Designers: The older the better?

Have you ever seen an “old” designer? Most of the time, the designers we hear about are young, progressive and artistic — not just in the interiors industry, but in fashion, graphic and other creative design arenas, too.

As I reflect upon this in my own office, the question springs to mind: is being young a prerequisite for belonging to the creative crowd?

Sure, it looks cool to hang around in a stylish hotel lobby sporting a jaunty wool hat and huge headphones while staring into the screen of your Mac, but are you being creative? Are you productive?

Proficiency and capability definitely increase with our more experienced (read “older”) interior designers, and their knowledge results in ideas that are much more realistic and functionally possible. Their designs work — and our clients, the hoteliers, love this. We are hired because they see us as experts who make fewer mistakes than others. Therefore, these designers have higher salaries and are mentors to younger team members who can learn a lot from their more experienced colleagues.

End of story? No!

(Photos copyright Hep & Ko Daniela Koros and Christian Hepting GbRr)
(Photos copyright Hep & Ko Daniela Koros and Christian Hepting GbRr)

Experience means one’s creativity is immediately filtered to assess whether the ideas can be successful, can be produced, are cost-compliant, are easy to clean and maintain, etc., etc.

And so the danger is that design is approached in the same way over and over again because experience has proven that it works.

But creativity means to develop new ideas and concepts, experiment with new materials and play with different colors. We may not be the housekeeper’s darling if these finishes are a bit impractical, but they can help transform a good hotel into a great one. The results can become the fascinating little twist that influences guests to stay at this imaginatively designed property rather than somewhere formulaic.

Design studios need the daily struggle between knowledge informed by experience and the unfiltered creativity of young people who fight for their ideas in order to be successful.

The only advice I would like to pass along to older and more experienced colleagues is to stay open-minded. Install another filter in your brain — one that considers the value of creativity!

Extract from the rubbish and silly output the inspired concepts that are worth developing. Stay young in your mind when your body gets older, and remain attuned to young designers.

Ideas that are fresh yet practical are the secret to success — and design studios that plan to stick around for the long haul need both.