Hello Design Lovers, today I would like to talk about something that I experienced during my time in this industry so far. As some of you will know, I have now worked in Interior Design for around 6 years and 3 of these I have spent designing 8,000 beds worth of Student Accommodations interiors. During this time, I have been surrounded by numerous professionals all working in this industry and met many amazing people. Some inspired me, some surprised me, all of them taught me something.
Gathering some thoughts about my experience, I decided to synthesise the 5 main characteristics that I found in the best professionals I have encountered so far in the Student Accommodation Design Business. I think it is a good reminder of some of the skills that make a great professional and why not, this might even help some of you who are struggling to improve in this job.
They think about the future
What I mean with this, is that these great people I worked with, do not just think about getting the job done and organise their stuff in advance. They think about the actual future. And from more than just one perspective.
From a social responsibility point of view, they help to shape the future generation of leaders by teaching, nurturing, and even inspiring everyone they collaborate with. Oftentimes, it is something that happens almost unknowingly, and just thanks to the passion and a good attitude.
From a more technical point of view instead, they are always pushed ahead by curiosity, so they are constantly on the look for the next big thing, innovation, or simply great idea. This is a search that can eventually lead to discovering or even set new important trends. Never feeling completely content is probably also a part of it, and what ultimately gets such people to achieve amazing results. And this actually brings to the next point…
They have a young spirit
They work for the younger generations and likely feel (or at least want to feel) a bit younger themselves. And if you think about it, in this highly professional environment that aims at catching the attention of university students or at most recent graduates, you have got to have that. Otherwise, it might become quite impossible to get the right results or even hire the right people for the job.
The willingness to try new experiences and feeling genuinely curious about new things, trends, and peers is something that I have always found in the most respected people in this industry, very often in high-seniority positions.
Technology is a big component of this market because younger Millennials and GenZs are the first born in the digital era. So, a dedicated interest in new tech is a constant, as it is delegating some decisions to younger professionals and surveys. A good example of this happened to me when we were choosing a colour for an Interior. We specified it and initially, some executives were not convinced. They then delegated the final decision to the younger team managing the accommodation, as they were the ones in direct contact with the target audience. As soon as the managers came back with the survey showing the actual preference for that specific colour the approved it as well without a second thought.
They are open-minded
It is not just about curiosity though. The best professionals that I have met so far, have the habit of constantly going and thinking outside their comfort zone almost ingrained in their personality. This comes down to quite literally getting into the mindset of their target audience and understand what drives it.
This means also listening to a lot to the people around them and assimilate as much information as possible to switch in the right mindset, which is something extremely difficult to do.
For instance, a new trend was recently identified according to which younger students tend to work not with one but two screens simultaneously. To make it work, even if some design standard layouts were already accepted, after some discussion this translated into a layout change for the bedrooms. We had to adapt getting rid of all the shelves above the desk and leaving more free space on them.
They care about their job
Consider the high demand for student accommodations. Even now with the pandemic, there are positive market projections about this segment’s growth.
It might be obvious then to think that a developer will be tempted to deliver the bare minimum to make the cut in this particular period. Having worked in this market for a while now, and having seen the increasing competition on delivering well-designed, innovative, and beautiful projects, suggests the contrary.
The growing involvement of specialised interior design studio with a hospitality background is further proof of that. Those who get the best results are the people who actually care about the students’ communities and their wellbeing. This is something that starts with the Interior Design, and continues with great management, as discussed in my previous article about the Future of Blended Living.
They understand the importance of Travelling
They love travelling and they care about giving the students that go abroad a genuine experience. That is why we always worked closely with the developers’ marketing team when coming up with the concept, as discussed in the article How to align interior design with branding: Our work with Nido Student. Pooling together these experiences gave us the opportunity to define a space that could really communicate the uniqueness of each location.
The nature of many of these professionals’ work brings them to constantly travel and visit each place where they build student accommodations. Realising the fundamental differences in each location to make the students’ experience more meaningful is such an important trait. So, it was a crucial part of our design process as it had great relevance for the developers’ team too.
So, what do you think about the characteristics I have described? Would you have added more? Did you also meet people that match this profile? As for me, I feel lucky to be constantly in contact with so many experienced people. I strive to improve myself while being inspired by the people that surround me every day. So, who knows, maybe in the future I’ll follow up on this with some new observations, as I am sure there’s plenty more to learn.