For the first time in the country’s history, in 2030, the number of persons age 65 and older will exceed the number of persons under the age of 18, as the last of the Baby Boom generation turns 65, according to recent U.S. Population Survey projections. Translation: one in every five Americans will be of traditional retirement age. What does this mean for interior designers and home design? How are kitchen and dining rooms going to change to accommodate the needs of different family members?
Last week, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) released their 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design (OSID) report meant to supply design professionals with essential insights which includes information ranging from a U.S. economic overview, to a deep dive into today’s macro-trends, to future insight from industry thought leaders.
“As our industry and profession continue to experience rapid change in an increasingly globalized world, we must become agile and adaptable to these shifts and apply knowledge in order to thrive,” states Randy Fiser, Hon. FASID, CEO, ASID. “It’s becoming ever-important to reflect on the past and present in order for interior design professionals to adequately prepare for the future. The 2019 ASID Outlook and State of Interior Design report provides resources for designers to inform their next steps, and offers verified insight as to which direction to steer their businesses and careers.”
There are key takeaways from the report but what struck me most what how the aging population will reshape the built environment.
New Housing Needs To Accommodate An Older Population
In addition to those 65 plus exceeding the younger set in population, I learned that the homesharing economy is affecting this demographic in a significant way. According to a 2016 Airbnb study, endorsed by AARP, older adults — especially women age 60 and older — make up the largest demographic of its hosts (around 45 percent), according to the report. Whether it’s a form of supplemental income or to offset other expenses, hosts aged 65 and over earned an average of $8,350 in supplemental income annually for a single property and as of April of 2016, U.S. Airbnb hosts over age 60 (more than 320,000 of them) had earned a collective $700 million from sharing their homes since 2011.
Not every senior will want to share their home or room with strangers but as the population grows older. Still, while they may not be sharing their homes with strangers, approximately 12 percent of U.S. parents with one or more children currently living at home are also providing unpaid care for an adult who may or may not be living in the same home, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
Interior designers and architects will be finding themselves with more projects that focus on how to help seniors either age in place or remodel spaces in homes to accommodate an elder family member who is moving in, either temporarily or permanently.
Among the trends highlighted in the ASID Outlook report is the “traditional family household model is being replaced by more fluid, variable configurations based on lifestyle and social identity.”
Such morphing of lifestyles is transforming spaces. Today’s consumers are breaking down the boundaries of traditional household and lifestyle paradigms, partly due to changing social norms and partly due to economic necessity. Single-occupant housing, shared housing, same-sex households, and single-parent households are all becoming more standard and accepted. Consumers are more open to experimenting with new ways of living, commuting, and consuming. This is having an impact on how they use the spaces in which they live, work, and play, according to another 2019 trendbook released by Schattdecor, an international surface specialist with offices in 27 countries.
Wellness Technology Is Penetrating The Senior Market
Not every mature adult is moving in with their kids or inviting strangers to live in their homes. Many are fine living alone and welcome the solace. Still, savvy technology companies know it’s smart business to develop technologies and devices specifically for the senior market. Those companies are creating tech that ranges from health and wellness (e.g., sensors, monitors, telemedicine) to virtual reality experiences designed to combat the negative effects of limited mobility and isolation. Similar to other areas of life, ‘smart’ versions of common items used to support senior wellness (e.g., beds, canes, clothes, flooring, lights, scales, silverware, toilets, window panes, etc.) will become ubiquitous, according to an article published in Senior Housing News last summer.