Why Are We #Adulting?
Simple observations and a bit of curiosity–that is how I have been working as a designer for the past 12 years. OK, it might be more than just a bit of curiosity as I seem to have a never-ending list of questions in my head as to why things are done or how they are put together. In my design history, I have worked in the multi-story family, workplace, hospitality, retail branding and [dabbled in] the healthcare market sectors. All of them are vastly different types of design and yet more alike than some might think.
It is from these commonalities/differences, finding things that are repetitive in conversations with friends or clients, images that pop up on Instagram or Pinterest, or just the thoughts and questions that keep me awake at night, that my blog ideas spring from.
This brings me to my first blog for Mohawk Group: Why Are We #Adulting?
A client recently asked my thoughts on super graphics–in terms of whether or not I thought they felt cartoonish in a healthcare setting–and my instant reply was, “not as long as they are done right.” I then explained that in my opinion super graphics provide a shock to the system, unexpected moments of reflection, and more often than not a bit of whimsy and humor to our lives. This was quickly followed up with some validation in the form of listing two design principles, scale and contrast. There was a pause and my client agreed with me, but in that pause his question lingered in my head because it made me wonder…“Why wouldn’t something a little cartoonish be OK?”
Let’s face it, being an adult is probably not all we imagined it to be as a kid. In fact, according to a Gallup Poll regarding people with good or great jobs, only 26% of the world’s adult population has what would be defined as a “good” job, and only 4% has a “great” job. Granted they are talking about the numbers of hours they work, but it still speaks to a perception people have about their jobs. The report also states that more often than not, adults with good jobs are not engaged with their work, which is why I think we are seeing a shift in the design world to bring more of our childhood into our adult lives.
For example, in the fashion industry we are seeing the use of animated characters as a print, which has been done before but now it is making the leap to high-end fashion. Graphics are using comic-like, tongue-in-cheek humor to create brand statements, and art installations invite us to play. It is not that we want to be kids again, but that we want to return to the simplicity of our forgotten or misplaced youth as a way of reconnecting with something outside our normal day.
Examples of Graphics
Examples of Fashion
Example of Art Install
So how does this translate into interior design specifically? Well, we all hear about millennials these days and how they are going to change the workplace, but are they the only ones who want change when more and more people are disengaged with the work they do? What would make the places we work better than by having something nostalgic that makes us feel more connected?
One example of this is that we now have felt, something we played with as children, decorating our walls and creating a texture for us to touch and interact with again. Another example came about after I made a flippant comment to a coworker that we needed bunk beds in our office to be a bit more efficient with our time. Then at NeoCon 2016, Buzzispace showed us BuzziJungle, a literal jungle gym where adults can climb and create a new way of working.
So, rounding back to my question, do we need to be so serious in how we live and work today?
I think the answer is that the formal work-life is changing to reflect our perception of what we want our work-life to be, not what we think it should be. There is even a hashtag for this. #Adulting has been floating out there for some time now, and when we use it we are literally making light of the fact that what we are doing is something we thought we would be doing as a kid—but it isn’t quite what we pictured. I think that as a designer, I am seeing more and more reasons as to why we should allow ourselves to have more amusing moments in our day—especially in the workplace—to make us more productive.
Besides being a better worker, and adding to the design, we all deserve to have a little more fun in our lives, don’t we?
Guest blogger Mark Bryan of M+A Architects is a self-proclaimed design generalist, and has worked in the multi-story housing, workplace design, hospitality, retail branding, spiritual and public sectors. A graduate of Virginia Tech, his approach to design is largely influenced by the cultural changes and shifts that occur in the world, whether they are major trends or subtle cues. His creativity also stems from collaboration with his clients and finding out which challenges they face that can be solved by design, the architectural world, the blending of the interiors with the exterior, and digging into the details where true design lives. “Using design for the betterment of others is done through investigation, imagination, caring and devotion.”