Our Creative Director, Sammi Burden, comments on a new breed of designers, post millennial talent.
We often hear about millennial behaviours, “Millennial” defined typically by those born between 1981 and 1996. A generation who were old enough to comprehend the historical significance of terrorism and who live in the shadow of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, all of which sharpened views and contributed to the intense political polarisation that shapes today’s political environment. This generation in the US were also the force behind the youth vote to become part of the broader conversation and helped to elect the first black president. Beyond politics most millennials entered a work force at the height of recession when growth was slow and jobs were sparse and when technological advancements were rapidly picking up speed. A generation focussed on trends and who are easily influenced on social media with constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment. A lot of design styles as a result were heavily focused on innovation, on digital integration but now we are all asking the question, “who is going to invent the off switch?”
But….as we move and shift to focus on the new generation, we see different characteristics shaping the everyday. Since the oldest of this rising generation is 21, with the majority in their teens research would suggest it’s too early to give them a name. Media coverage and the public will begin to shape this name to become as prominent as those that came before. In the mean time we will refer to them as post millennials.
This next generation of post millennials is more diverse, more self-aware and less focussed on social media. This new style was omnipresent in the products, furniture and design on show at this year’s New Designers show at the Business Design Centre in London. I’ve always questioned interior architecture, as over the years we don’t seem to see the ever present customer experience element shown within designs. Is this because, we in practice, who understand that customers need more than just aesthetics, aren’t teaching emerging talent or because universities around the country aren’t keeping up with rising trends? One for another day.
The strategy behind design decisions for me was felt strongest within the product arena. This post millennial generation were telling us a story; telling us about them; about their culture; about their interests and about their heritage. One student hiked to a remote forest in the Scottish highlands and measured vibrations found in trees. He monitored sound and movement over the course of two days and translated this data into code, he then mimicked his findings using flexible steel and a device that showed his findings to make the steel sway back and fourth as though they were..well…trees. A pointless exercise perhaps but a fascinating use of science, design and contemporary art to provoke discussion.
My next stand out piece won several awards at the event. It was a low level, large backed, rich blue, chair made of timber. Technically, nothing spectacular but aesthetically really eye catching. The designer wanted to tell the story of Afrocentrism. Ilkwa is a throne which inspires empowerment in the face of oppression. Visually intense Ilkwa’s dramatic composition and vivid ultramarine colour overwhelm its surroundings whist asserting the power of its sitter. A wonderful contribution to this year’s event.
This new generation aren’t scared to push boundaries and spread messages. They are bold and individual. They are confident, self-expressive and find the unique in the everyday. I look forward to learning more about post millennials and seeing these new talents, of artist and designer, come into the work force.