By: Jennifer DurhamChances are that you or someone you know has booked a trip, tried a new food or made a purchase based on something seen on the inherently aspirational medium of social media. We’re no longer simply reading about things… we want to see the story, or rather, experience it. We make many decisions, sometimes arguably subconsciously, because of social media, and build experiences using technology. This especially true with weddings. With millions of Millennials about to hit their prime spending years, and Gen. Z on the rise, we ask ourselves as designers how we’re responding to what’s trending currently, and how the built environment will support the needs of future users as well. The design response to the demands of a tech and socially-driven generation needs to focus on future proofing and avoiding obsolescence. Oh, and it better be make an irresistibly-shareable backdrop for an Instagram post.
Long gone are the days where the captures of the wedding sit exclusively in a photo album on the coffee table. From searchable wedding hashtags, to unique photo walls, to live-streaming the moments before the ceremony, social media is a driving force that couples are using to shape the guest experience and publicly-curate their big day. Not only is the wedding photographer documenting the day, but so is every guest with their smart phones. Weddings are now on a global stage with young couples and their guests more plugged in than ever.
So, we look to Mumbai, India. With more than 400 million Millennials, many who have marriage top of mind, Mumbai is on track to be the world’s youngest country by 2020. The city is a microcosm of the global socially and technologically motivated cultural shift. The marriage of tech (pun intended) and deeply ingrained traditions is uniquely-Mumbai. We create spaces unique to each place at every scale, but one of our most luxe yet is a confidential Convention Center and Banquet Hall, designed with the shifting demographics of high-end guests in mind.
The conversation is shifting more towards the flexibility of the space itself. Indian weddings are typically a pretty grand affair and over the top decor is common, and what’s top of mind for couples is the need for their wedding venue do be able to “do it all.” The challenge of catering to the techier elements of contemporary weddings is that things may change over time. The space needs to be flexible, allowing for traditions like fresh flowers, lights, elaborate curtains and of course, a center stage, all while making room for emerging trends like 3D text extractions, living walls, photobooths and swings.
While technology will evolve, what’s here to stay is the desire for guests to want to document and share every moment within the space. Beyond weddings, businesses increasingly have incentives to incorporate photogenic “iconic” elements into their spaces. Being photogenic and shareable on social media is a form of currency that has very real impacts on the bottom line. The motivation for visiting a space is shifting—people want to look like they’re having fun, and businesses are starting to see a correlation between a space lending itself to that perfect “selfie moment” and increased bookings and foot traffic.