We live in a day in age focused around Millennials. We want to know how they think, what influences their decisions, and how we can appeal to them. Many current design efforts are built to accommodate Millennial ideals, but are they the generation we should really be focused on?
THE I-GENERATION AND THE EXPLOSION OF TECHNOLOGY
I was at a Digital Marketing conference in Boston not too long ago and one of the presenters told a narrative that paints the perfect picture of how technology is affecting this youngest generation. He had been speaking to a group of teenagers and posed the question, “Would you rather have your phone taken away from you forever or have one of your fingers removed to keep your phone?” One girl raised her hand and asked, “Do we get to pick which finger?”
That sums up this generation. Their smartphones are an appendage, and an important one at that.
The i-Generation, born from 1996 to 2010, is a segment that was immersed into connective technology from the start of their lives. Baby boomers grew up during the expansion of television, Generation X had the introduction of computers, and Millennials were raised with the internet bursting onto the scene. i-Gen had all of these technologies at the touch of a finger from the get-go. Social media and constant connectivity has shaped this generation to possess an “always on” mentality. (2019, Dimock)
They were born in an era of exploding technology – smartphones, tablets, integrated home tech, bots, and Alexa. They went to elementary school with iPads and grew up with the ability to make a HotSpot if they ever found themselves without internet. They are being raised having never known a life without instant and constant Wi-Fi.
This is the way evolution happens. Each generation makes leaps and bounds in one direction, and the next generation either gets to ride the wave or change direction. So far, this “i-Generation”, or Gen Z, has been able to ride the Millennial tech wave.
WHAT DOES GENERATION Z HAVE TO DO WITH ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN?
They can figure anything out online. They can solve problems, find groups, communicate, play games, get jobs, study, take classes, and even have full relationships online. Probably most of the things they do on their devices they don’t even realize actually require internet.
So what does this mean for you when you’re designing spaces?
The next generation doesn’t expect to be able to stay connected everywhere they go. They assume they will be able to.
Restaurants that add in power strips after they were built and hotels that hire electricians to build more outlets are missing the point. New spaces need to be designed with this assumption in mind – that anyone and everyone will be able to charge and stay connected 24/7 no matter where they are.
STAYING CHARGED, CONNECTED, AND POWERFUL THROUGH BEAUTIFUL DESIGN
With the ascension of cables being tucked away under floors and behind walls, released into the open through grommets, power and charging has become an accessory for spaces. Constantly updating colors, designs, styles, materials, configurations, and utility, these accessories not only fit into design – they enhance design.
These charging accessories lend themselves to Generation Z and every generation before. They’re solutions to problems that designers are constantly running into because they solve for today and for tomorrow. And they do so with grace and beauty.
After all, why give up a finger for a phone that you can’t keep charged?