Gensler Design Forecast: Trends in a New Era of Human Experience

Design becomes the engine for sustainability, inclusion and community - Everything about the metatrends of the Gensler Design Forecast

Author: House of Eden

As a creative partner, Gensler helps organizations use design to unlock value, potential opportunity and address urgent challenges. The design and architecture office summarizes which trend-setting trends make this possible in a design forecast every year. This year's focus: cities. And the role of design in creating livable and resilient places for people to live and work.

More specifically, this year's Design Forecast focuses on design strategies that aim to usher in a new era of human experience. To do this, he identifies more than 200 global trends that are based on cross-industry innovations and strategies of resilient companies and focus on people. The most relevant metatrends give hope: sustainability, belonging and human-centric design could become the strategic imperative of our living space.

Little reminder: The Zukunftsinstitut defines metatrends as part of a dynamic, evolutionary future model. From this perspective, they are a (systemic) solution to a contradiction between megatrend and countertrend.

Inclusion and sustainability optimize the urban lifestyle

Cities must present themselves as livable places through design to offset the impact of COVID on city life. After all, the pandemic has caused many people to question their urban life. Urban spaces therefore urgently need to use design as a means to create better experiences. On the one hand, it's about green neighborhoods, job opportunities, affordability and accessible transportation. On the other hand, structures that promote health and well-being become a priority. It also means that cities need to focus on addressing socioeconomic and other discriminatory inequalities in order to position themselves as competitive in the international competition for talent. keyword Diversity & Inclusion.

In addition to the social dimension, cities must also focus on the ecological one. In order to mitigate the effects of climate change and associated weather events, sustainable building practices should dominate the development of urban space. In short, this means: The urban lifestyle should be optimized by creating accessible and inclusive structures; urban resilience Sustainable Building. In summary, five metatrends that are growing in importance were defined on the basis of these forecasts.

The Future of Cities - Gensler Design Forecast Metatrends

  1. Flexible open spaces foster resilience. Cities can use the positive aspects of the pandemic - open roads, al fresco restaurants and fewer cars - to put people first and deal with future crises
  2. 20 Minute Neighborhoods Promote Justice. Investments in 20-minute neighborhoods (also 15 minute city), which offer their residents local employment, shopping and transport options, are intended to promote equality and self-determination
  3. Demands for climate protection accelerate the way to Net Zero. Due to the increasing political and social pressure to reduce their CO2 footprint, airports, universities and data centers are pursuing ambitious goals in relation to climate neutrality and sustainability
  4. Cities and organizations focus on regeneration and reuse. In response to climate change, cities and organizations are striving to create sustainable and regenerative environments that use existing spaces and materials more efficiently, thereby reducing waste and carbon emissions
  5. Innovation Districts continue to thrive. Educational institutions interact with their surrounding communities to drive innovation and create creative synergies - they become diverse ecosystems from which Innovation Neighborhoods emerge

Learning and well-being dominate the workplace of the future

The way people work and where they work has changed fundamentally due to the pandemic. And globally. Accordingly, the workplace is changing at an unprecedented rate. Employers wonder how they positive experiences for employees can create in order to survive in the international war for talent. An ecosystem of workplaces that exists both inside and outside the office comes into focus.

With this comes an opportunity to rethink the physical workplace to offer a unique and fulfilling experience that can attract talent. Be it through new technologies or new types of spaces. However, the physical workplace has a relevant place in the hybrid system: employees depend on it for social interaction, mentorship, intensive concentration and collaboration. This results in the following metatrends in working life.

The Future of Work - Metatrends

    1. Jobs as attractive targets. There is a shift in the role of the workplace to "destination" - High-performing companies must create physical experiences to nurture innovation and creativity within their workforce
    2. Experimentation, prototyping and learning are the new normal. Work areas must be goal-oriented and research-oriented in order to find or exclude solutions and to analyze results - learning and unlearning through testing and measuring comes into focus
    3. The new workspace ecosystem includes third rooms. Third places and coworking spaces are increasingly preferred for a variety of work activities - developers and landlords should create spaces such as work lobbies or outdoor workspaces
    4. Jobs as a motor of equality and integration. Organizations create equal work experiences for all employees along diversity dimensions and geographic boundaries to create a culture of inclusion and belonging
    5. Investing in health and wellbeing. Employers can improve the well-being of their employees through biophilia and wellness design, as well as building personal and professional relationships

Authentic community experiences promise success for lifestyle brands

With the profound societal changes brought on by COVID, ongoing climate change and social justice movements, lifestyle brands need to understand their customers’ needs better than ever. Your success thus depends largely on understanding the socio-cultural context and anticipating The Next Big Thing. In order to do this, it is recommended that Concentration on contemporary buzz topics: Community, belonging and cultural relevance. These forecasts were also specifically translated into five forward-looking metatrends.

The Future of Lifestyle - Gensler Design Forecast Metatrends

    1. Belonging and place design bring people together. Brands need to employ holistic design strategies, incorporating culture and place into their planning to create a strong sense of belonging for all people
    2. Spatial community building. Space types that promote collaboration, community, health and well-being - from meeting places and dining options to integrative wellness areas such as prayer and meditation rooms - promise entrepreneurial success
    3. Flexibility becomes a crucial investment. Flexible rooms that enable different uses and events increase the adaptability to market needs and the sustainability of construction projects
    4. Merging digital and physical. Customers need technological infrastructure and strategic planning to deliver faster, fairer and more connected experiences to their end-users - Integrating technology on-premises can enable personalized and self-service experiences
    5. Meeting zones enliven neighborhoods. Places that bring people together and feel safe can revitalize neighborhoods - developers have the opportunity to transform one-sided spaces like libraries into multi-purpose destinations

Sustainable design strategies support human health

There is currently an unprecedented awareness that the built environment on human health affects. However, also for the fact that the environment can be a tool to make people healthier. And that's exactly what healthcare providers, academic organizations, and mission-driven companies have recognized. Wellness practices and resilient design solutions are therefore becoming increasingly important. It's about protecting companies against external shocks and making their processes future-proof through new technologies. The background to this development: Demographic change, which will soon pose unprecedented challenges for all sectors in order to enable a healthy and cross-generational future.

The Future of Health - Metatrends

  1. Design promotes resilience and health in equal measure. As climate change also puts strains on healthcare systems, facilities need to integrate resilient and sustainable strategies to optimize their crisis response capabilities
  2. The aging of the population is becoming a game changer. For the first time, more of the population will be over 65 than under 18 - design must create spaces that also enable older adults to lead active and meaningful lifestyles
  3. Science organizations specify how to deal with climate change and health. As science has taken center stage during the pandemic, organizations are aligning themselves with science in their quest to drive positive change
  4. Building stocks enter the cycle. The reuse of buildings in healthcare and science is of great importance to create new returns on investments
  5. Design "on the edges" promotes solidarity. Inclusive design should involve formerly disadvantaged population groups and create structures that express social missions in the form of design

What's next?

The Gensler Design Forecasts indicate that design is becoming an important tool to reflect the most influential issues of our time. Climate change, integration and community. Sustainable development and social change can be significantly promoted through intelligent and future-oriented urban design. And the other relevant areas of life - workplace, lifestyle and health - also have enormous potential for sustainability and solidarity New Normal to advance.

Source: Gensler Design Forecast 2022 

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