How does the largest trending consumer shop for home furnishings? We’re all scratching our heads trying to understand a generation who has grown up with the internet at their fingertips. The millennial generation has an overriding entrepreneurial spirit. The DIY movement is at the forefront of their design choices. They are makers, they care about the environment and they strive to live life to its fullest. They have a need to personalize spaces they inhabit creating a comfortable, often communal, atmosphere.
E-commerce methods of doing business are necessary to attract this youthful buyer. The ability to customize, the speed to market, the pairing of an object to a sustainable process and cultural philanthropy all speak volumes to the millennial shopper. While this is easy criteria to list on paper, the reality is an epic challenge in an industry that has seen little change. Portraying the quality of a fabric, the durability of a frame or the pitch of a seat is best discovered in person, one-on-one. Digital images and virtual environments are advancing at a rapid pace securing future e-commerce platforms. Providing options is a key component for the millennial shopping experience. Furniture is a blank palette for self-expression and the center point for gathering.
The millennial sofa becomes the perfect vehicle for a simple textural fabric. Linens, brushed cottons and low-pile velvets paint a backdrop for almost any combination of pillows and throws. More often than not, the less matching a set of pillows can be the better. Even the commercial level of youthful furniture pairs simple textures with random colorful pillows. Simple plains marry easily with modern pillows or pillows inspired by ancient global textiles. Suzani and ikat motifs have become universal in their application.
Gone are the days of direct coordinates based on feature patterns and in are the combination of a frame, an ikat, a suzani and an iron gate used together for pillows and chairs. Hand-dyed layering of color mirroring watercolor techniques pays its respects to the maker of the textile. Flea market finds lend themselves to casual living with a nod to up-cycling. Eclectic color combinations often used with a mixed layering of pattern create an emerging trend for this expressive generation. Bright pinks to magentas, soft blush, greens from meadow to palm frond, livable yellows, turquoise, crimson red and violet are pulled together within this trend.
The modern side of the millennial trend takes its clues from architecture and nature. Small-scale geometrics often highlighted with metallic accents brighten up modern frames with textural plains. Graphic drawings and iconic words can also be found in this trend. Steel blue, charcoal gray, raffia golds, patina and henna complement the midcentury style. Retro patterns marry well with apparel-inspired textures. Tweeds, flannels and patterned plains work well on contemporary frames. Casual plains speak to the natural side of the millennial lifestyle trend with heavy cotton and linen-like textures. Woven dimension created through weaves accentuates the handmade qualities of a textile. Macramé, knitting and other hand-manipulated techniques soften an interior, especially those with a rustic aesthetic.
Gen X and Baby Boomers often seek design expertise when styling their interiors. Interior designers and shelter magazine tear sheets offer creative guidance as an integral part of the process. The absence of the internet throughout the majority of their lifetime manifests in the need for a physical shopping experience. Personal style and direction are reflected in their interiors, with family heirlooms providing a historical focal point.
The lifestyle trend transcends generations with the simplification of pattern and color. The concentration on a complex mix of materials offers luxury options for a modern interior. From sophisticated retail stores to elegant licensed collections, the curated options at the high end address luxury in an eclectic way. Recovering family antiques, the craftsmanship found in luxury textiles and the intricate finishes from the manufacturers continue to provide the older generations with limitless options for their homes.
As the Gen X and Baby Boomers continue their passion for luxury interiors, the largest buying power is shifting to a demographic seeking a more simple life. Today’s challenge is creating ways for the millennial shopper to discover individual fashion choices reflecting their need for personal style. Allowing for customization elevates the design experience and provides ownership in the process. Offering virtual interiors will satisfy the visual needs and the experiential user with real-time options.
This paradigm shift literally is happening overnight as the largest consumer group grows in numbers with a new platform of demands.