this next: IIDA: Increasing and Challenging Diversity at University Level Needed

About the Author

Robert Nieminen | Chief Content Director

Robert Nieminen is the Chief Content Director of Architectural Products, BUILDINGS and i+s, sister publications of Smart Buildings Technology. He is an award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience reporting on the architecture and design industry.

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