Hello design campus readers! My name is Bobby Berk, and I’m both a product designer and interior designer with a background in retail and product development. This is my first blog post for Design Campus, and I’m excited to share some insights and explore a range of topics in the coming year.

I’d like to discuss a project that I’m currently involved with that is pertinent to many areas of the design industry, particularly with respect to millennials. In this first post, I want to discuss what exactly a millennial is and why we should be paying attention to this emerging market. In Part II, I would like to share some of the design strategies that I employed on the project and how you can use some of the same features in your own designs to appeal to this generation.

The Modern Farmhouse – 2130 S.F.
The Modern Farmhouse – 2130 S.F. – Photographed by Christopher Mayer

Last year, I became the creative director for the Responsive Home Project, which is a collaboration between Pardee Homes, a member of the TRI Pointe Group of Homebuilders, and BUILDER Magazine.. The project focuses on two homes, a modern farmhouse and a contemporary gallery-style home, both designed to appeal to millennials. These are the show homes for the 2016 International Builder Show in January in Las Vegas, and represent the chance to showcase some features specifically designed to appeal to these young buyers. In case you aren’t already aware, “millennials” are those born between 1980 and 2000, and will soon represent the largest group of home buyers in the market today. Also known as Generation Y, this group comprises roughly 92 million Americans (Source: US Census Bureau). Since millennials are projected to eclipse both Baby Boomers and Gen Xers by 2019 in the home shopping world, it’s important to be aware of the factors that drive this up-and-coming demographic where interior design, home building, and real estate are concerned.

Hanley Wood is a marketing company serving the residential and commercial design and construction industries, and provided BUILDER magazine with marketing research and industry-specific data for the Responsive Home Project. I was fortunate enough to be provided with this millennial-centered research. As I began the programming phase on the two homes, I began to realize just how many ways millennial values have begun to shape our industries, and how these values will eventually trickle down and shape design trends on an even larger scale. I’m a millennial myself, and some of the values that are intrinsic to me I’ve begun to realize are part of my generation’s collective consciousness. This consciousness is beginning to take root in a big way. Through the completion of this project, I’ve become sort of a “millennial whisperer.” At least that’s what some of my colleagues have playfully called me… and I’m not objecting to the title! Let’s take a look at some of the unique characteristics and values that set Generation Y apart from the other generations that came before them.

The Contemporary Gallery House – 3,047 S.F.
The Contemporary Gallery House – 3,047 S.F. – Photographed by Christopher Mayer


  • Are more diverse… 14% of them were born in another country.
  • Are getting married and having children later (24% of 25-29 year olds are married with children today vs. 68% in 1967). They’ll still be getting married and having children, just delayed.
  • Earn fewer drivers licenses than past generations (93% of DL holders in the 20-24 age-range in 1980 vs. 77% today) and use more alternative forms of transportation (uber, lyft, zipcar etc.).
  • Are more educated (35% have a bachelor’s degree or greater today vs. 13% in 1966).
  • Have more debt than past generations.

Millennials are looking for specific things when shopping for homes. A marketing survey found that location and price were the most important factors when shopping for a home, and this coincides with national averages for all age demographics. One area that millennials are outliers is in their desire for more space. 76% of millennials want more space overall versus 44% of all generations. 84% prefer single-family detached homes in the 2,000-2,500 square foot range and most are looking in inner-suburban areas 15-30 minutes outside of the city core.

Millennials want:

  • More space, particularly for entertaining and for pets. However function is most important over size. This includes OUTDOOR space.
  • To own their homes!
  • Good design, not cookie-cutter. Though, millennials will buy fixer-uppers and are not afraid of DIY. Cost is the deciding factor.
  • Single-family detached homes as they marry and have kids. Single millennials tend to be more drawn to urban locations.
  • Flexible space for income opportunities (think rental suites via arbnb etc.)
  • Energy efficiency, but not at a sticker price. Options that save them money in the long run, but without breaking the bank upfront are preferable. (Think Solar City)
  • Tech but not too much of it! Smart appliances and integrated sound systems are more than enough for most millennial buyers.
  • Affordability!

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In terms of design, millennials have more access to great style through social media and sites like Houzz and Pinterest. We are inundated with information, and have more opportunity to see pictures of gorgeous spaces than the baby boomer generation did before us. Whether or not we can afford all of the great design that we see, we still want to get as much design as possible for our money. I think many baby boomers in the past didn’t know what was available to them in the same way that we do now, and because of that access, I think millennials can be even choosier about what they purchase and from where.

Click here to view Part II, where I will share completed photos of both the modern farmhouse, and the contemporary gallery house, and dissect ways that you can use budget-friendly design elements to check the boxes that millennials are looking for in their homes!

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About the Author

Bobby Berk’s rise to bonafide “IT” status in the home design world has more in common with being a rock star than it does a contemporary designer. Originally hailing from Texas, Bobby had big dreams of the big city and moved to New York in 2003 with only a few dollars to his name and no job in sight. After working his way up in retail at Bed Bath & Beyond and Restoration Hardware to Creative Director at Portico Home + Spa, Berk decided that it was time he started his own brand. Since in 2006, Bobby Berk Home has consistently provided customers a unique approach to modern design aesthetics. Epitomizing hip, minimalist urban luxury, Berk’s designs reflect a stylish and youthful spirit that perfectly fits any cool, relaxed lifestyle. His past season’s were inspired by mid-century modernism, taking ideas from the colors and shapes of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. At the age of only 30, Berk’s brand is beginning to gain national attention, and is on track to quickly become a household name. Berk and his designs have appeared on shows on HGTV, Bravo, NBC, and more. He’s also graced the pages of Elle Decor, New York Times, New York Magazine, Time Out, and many more. Most recently he was named one of Miami’s Most Stylish Men by Miami Magazine.


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