The link between sustainability and Universal Design: A PCBC Conversation

Sustainability to today’s homeowner means buying it once not having to throw it away.


Catch all of the PCBC conversation on our YouTube playlist: A PCBC Conversation.

The following is a transcript of the video “The link between sustainability and Universal Design: A PCBC Conversation” :

Nigel: So give me an example of a product that you think needs or a product category, that needs some help.

Susan: I think cabinetry needs to be less customized and more available, readily available.

Nigel: More standardized, off-the-shelf?

Susan: Absolutely, more standardized, so that you’ve got good storage in a vanity, for example, but I could still sit under that on a day that I don’t feel so good. I could still under it, still have storage, and not make it look like I’m in a commercial environment, right, but that it’s just a stock item that I could spec and put into a project rather than going to custom. And not that custom isn’t good, custom is great, but there’s a lot of money in cabinetry that we could do better with.

Nigel: And so, Beth, you’re in trends forecasting. Do you see certain trends in product design, whether for the good or for bad, in your work?

Beth: I do. Millennials are the fastest growing population right now, where they’ve superseded the boomers by about a million, about a half-a-million or a million people, so it is the largest segment of the population today and it will be aging, and it is definitely influencing how we design and develop products today. And they are extremely intelligent, they’re educated, they have their pulse on what’s going on in the design world, and they’re extremely design savvy. They are willing to pay for design, as well. When it’s well-designed and integrated into the product, they’re willing to spend the money for that.

Having said that, I think utilitarian’s no longer enough. And like Susan said, they’ve come a long way since the inception of universal design, and they need to be applauded for everything that’s being done, but I think going forward, to really appeal to this millennial generation and ultimately appeal to all generations, I think the design expectations are going to become much, much higher. I think fashion is going to start to influence even very utilitarian products, and part of what’s happening in fashion is we have the mixed media, and we have the organic elements being brought into the home. So how can we bring more wood products into a very utilitarian, hard-edged product? How do we soften that with some of these organic elements, things that become sculptures?

Susan and I walked the floor this morning and it really is truly amazing how much of the universal design, it’s very functional but it’s very sculptural at the same time. So, in a small room like a bathroom, that becomes your home decor, you know, and you don’t need a lot more clutter in the room, which then also addresses the universal design…

Susan: Your statement piece.

Beth: Right, exactly.