Gen Z interior design: How the luxury industry is changing
Discover how Gen Z revolutionizes luxury interior design with data-driven insights
Luxury is changing forever. Generation Z (or Gen Z for short) is entering the workplace, and so, the land of disposable income and commerce. For retailers, suppliers and interior designers, this means that there is a whole new generation of people to understand and strategically market to. In contrast with other generations, Gen Z is the first one to grow up completely digitally, making their behaviours, likes and dislikes markedly different to their predecessors.
Thankfully, Gen Z’s “chronically online” attitude towards life has allowed marketers and data analysts to truly understand what their preferences are, and how brands can pivot to better serve them.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the relationship between Gen Z and luxury interior design, and how interior design businesses can pre-empt changes in their demographics to stay successful and growing. To discover more professional interior design content, check out our Journal and newsletter.
Gen Z prioritises sustainability, transparency, inclusion, and authenticity.
Who is Gen Z?
However, there are plenty of details left to discuss. Perhaps the most important one is… Who is the average Gen Z-er? How old are they and what are they passionate about? To get the data on our side, we used the fantastic “True Gen’: Generation Z and its implications for companies” by McKinsey&Company, and “Gen Z Is Extremely Online” by Morning Consult.
Gen Z was born between 1995 and 2010, and is in late education or early employment
Gen Z does not have a formal set of dates that dictate exactly who belongs or doesn’t. Many would argue that Gen Z started in 1995, because this generation experienced a childhood intimately involved with the rise of technology. However, others would argue that to be a Gen Z-er you must have recollections of only a post 9/11 world, and that social media or “the web” must be foundational in your development. Whatever it may be, at the time of writing, this generation is young – either in school, university or their first jobs – and decidedly online.
Gen Z is centred around the idea of “truth”
According to McKinsey&Company, Gen Z rallies around 4 different concepts related to “truth”.
- ‘Undefined ID’: Expressing individual truth
“I need to be free; I need to be myself, increasingly be myself, every day. With the internet, I feel much more free”
- Communaholic’: Connecting to different truths
“We each have our own style and way of being, but what binds us is that we accept and understand everyone’s styles”
- ‘Dialoguer’: Understanding different truths
“We must practise tolerance, and we must learn to listen and accept differences.”
- ‘Realistic’: Unveiling the truth behind all things
“I don’t believe this talk of investing in the dream and all that. Work is work.”
Gen Z is very online… perhaps even more than you think
As most of us can recognise, younger cohorts are much more committed to social media and the internet than other generations. However, the numbers may shock you a little.
- Over 50% of Gen Z spend 4 or more hours a day on social media
- Gen Z spends more time socialising on video games than at school or work
- YouTube is used by the large majority of Gen Zers, while Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat are all used by at least two-thirds of Gen Z respondents. Last, we have Facebook and Twitter.
How does Gen Z interact with brands and shopping?
According to Apptus, now Voyado, a product discovery engine for e-commerce growth, Gen Z has a very particular way of interacting with brands and shopping in general. Here are some of the stand-outs:
- The level of political engagement among Gen Z surpasses that of earlier generations. A substantial 77% of Gen Zers have actively participated in actions aligned with their beliefs, advocating for causes close to their hearts. Moreover, an impressive 23% have demonstrated their dissent by choosing to abstain from supporting specific brands through boycotts.
- 60% of American Generation Z-ers use Instagram to discover new brands, products and services.
- 48% of Americans aged 18-34 have bought products or services directly from a social platform.
- Gen Z members trust individuals, such as influencers, more than companies.
- Gen Z prioritises mobile payments like mobile apps and mobile wallets.
- Gen Z consumers are more likely to buy sustainable, high-quality, products. In fact, 73% of Generation Z consumers are willing to pay 10% more for sustainable products.
Vogue Business argues that the pandemic whiplash has eradicated the “minimalism is best” approach for retail. Gen Z-ers want an offline, fun experience when they’re shopping, and expect their time to be personalised and well spent.
How does Gen Z participate in the field of luxury interior design as a consumer?
Fortune has very set ideas on how luxury is being redefined by the younger generation. Here are some of the key messages they’re picking up.
Prestige and exclusivity are not priorities for Gen Z
Since the rise of Gen Z as teenagers and adults, the topics of inclusivity and diversity have been at the centre of many conversations – particularly in the world of luxury, fashion and design. This means that the snobbish “I am too good for you” attitude that many luxury brands employed to be aspirational 10 years ago, is no longer resonating with newer generations, including millennials. Gen Z is all about accessibility, so that has to be a guiding principle when determining a successful marketing strategy.
Sustainability and vintage-shopping is not a choice but a must-have for young people
Until recently, luxury was allowed to be on the outskirts of sustainability. Afterall, their essential “timeless” appeal meant that these pieces were meant to be used for decades and last for generations, which is an inherently sustainable practice. However, the fast fashion cycle has trickled into luxury, and new buyers are eyeing these movements with caution. Although luxury brands may feel pressure to move quickly and produce without thinking, Gen Z is committed to sustainable practices like using recycled or recyclable materials and contributing to fair labour practices, so brands must stay committed to these principles.
Many Gen Z-ers with high purchasing power do not want to buy first hand even if they can afford to. Through second-hand shopping in vintage markets and collector circles, Gen Z makes purchases that feel aligned with their values. This is particularly felt in the interior design circles, where antiques are sourced from individuals and retailers specialised in pre-owned pieces. To thrift home decor is no longer an outlying feature, but an extension of maximalism and self-expression.
Also, drawing from our particular time online and in contact with Gen Z interior designers and design enthusiasts, there are some trends or practices that come up time and time again.
Internet-savvy Gen Z-ers expect transparency when accessing the luxury market
The days of the secret Birkin sales meetings are counted. With influencers breaking the code of silence that surrounded luxury sales for so long, luxury brands must pivot to make their practices more inclusive of a generation that expects honesty and upfrontness.
Maximalism wins: Gen Z is all about individuality, self-expression and personal style
One look at TikTok or Pinterest will let you know that young people finding their interior design style are craving a niche or mini-community that represents them. Some opt from an incredibly individualistic style that joins all of the things and hobbies they love, while many follow specific aesthetics that come with their own rules and favourite elements. For example, there is the coquette community, whom's interior design style is marked by a feminine, infantilised, subversive and 70s-90s Catholic feel. Or those who propelled the "avant basics" look, with its signature curvy elements and pastel pops of colour. Many subcultures come with their own interior design styles, and then those people who enjoy them find each other online.
Gen Z rejects "cheugy" trends by millennials
Think "live, laugh, love" signs, beige and white houses with no personality, farmhouse renovations... The staples of 2015-2017 Instagram are, to Gen Z, a complete sacrilege to interior design and what is considered trendy today. So, if you're trying to market to both, take into consideration that both generations have different tastes and ways of looking at design.
What is the best type of interior design for gen z?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as Gen Z individuals have diverse preferences. However, a popular trend among Gen Z is maximalist and sustainable interior design. They value individuality, simplicity, and eco-friendly materials in their living spaces.
Gen Z interior design inspiration
01. Biophilic design with an industrial edge
02. Textured and Mediterranean
03. Monochrome and charming
04. Thrifty, second-hand and vintage interior design
05. Individual and unique lighting
06. Sage green and beautiful
We hope you enjoyed this article. If you’d like to explore more content related to luxury, we highly recommend our article “Achieve the look: Quiet luxury and interior design”. And if you’re on the hunt for a little luxury interiors inspo, why not check out “The Best London-Based Interior Designers And Studios”.