Bobby Berk has worn various hats for his role as founder of Bobby Berk Home. A furniture manufacturer, retailer and designer, Berk recently added the role of design director to his repertoire, creating Millennial-friendly flexible spaces for a two-home concept project developed by BUILDER with TRI Pointe Group’s Pardee Homes and Bassenian Lagoni Architects.
In an exclusive interview with Design Today, Berk talked about the features that Millennials want in a home:
DESIGN TODAY: What are the top five “must have” Millennial features in a new home?
BOBBY BERK: They want customizable features that allow their homes to grow with them, a focus on outdoor living space, homes located in “suburban” areas that also offer urban conveniences and allow them to be able to access everything they need within walking distance. They also want Income Suites! This one is major and a big part of what I’m currently doing at our latest project in Las Vegas, and of course, technology, technology, technology!
DT: Some research shows that Millennials like eco-friendly, “green,” etc. furnishings, but they also don’t want to pay extra for them. What can designers and retailers do to convince buyers the extra charge is worth it?
BERK: I’ve recently partnered with Ketchum to do some major market research on Millennials. I was honestly shocked to find out that only 31% of millennials find eco-friendly to be high on the list of important things if it affects price. I think our industry really needs to decide that being eco-friendly is a moral/ ethical obligation to our planet and find ways to make their manufacturing and products as eco-friendly as possible without increasing costs. At the end of the day, we all have to live on this planet, and our industry should aspire to set the example for other industries.
DT: Room by Room (LR, DR, Kitchen, BR, Ba, etc.)—what are the most exciting furnishings you saw at market or have seen recently?
BERK: I saw some really great new eco-friendly upholstery from Gus Modern at this last High Point Market. Their new line is filled with Trillium (recycled plastic bottles) and on top of being eco-friendly, it is super comfortable as well. Gus’ take on eco goes back to my comments above. They are constantly making their manufacturing and their products more and more green, but instead of using it as a way to charge more as some companies do, they haven’t increased their prices on these new and exciting products at all. They are putting a focus on a green planet, instead of a “green pocket.” In turn though, millennial consumers have a very positive reaction to the green aspects of their furniture thus promoting very healthy sales.
DT: Describe your new role and the projects you are doing now — can you overview the homes you’re doing?
BERK: My new role as creative director at Pardee Homes is very exciting. Basically, I’m in charge of everything to do with the design of the homes from working with the architect to ensure the home’s design/function appeals to the millennial buyer to picking all the finishes for both the interior and exterior of the homes, and, of course, doing all of the interior design for all of our model homes.
DT: What are the top three mistakes home furnishings retailers make when trying to sell to Millennials?
BERK: Using traditional advertising methods, not giving them the power to customize, and not having a story behind their products/ brand.
DT: How do you think style preferences will change over the next 10 years or so when Millennials are building families, etc.?
BERK: It’s really hard to say how style preferences will change over the next 10 years. These days so many unpredictable things affect them. For example, one could have never predicted the huge explosion of mid-century design, but I think it’s safe to say that Mad Men played a major role in this trend’s popularity. I think Hollywood plays a huge role in home trends, and the next big trend might possibly be due to the next big show.
Originally hailing from Texas, Bobby had big dreams of the big city and moved to New York in 2003 with only a few dollars to his name and no job in sight. After working his way up in retail at Bed Bath & Beyond and Restoration Hardware to Creative Director at Portico Home + Spa, Berk decided that it was time he started his own brand.