In a thought-provoking session at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), Pam McNally, the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Digital for the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), shed light on the evolving demands of the younger generation and the growing importance of sustainability in design and lifestyle choices.
One of the key aspects that millennials seek is convenience without compromising sustainability. “They don’t want to have to walk outside the kitchen,” McNally explained. She praised the innovative idea of incorporating sustainable features into kitchen sinks, allowing individuals to dispose of waste without stepping out of the kitchen, thereby minimizing inconvenience.
McNally emphasized the importance of aligning with the values of environmentally-conscious consumers. She stressed that this generation seeks brands that genuinely care about the environment and actively contribute to its preservation. McNally noted, “They want a brand that actually feels the same way they do, that takes the person and the environment seriously.”
The session also explored how design elements once considered unconventional or niche have now gained broader acceptance. McNally cited the growing popularity of crystals in home design, noting how quartz countertops, embedded with naturally occurring quartz crystals, have become a sought-after feature. She emphasized the increasing focus on incorporating positive energy and creating a refuge within one’s home.
While acknowledging that homes with advanced sustainable features might come at a higher initial cost, McNally invited the audience to consider the long-term benefits. “It might be more expensive than the average home, but what would it be worth to you in 30 years?” she asked, challenging the notion of solely focusing on short-term expenses and encouraging a broader perspective on investment and sustainability.
As consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact, the need for availability, accessibility, and affordability of sustainable options remains paramount. The challenge for designers, brands, and industry professionals lies in aligning with these shifting consumer preferences and providing solutions that integrate sustainability seamlessly into everyday life.