Thursday, May 24, 2007
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Design is a Critical Component in Reaching Young Adults*
In building sustainable communities, it is important to reach the younger generation. According to a recent study released by Autodesk1—a private firm that makes design software—design is one way to attract the crucial age bracket of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29.
The "Millenials," as these young adults are sometimes called, are far more influenced by design than other American age groups and past generations. This includes decisions of what car they buy, what new electronics they want and even where they will live and work. Of particular interest to economic and cultural development planners is the importance this age group assigns to the design of their environment. Of those surveyed, 66% of 18-29 year olds said it would be important to consider public spaces when deciding on where to live. Additionally, 42% of young Americans said they would consider the beauty and architecture of a city's buildings before moving there. This research suggests that design may be an asset to policy makers searching for ways to avert "brain drain" and attract a younger workforce. Attractive architecture and welcoming public spaces can help communities market themselves to a younger crowd while invigorating a neighborhood in both artistic and economic terms.
Most Millenials (84%) agreed that they would like to play a hand in the design of public spaces in their city. State and local arts agencies, city officials and property developers may be able to capitalize on this interest by inviting young people into planning dialogues, offering them a chance to shape their community. Nine in ten Millenials surveyed also agreed that new building constructions should be environmentally-friendly, indicating that advances in the public sector in regards to "green" design may help communities attract and retain populations of young adults.
This research emphasizes the multiple benefits of bringing a greater design consciousness to public buildings, products and programs. In the competition for resources that often occurs in the public sector, the power of design should not be overlooked, especially as a way to meet the needs of young Americans.
* Thanks to NASAA's spring arts research and policy intern, Richard Leahy, for preparing this DYK.
1 In commemoration of its 25th anniversary
Sources: "Survey Reveals Great Design is a Priority for 'Millenial' Generation." Edelman - Autodesk "Design for Living Survey" BreakOut Report, April 2007.